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Feel the Love

You may be hiring an agency to get a job done. But if that's all you get out of the relationship, you're missing something much bigger than the work.

David Kippen | MARCH 29, 2016

WHY HIRE AN AGENCY? To me, that’s like asking, “why fall in love?” Think about it: did you ever stop and think about the pros and cons of love? You might think about relationships. They’re complex. You might think about heartbreak, hurt. Bad outcomes. But I haven’t yet met anyone–anyone–who I honestly believe didn’t want to be loved—or to love. So maybe the question should be, “why not hire an agency?

Seriously. A good agency falls in love with your brand. With your company. And they fall in love just the way people do. They love the best part of you, the possible you. Because of the possible you, they can look around the actual you. We could call this “the probable you.” So it’s a kind of love right between the love of a parent for a child, where the parent sees the possibility of growth and development even when the child sees nothing but frustration, and the love of new romance, where everything’s brighter, more beautiful, and you look forward to what you can build together. And the best thing about this is it helps you fall in love, too…yes, with the work, with the fun, with the process, but ultimately however much you love your brand, a great agency will make you fall even more deeply in love with your brand than you already are.

Agencies do this because it’s their job. That sounds strange, I’ll admit. But a great agency relationship has to be built on a sincere, passionate fascination with the best of you, the client. Without that fascination, the relationship won’t work. The product won’t be interesting. You might as well spend your money on a new house–because that’s what a campaign’s going to cost you when all is said and done–and if your agency relationship is loveless, you’ll likely have nothing to show for the investment. A great agency/client relationship shows up.  And like all relationships, the ones that work, the ones that last, are the ones where the love is a two-way street. For clients and agencies, that means the client loves—or learns to love—the way the agency sees them. The client loves the agency’s creative expression of their love—in the art and copy. And like the very best relationships, love has high standards. Both the client and the agency push each other to be their best. You and your spouse might dress up to go out to dinner…but do you dress for each other? Do you dress for breakfast? For a day at the park together? It’s something to think about. It’s something the best client/agency relationships are built around. And it’s funny, the kind of relationship we’re describing here is deeply, deeply at odds with the words we’re using to describe each party to the relationship.

  • “Client” is defined by two things: being the one who pays, and being the recipient of “stuff.”
  • Agency is defined by…agency; that is, by being the active member of a business relationship.

If you want a great relationship, if you want the benefits that come with being wholly, completely, madly in love with what should be the best part of your working life, both of those roles have to be forgotten. They must be completely discarded. Yes, there’s a time for invoices and a time for paying them. But once terms are agreed, if they want to do great things together, the client and agency must find their way to a deeper, more trusting partnership than any other I know of in the world of business. Because at the end of the day, the product of that partnership is entirely, completely creative—and co-created, just as we all were, by the union of the client and agency. So again, why hire an agency? Because that love makes your best self possible–and visible. And it’s good for your brand, too.

Dr. David Kippen serves as Chief Strategist and CEO of Evviva Brands. With a background spanning advertising and communications and a client base spanning the globe and including top brands in every sector, Dr. David Kippen is a world-renowned leader in brand strategy.  David’s past clients include Amazon, Ameriprise Financial, Bain & Company, Blackrock, Burger King, Chevron, Coca-Cola, Dell, Dignity Health, Disney, Energy RecoveryE.ON, HP, HSBC, General Mills, Intel, Kaiser Permanente, Kentz, KLA-Tencor, Lam Research, Marriott InternationalMethanex, Moss Adams, Microsoft, Nokia, Premera Blue Cross, Teva, T-Mobile and Xilinx. 

David earned a PhD in English (rhetoric) from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Prior to founding Evviva Brands he was Head of Global Brand Strategy for TMP Worldwide.

Phone: (415) 320-9777

Leading brand agency in US and UK since 2015. Top 10% of all global firms on Clutch based on client reviews. ("Clutch Champion.")