The 9 types of agency personality
We look at a weirdly high number of agencies every day. And while they all tell us they're different from the others, most fall into one of these nine buckets - even us.
1. The craft artists
You’ll recognise these guys immediately from their agency’s website, with its minimal monochrome styling, oversized sans serif font, and off-grid layout. They speak only in alliterative statements about how design has the power to change the world. They’ve worked with Nike and Spotify, although that work is never available (under NDA of course). Instead you’re met with subtly-toned and beautifully-styled product photography for Toilet Duck, ‘a challenger built for change’.
They live for the craft; the essence of what makes a brand. There’s no need to explain what they do or market themselves, because their work for that road cone manufacturing brand showcases their unique approach. Thoughtful. Considered. Conscious. This is their foundational ethos, as they’ll methodically explain in their 180-slide presentation.
2. The homely helping hands
Ah they feel nice. Lovely and friendly and easy. Like a big fluffy dog or a wool blanket. There’s no bolshy buzzwords here, just a cute little website with some Cath Kidston clipart. Derek and Jane run the agency, like your next door neighbours but who dabble in digital marketing. There’s some photos of them on the About page, and their kids, and… ahhhhh, their ‘Head of Barketing’ Bumble the black Labrador. Cup of tea, anyone?
No, don’t look at their actual case studies. They’re not important. The main thing is they’re jolly nice. And just round the corner from you, near the newsagents. Derek likes to write a blog each month about why having a website is good for business in 2023. And Jane reshares it on their Facebook page (twelve 5-star reviews). It’s like one big family with these guys. Read into that what you will.
3. The forward-thinking futurists
Tomorrow is next. Imagine possibilities. Unleash the unconventional. These guys see further than you, and know exactly how the world will be. Although the language is vague, they know. Oh, they know. Tomorrow is their world, and now is just a stepping stone. Imagine what comes next. Just imagine if… They’re experts in highly-valuable but totally intangible stuff like innovation consultancy and future-proofing. They speak about turning ambition into action, ideas into impact, limitless thinking.
For them, the world’s moving fast and you’re slow. Possibilities. Transformation. Trends. Their website is an endless scroll through big rhetorical questions and images of people smiling inanely. Expect to see an assortment of your favourite buzzwords, from purpose-led to disruptive innovation. And when you still have no idea what they do, contact them to have your big questions answered.
4. The reassuringly boring
We deliver results built on bespoke solutions. They’re that person you inch away from at the party. Their website is a Windows 95 wash of muted blue colours alongside images of cityscapes with blurred lights. They speak with all the passion of a door handle, often talking about business goals and return on investment. This isn’t about creativity or technology, this is just a transaction. You supply them with funds and they send you business impact each month.
Even their contract and onboarding documents look like they were written by a solicitor. The creds deck they talked you through felt like a carousel of statistics designed to induce a coma. Their white-collared and grey-faced approach has the welcoming feel of a funeral directors. Yes, they probably will achieve most of what you asked them to, but you’ll have almost no fun along the way.
5. The hard-selling hustlers
Book a demo now. Book now. Book it. Here’s how your life’s ruined if you don’t book now. Hear from random people about how they booked now. Explore ten reasons to book now. Book now. Booooooooook.
These guys are easily spotted by their huge website buttons everywhere. Every word has been conversion optimised using deep behavioural pseudo science to make you take the right action. You don’t even need an agency, in fact you just wanted to buy some socks - but here you are on a sales call with Chad about to commit to a $10k per month retainer. This is bro-marketing on steroids, with a site that screams ‘we’re gonna follow you round the internet for the rest of your life until you book’. Big fonts, weird sizing, power colours, dollar signs, and everything reduced to $97 if you book now. Run, run for your life.
6. The corporate clones
A network of trusted partners. Delivering scale worldwide. Built for a changing world. This is the brand voice of 1300 employees secretly hoping their side hustle of Etsy calendars finally frees them from this drudgery. The website is mostly a set of policies and investor relations pages with a team page showing endless headshots of crushed-dreamed drones. Across the whole organisation, only three people know what’s happening and only two of them care. The rest think the best thing about working here is the paycheck.
Their website is oatmeal and red. Their marketing always starts with ‘We’re proud to announce’. Everyone wears a shirt, even on the excruciatingly obligatory team days. They spend their days meeting about meetings on Microsoft Teams. Excellence. Experience. Expertise. These are the watchwords for their worldwide agency operations.
7. The purpose pushers
The world is burning, the planet is dying, your children are ugly. Sure, they’re right about all three but they don’t mind reminding you, like, all the time. Your business is single handedly killing society and there’s blood on your nicely-manicured hands. But there is salvation, sweet sweet salvation, in the surprise form of social media marketing - an unlikely third coming for our Lord and saviour.
Yep, from just £2000pm you can grow your purpose-driven business with an agency where almost everything is recycled - including its campaign ideas. By 2034 they’ll be B-Corp registered and they donate monthly to good causes, so you can feel less guilty. Don’t be the problem, be the solution. Sell thousands more of your DTC skincare product, but send them in one of those recycled Kraft boxes instead. Purpose. Planet. People. Profit. Problem.
8. The cookie-cutters
Woohoo, just downloaded this great Wordpress template called ‘Agency Wordpress Template’. Yep, it’s got a big hero section where we can say we’re award-winning. And then it scrolls down into three icons where we can say we’re passionate, transparent and results-orientated. It’ll be great to show off our unique process; Discover - Create - Deliver - Optimise. That’ll blow their bloody minds.
And then let’s tell them we’re a marketing agency that believes in using data and creativity to grow brands. Honestly, they’ll lose their shit when they see that. And finally let’s finish the page with some team photos of us holding some mad items that show we’re more than just our jobs. Yeah, yeah then a link to all our blogs about ChatGPT and marketing. Cool, and then just a wow-moment call to action like… Want to know more? Done. And everyone says agency websites are hard. Pffffttttt.
9. The sarcastic satirists
These guys are like soooooo smart. They write stuff like this and act like they’re above it all. It’s a thin veil for their own lack of ability. Spot them in the wild trying to look effortless by spending weeks writing something witty. Also see them crying themselves to sleep as the tumbleweed blows by. They speak with an irreverent tone, swearing to show how maverick they are. Their copy feels like someone trying to impress you with their endless digs while you grin politely and hope they’ll leave soon.
Their website and marketing feels like a futile set of stunts, designed to distract people from their own lack of talent. And they seem to have a suspiciously large amount of time to market themselves, rather than doing actual paid client work. Probably a bit too cool for clients anyway. Yeah, it’s a much better business model to spend time pushing others down to lift themselves up. Clever. A bit too clever.
If you're reading this with your head in your hands, and want to elevate your agency's brand and personality - then to arrange a quick chat.
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