Why a ‘passionate’ agency should make you run a mile

Passion has got to be one of the most over-used and meaningless words in the business world.  ‘We’re passionate about our work and our clients’.  ‘We’re passionate about customer value’. ‘We serve our customers with purpose and passion’.

But do they really mean that?  The OED defines passion as “a strong or overpowering feeling or emotion”, so is that how they really feel about all the work they do for all their clients all of the time? Isn’t passion more about how you feel about your family, travelling, health and fitness, or whatever else floats your boat?

And isn’t the very fact an agency is saying they are passionate proving they aren’t? Shouldn’t this be evident through the work they do, the tone of voice they use, and the wonderful relationships they have with their clients?

It’s why we think creative agencies (or any other types of company for that matter), who use the P word should be avoided at all costs. Which raises the question, how do you spot an agency who is truly passionate about what they do?

1. Look at their reputation

Obviously, it goes without saying that when deciding to work with any creative agency, you should take a look at their roster of clients. This will give you an idea of any sector experience they may have as well as an overview of the work they do. But just make sure the list is recent. There is nothing more exasperating than finding out that long list of impressive names was actually from 10 years ago and most of the stuff they do now doesn’t fit with your own creative needs.

It’s also worth asking how they have come by most of their work. In our case it has largely been through recommendations made by existing clients or people taking us with them when they move jobs. This indicates a high degree of client satisfaction, as nobody recommends a company who has failed to deliver high-quality work on time and on budget.

Also look to see what other people are saying about the company. Do they have a reputation for being great to work with? Are they known for giving their all? Do people think they are a touch too expensive for the quality of work they deliver? This can sometimes be an issue with bigger agencies who have more overheads, (which is why we think smaller agencies are best!), but take on board what others are saying and then judge for yourself whether it’s a cause for concern.

2. Review their branding

If you’re choosing a design and marketing agency, then you’ll want them to deliver top-notch creative solutions, and what better way of judging if they are up to scratch than by taking a look at their own branding and marketing.

Website, social media posts, brochures – review it all in terms of look and feel, imagery, the tone of voice they use as well as the language. This will give you a clear idea about how they position themselves, whether they are truly passionate about their work, and ultimately whether they come across as a company you would like to work with.  And if you see any mention of passion, run a mile!

Of course, it could be they are simply too busy with client work to focus on their own business identity, but if they are that passionate about what they do, don’t you think they would have made the time?! 

3. Assess their work processes

Most agencies have their own unique way of working, so it’s worth reviewing their systems and assessing whether they fit with how you like to work. If they have clear processes in place, then it’s much more likely your work will be delivered on time and on budget. But if they don’t seem to have any established frameworks, you may find deadlines are missed, your work isn’t prioritised correctly, and everything will be a bit disorganised. It also suggests they simply aren’t that passionate about their clients!

You should also check who will be working on your account. It sounds a bit clichéd, but we love to build long-lasting relationships with our clients, so from the outset you will meet the people who you will actually be working with. You’ll never be palmed off on a nameless person buried in the back office. And yes, that is known to happen!! But we firmly believe the best creative comes out of a relationship built on trust and empathy. Get the chemistry right and the rest will just fall into place.

4. Check there is love all around

Okay, we admit it. While we might have a bit of a thing for passion, we are all down with the love! Some people would argue it’s just semantics, but for us there is something fundamentally different between love and passion. Maybe it’s the fact that passion is something fleeting, that often happens in the heat of the moment and then fades away just as quickly. Or maybe it’s just because it’s such a hackneyed phrase that it’s lost any true meaning. What we do know is love is around for the long-haul, which when you’re talking about producing great work is crucial.

Or to put it another way; if an agency loves what they do, they are much more likely to produce great creative, which in turn will be loved by clients, will deliver the results everyone is looking for and will see clients telling everyone else how much they love working with that agency.  It’s called spreading the love!

But love also means having the confidence to say no. We are great believers in helping our clients get the most out of their budgets and using it in the most effective ways. So, if they come up with an idea, we just don’t believe will have the impact they are looking for, we are more than happy to tell them the truth, even if it means we miss out on some work.

And, just in case you were wondering, we don’t feel the need to shout about the fact we love our work and our clients, because it’s something that just is and hopefully comes across in everything we do. And if you fancy checking it out for yourself, then give us a call. We would love to hear from you.