I’m always fascinated to see how organizations, large and small, attempt to differentiate themselves while delivering on a brand promise. As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, I once worked for an integrated agency whose tagline was: ‘Sales overnight and image over time.’ Sadly, the firm couldn’t deliver on either and has subsequently gone the way of all flesh. Richmond, Va. based Martin Agency, however, is the polar opposite of my erstwhile alma mater.
Adweek just named Martin its U.S. agency of the year. In addition to growing by 12 percent and winning such big accounts such as Pizza Hut and Microsoft, Martin won an amazing 14 of the 18 competitive reviews in which it competed. Wow.
Martin does an extraordinarily good job of differentiating itself and delivering on its brand promise in simple, direct words. Mike Hughes, the agency’s creative director, says his firm fosters work that, ‘sells everyday products to everyday people in not so everyday ways.’ Is that sweet, or what?
I hate it when businesspeople use the word ‘elegant’ to describe their product or service, but that line is, quite simply, elegant. And simple. It tells me exactly who the agency targets (brands such as Pizza Hut). It tells me which target audience they know best (the everyday people who buy products from Wal-Mart and Expedia). And, critically, it tells me that Martin executes in unexpected ways (and that’s the brand promise).
Too many professional services sector firms try too hard to say too much in their taglines and positioning statements. Most end up saying exactly the same thing in more or less the same unintelligible mishmash of words. So, when a Martin comes along with a crisp, compelling statement that it actually delivers on, well, that calls for an old-fashioned shout out.
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