I became an entrepreneur in 2002.
I created a stewardess agency and, one year and a half later, when I met my business partner, as he had a small advertising agency, we became an advertising agency together. Pure logic.
Branding is critical for any company, as you can see, for example, inside this very interesting Oberlo's article, where you can check ten branding statistics you need to know.
Almost 20 years ago, the world, as you can imagine, was totally different. Talking about advertising, online and offline services were starting to differentiate themselves from each other radically.
Online specialists started appearing.
It was "easy" to create an online ad agency. One guy at home with an Internet connection. No need for staff, offices, additional costs…
We had to face that huge threat because we were also offering those kinds of services.
How should we sell our services to the market?
Here, I will focus on our branding strategy when we were facing the "scary" scenario I mentioned above:
Should we keep just one brand, or should we create a second brand to compete with these new competitors?
Here, I will share with you the pitfalls we faced, our failures, and how we were able, finally, to succeed.
It wasn't easy, my friend.
Why we Chose Two Brands
We thought a lot about our two options.
As always, everything had pros and cons. And, as always, the decision wasn't clear at all.
In any entrepreneur's journey, you have to learn to "navigate through grays". Things are rarely black or white.
We suffered a lot. The feedback from our customers was usually this:
— “I like your agency, but… you're not a specialist.”
What the heck????
Our online department was much bigger and with much more resources than those "specialists", but we couldn't defend our position.
That's why we decided to create a different brand.
It was precisely the same name but with the word "Digital" at the beginning. We kept the name because we wanted to make the best out of our well-known brand.
This strategic decision was supposed to allow us to be seen as specialists.
Now, we could compete face to face with those small agencies that were hurting us (a lot). We could be seen as experts in that area. Professionals who knew what they were talking about.
Now, our services were differentiated: online services vs. offline services.
We were ready for war. Were we? You will see we failed.
Why We Failed Choosing Two Brands instead of One
We were very proud of our decision. Now, all our fears were gone. We had no ghosts around us.
We created the online brand with:
- A custom domain.
- A custom logo.
- Custom social media profiles.
- Custom email addresses.
Our customers still saw us as non-specialists. They said things like this:
— Yes, yes, I see you have a whole online specialized division within your agency, but you're selling offline services too, aren't you? Sorry, but I do need a specialized partner.
Again: What the heck????
What do we do now?
Creating a totally different brand with no connection at all?
No way, people will find out that there's a connection between both brands. They could think we were cheating them…
What the hell do we do?
Why We Decided to Use Just One Brand, and How We Did it
Being an entrepreneur for several years taught me something: you can convert a weakness into a strength, and a threat into an opportunity.
That's what we did.
Why not facing we were a one "big" (we were 20 people more or less at that time) ad agency offering a whole bunch of services all together?
I admit it. We did that because there wasn't any other option left. Sometimes the decision-making process drives you towards a one and only way.
We made our decision. One brand was "our way".
We redesigned all our branding, marketing, and commercial speech from top to bottom.
We became "your on&off agency".
We "pushed hard" into our clients, telling them there wasn't any difference between the online and offline world. They just needed to communicate out there, to sell.
We also used another claim: "There are no big or small customers, only customers who want to sell more”.
There we were to help them. Helping them to sell, no matter if it was online, offline, or both.
We nailed it. It worked. Clients understood the message. It was a perfect fit.
It seems very easy today, but it was not at all obvious at the time.
Now, I will share with you all the benefits we took by betting on just one brand.
7 Benefits You Get when Choosing to Use Just One Brand
1. Social Media
Direct outcome: you just manage one profile. Period.
This saves you time. Everything's easy. You generate content just for one profile. You engage people to just one brand.
Everything goes to the same place.
2. Advertising investment
All your investment goes to just one place.
You don't need to diversify, to decide how much you invest in each of your brands.
No matter what you're able to invest, it's better 100% to one brand than 50% each.
You're 100% sure you're investing in the right brand because you just have one.
Internal and external simplicity.
For example, when creating all your different advertising pieces, you just use one logo, one claim, one "everything".
Your creatives don't need to think:
- How to sell each brand.
- What to say.
- What message.
- Which claim is better.
- If both claims will have the same quality.
They concentrate their efforts on just one message, one brand.
When creating different pieces of communication, you don't need to double your efforts. Everything's the same, no matter if you're using your image for digital purposes, an online campaign, an ad for a printed publication.
Save time. Save money.
4. Clearness to communicate
You can concentrate your communication efforts on just one message, one speech.
Your clients and potential ones only need to remember just one name.
It's difficult to remember just one name, imagine when you use more than one.
People see you and immediately associate you with your brand's name. It's a 1-to-1 relation.
Simple, easy, pragmatic.
5. Online elements
One email address.
One, one, one.
All of your efforts to generate traffic to your site go to the same destination.
Focus. Concentration. Optimization.
6. A big project
You start to be seen as a "top player". A big one. A one-and-all.
You have solid arguments to sell yourself because you just have one.
In our case, we were "the one-and-only agency that controls everything in-house".
It's a serious core, a solid foundational speech that hits the market.
In our case, we could say claims such as "we took the best of both worlds and merged them for you".
There are infinite combinations when you just have to focus on one concept, one message, one brand.
Last but not least, I'd like to mention this essential point.
This clearness in our communication gave confidence to all our people inside the agency. They saw and felt they were inside a "big project" (now we're almost 50 people).
It's not only a matter of how many you are. It's how you're selling this concept to the outside world.
Today, we are also attracting talent to our project, significantly improving our recruiting process.
This confidence gives our creative people a way to think with "certain edges". It's not limiting their creative process, it's to inspire them by giving them focus.
It's not easy to create good claims when the space is infinite, when you're "a mess of multiple services", when your goal is not crystal clear.
This confidence increases performance. No doubt about it.
Today we're a global marketing agency. Our message is crystal clear.
We've been adding more and more services as divisions that work towards a unique brand.
You have to feel comfortable with your message, how you sell yourself to the market.
Your storytelling is essential to catch a potential client's eye within a few seconds.
Focusing on just one brand makes everything easier, whenever you're able to show up as a professional, competing face to face without any problem with those who use the specialist's speech.
It's our case. Now we say specialists don't have the wide vision we do have. It works.
It seems easy today. It wasn't so easy not so long ago.
Create a strong brand. One in which all your efforts benefit from them. All your energy, your investments, your work goes towards it.
- Your brand will grow.
- More and more people will know it.
- You will feel comfortable because you just have to repeat the same millions of times.
- It's easy, the cheapest. It's clear, direct, and pragmatic.
We took this essential lesson learned and applied it to another of our companies, a spirits brand.
It also worked, but that's another story…