5 Things I Learned Working at a Branding Agency
Working at a branding agency was not planned at all. This guest speaker came to a marketing class I was in and presented their branding company. I immediately started enjoying the vibe so I approached him after his presentation. When I asked if they were taking any interns, he said that they didn’t want anyone just to walk around, they saw an intern as an investment. I told them I wouldn’t want to waste my time anywhere either so I think that’s where we clicked. After two interviews we discussed the terms of my internship. I was going to go to London so we decided that I start after I come back. I did a 3-month internship as the social media person and then was promoted to project manager for about 4 months. Later on, when I had been there for more than 6-7 months, I felt like I was not being invested in, rather I was investing much more than any return I could earn. However, that’s for another time. Today I will talk about 5 among the many things I learned working at a branding agency, both as a work experience and as an industry.
1. Branding is about being unique, yet fitting in
Branding is basically creating an identity. Needless to say, nowadays companies really cannot afford not to have an identity. The market is highly competitive and you got to show what you can bring to it. So, having a carefully and well-branded company will not only differentiate you but paired with quality products/services, it’s what leads the company to success. Certainly, a lot of companies are living in the past when they had little competition and they don’t understand why things aren’t working out. I learned this from the many brands I was introduced to during my time working in this industry. However, brands have to also be fitting in their respective industries. That’s the reason why branding companies themselves are expected to be very creative; security companies ought to be serious, and toy companies should have a fun factor.
There was this particular company producing the saffron spice which is more expensive than gold per kg. They had a brand already which was done by the company I was working at but they’d come back looking for change. Apparently, they had traveled a little and been given many critiques on their branding. So, they came back to rebrand their company. There are many reasons why this could have happened because the earlier branding wasn’t that bad, but the issue was likely lack of communication and expertise of both parties in the saffron industry. Nonetheless, it was important that the company had understood the significance of branding and was willing to change so that they become unique but also fit the profile of their chosen industry.
2. It’s likely you won’t get recognized for your efforts
Branding companies are fairly contemporary in many aspects. They are being sought out but also seeking people to work for them. However, measuring someone’s work in this industry is quite difficult. Usually, there are brainstorming sessions before a brand is made, ideas are thrown by many. Some ideas are good, some not really, yet some are brilliant. But as the brand starts to develop, everyone kind of loses track of whose idea it was that made it. This is quite unfair in evaluating the employees. Also, many things are done in a speedy manner, which also leads to no credits for people who do more. All in all, it’s pretty difficult to measure everyone’s input.
A professor of management told me that I should keep a work diary, to write down all I do throughout the year or whatever work period. Then, at the end of the said working period, I would just show it to my managers. However, this diary idea is something most people don’t know so they kind of get lost and so loose recognition for their efforts.
Also, a good idea is to discuss your responsibilities in detail before you actually get the job. This is mainly so that your boss won’t be upset you didn’t do something you didn’t even know you had to do. I once had to share some content for a certain holiday but I wasn’t sent the pictures I needed despite asking about 4 times and different levels of management. At the end of the day, I was confronted for this particular issue. I obviously spoke out for myself but sometimes you will have to deal with arrogant people. So it’s important to discuss as many details as possible straight up in the beginning.
3. It can drain you pretty badly (creatively)
When I started working at this particular Branding Agency as a social media manager, I was making content for about 7 companies, each around 3 posts a week, one required a post every single day. So if you do the math, I was doing up to 25 posts per week. I had to come up with original ideas and work with a designer on each of them. Apart from that, I had to have a strategy and analyze data. At the same time, I was doing almost all the other copywriting the company needed in English. I did enjoy it all pretty much, but it was quite draining creatively. Having to come up with something new every single day and to even come up with new ways to put words together, it’s not easy at all. I still am trying to do that with my own blog but it’s much more personal and honestly completely different.
Working for clients in and of itself is somewhat draining. The designers whom I worked with were of the same opinion. Just because sometimes you’re not really given creative freedom and you must work under certain specification. Thus, branding is not really art, but it certainly requires creativity.
This, however, didn’t change my will to do such work. I still think that a job in branding is very appealing if done right.
4. You’re expected to be COOL enough
No, there’s no dressing code. You’re also not told much of the preferred behavior. But you are judged as you would be anywhere else. Your clothing which should be kind of comfortable yet sort of sophisticated and cool is a pass to feel more like you belong. And who doesn’t want to belong in a new workplace? Also, if you don’t have any sense of humor, or just don’t fit with the rest of the team, you will likely not enjoy your time there as much.
This goes for most industries where you have to look and behave in a way that is standard to the company and its personality. However, I feel that working at a branding agency you experience this way more. One of the reasons could be that these agencies have certain ideals, and sometimes they aggressively insist on them. One of the main ideals expected from the employees is being cool and trendy. If you’re neither…you will have a sort of awkward time working at a branding agency, despite your ability. You could feel like you’re in the wrong environment and will likely not even enjoy doing your job, especially based on point #2 where I told about the integral part of teamwork.
5. Branding is VERY IMPORTANT
Lastly but likely most critical in what I learned working at a branding agency is that branding doesn’t only matter but it’s essential, especially in the market today. I could name many companies whom I learned about that either had no clue what they were doing with their businesses or were desperately failing to manage them, but looked absolutely stunning to the customer and other outsiders. Would I say that branding fools people into seeing you as much more professional than you actually are? TOTALLY! Customers will buy your products and pay for your services because they believe that you are much more competent than you are, all because your branding is done well. But this false self-illusionary success doesn’t last long and I certainly detest it.
But, that’s merely an illustration of the power of branding. Working at a branding agency taught me that people are becoming aware of that power and are willing to add it to their already strong ideas and quality products. I can’t imagine having my own company in the future and not investing heavily in branding it the right way. Having that unique personality in the market will not only differentiate my company but it will also portray the value of my products or services.
As a matter of fact, I learned enough working at a branding agency that I wouldn’t just have my blog randomly out there. I worked with Urim Karakashi from Honedon, to brand this blog that just portrays everything I was aspiring. I wanted to target both men and women that are intrigued by creativity; eager to read and understand more about social issues; and also curious about many aspects of life, with a touch of my observations and a hint of my love for literature. I knew I didn’t want to be limited to a niche kind of blog, nor did I want a basic lifestyle blog, so I believe that Urim did exceptionally well despite all the complications I put forth to him.
I have learned many other things working at a branding agency, but the most valuable lessons are always given by people and how they interact with you. Ever since I left my job there, I got some other job offers in the same industry. I do actually welcome them but haven’t decided anything yet. Let me know if you want some tips on how to land a job in this industry or other topics related to branding.
Remember that unless you are branded as a company, you are pretty much stranded. It will be very difficult for people to find you and trust you enough to work with you!