As all proud Mancunians know, there’s nothing quite as comforting as talking about home. So over our next few blogs, we’re going to take a closer look at Manchester’s vibrant marketing industry, starting with a quick guide to what to look for when choosing a creative agency in this great city.
When it comes to branding, it can feel like there’s something in the very air we breath in Manchester. From industry to music, fashion to football, Manchester is iconic, cool, renowned, confident. An archetypal powerhouse of a brand.
From the days when it was the centre of the global cotton industry, Britain’s second city and its people have always seemed to strike the right balance between creative energy and entrepreneurial acumen. It seems almost inevitable that Manchester should be home to the country’s biggest creative sector outside of London, a buzz of media conglomerates, advertising companies, PR consultancies, boutique branding agencies and digital trendsetters.
And as Lewis Blackwell writes in his overview of the UK’s creative industry hubs, Manchester’s marketing scene is as diverse as it is large. There is no shortage of choice for businesses looking to put a bit of spark in their branding, and no shortage of talent either. The challenge is finding the right spark for your business in amongst all the shining lights.
Five Things to Consider When Choosing a Creative Agency
- Does their business sense match their creative energy? For the very best agencies, this is a given, but world class skills in areas like design, content and digital know-how do not always go hand in hand with first class business skills. Look at client testimonials, but also be ready to quiz potential partners closely to see how they will align their campaign to your business goals, how it will sit with your wider business strategy, and how will they measure ROI based on your business metrics, not those they choose to use.
- What sectors do they specialise in? A good branding agency will boast that they can work magic for businesses in any sector, and doubtless some can. But over time, most agencies tend to gain experience in a handful of sectors, and with experience comes a depth of understanding that can make an agency feel more like an extension of your own business.
- What size companies do they work with? As with sector knowledge, you want an agency which understands the business landscape for a company your size. A major creative house used to working with international blue chip companies may not quite grasp the priorities of an SME, which could lead to positioning and messaging being off line.
- What can they offer? There is nothing the creative industries love better than a new next big thing, especially if there is some sort of new technology involved. Don’t be sucked in by agencies promising the Earth with a one-channel approach, however innovative it sounds. The best agencies combine a solid respect for traditional marketing disciplines with a willingness to think outside the box as a means to add greater value.
- Are they the sort of people you can get on with? Finally, relationships in business are everything. Look for that other kind of ‘spark’, the spark of compatibility between people. If you can communicate well with an agency, ideas will flow back and forth easily in an open dialogue. You also want to aim to build long term relationships with creative partners, as the better they understand your business, the better they will be able to promote it.