An advertising agency is more than the sum of its parts. The most creatively awarded agencies in the world can often be the smallest. The most inefficient agencies in the world are often the biggest. The features that make up a great advertising agency are not usually its assets, and certainly not its numbers. The ideas, the executions, and the ability to build relationships with clients are the features that build a great agency. Great ideas can come from small teams, beautiful execution can come from a single designer, and strong relationships can be forged with a handshake and a coffee.

Clients with little or no experience in dealing with agencies are the easiest to dazzle with long, big-brand client lists, large boardrooms, and trophy cabinets full to bursting with the most coveted statues in the industry. These are the obvious and easily identifiable features of a great advertising agency. They’re also often the features of an overpriced, impersonal and self-centred agency. There is currently a massive disconnect between what clients need, what they want, and what they end up paying for. They’re too often guided by the shallow and superficial, or influenced by popular opinion rather than choosing an advertising agency with features that best compliment their brand.

An advertising agency is more than the sum of its parts.

Just like any brand, strong agencies should have a culture and a mantra that defines what they stand for. Clients should find an agency that has an essence that matches their own. This is the key to building good relationships. From strong relationships, shared goals and similar values, great ideas can be born. It goes without saying that agencies that are able to build strong relationships, and produce great creative work, will in time grow into powerhouse agencies. Their boardroom tables will get bigger, their award cabinets will grow and their staff contingent will swell. This however can’t happen without the support of clients willing to invest in the future of a growing agency.

Clients need to learn to spot the features in an advertising agency that signify future potential growth. Big idea thinking, attention to detail, exceptional service and one-on-one time with the people who are responsible for your brand, are features that give the smallest agencies the mightiest advantage.