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brandingResponsible Marketing

Your agency is not your brand

By March 18, 2008August 19th, 20204 Comments
marketing agency

Does your website have a link on the bottom giving credit to the web developer? Do your email blasts include a big logo with a link taking your readers to your email marketing company’s promotional page?


You’ve paid good money to have your website designed, then your web developer uses it to promote their services with a link at the bottom of every page. And though you’ve paid for your email marketing too, most services have a logo as big as yours plus a marketing message and at least one link to their site.

I really dislike these practices.

Don’t get me wrong. You should give credit if someone is providing value to you for free or at a dramatically reduced cost. For example, most WordPress themes are free. All the designers ask for is credit for their good work, so you should give it to them.

But your website wasn’t free. You paid for the design, coding, copywriting, sitemapping, usability testing and more. I’ve always said that the logo or link at the bottom of your website is just as ridiculous at having your branding firm’s logo on your brochure or your ad agency’s logo on the bottom of your ads.

Ironically, a Brandweek article published yesterday entitled “Agencies are the New Brand” argues that maybe this is the way it should be:

Imagine, for a moment, then, that agencies did put their logos on the bottoms of the ads they created. It would hold them to a higher standard, compelling them to believe in their work as much as in the client’s brand. Picture a line of copy down the side of, say, an American Express ad: Ogilvy made this ad for American Express because, like them, we believe in the value of long-term relationships.

The author, Simon Sinek, is a good writer and I usually agree with him. I agree that most ad agencies should increase their investment in their own brands.

But I couldn’t disagree more regarding the agency becoming part of the client’s advertising. This is like co-branding, and co-branding is distracting. It’s good for you if you are the little guy hitching your wagon to the big guy, but the benefits to the client are questionable, at best.

Sinek goes on to say:

An agency compelled to reveal itself to the world would be more thoughtful—more accountable, surely—for its work, would it not?

Hmmm. Not sure about that one, either. The agency is accountable already. If the work doesn’t work, the agency has to find new work. It’s that simple.

If your web development firm is taking credit on your site, ask them to remove it. That’s easy.

If your email marketing tool is promoting themselves in the footer, ask them to eliminate it or reduce it to a non-distracting hyperlink. And if they won’t do that, find a new email marketing company that will. It might cost a few more dollars per month (and maybe not) but what’s your brand worth? I know Outsource Marketing isn’t the only company that offers private label email.

Your marketing is yours, and yours alone. Don’t dilute it with your marketing partner’s marketing messages.

Think I am overreacting? Weigh in by commenting below.

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • That’s great that you are talking to the facts that every page containing its link at the bottom is bad. yes I agree that marketing should be in such a way that it should be effective and attractive.

  • Patrick –

    I totally agree that email services putting their logo (i.e. CoolerEmail, ConstantContact, and so on) on MY emails is obnoxious; however, it did help me notice who was using what and I chose Constant Contact for that reason.

    That said, I’m seriously considering dumping them, too. It is wiser to do text-based emails than HTML anyway.

    Scott Andrews

  • I believe that when a Web developer offers services with a free or reduced cost then he should be given credit. In turn they should be allowed to put their personnel logo on client’s website.

  • If inclusion of a “developed by” link is part of the original negotiations, and in final contract. I think it can be argued that those were part of the price. At a previous agency this is exactly how it was handled. There were some clients who had this clause removed during negotiations but the majority did not.

    Going to Sinek’s point there were instances in which client’s demands were such opposition to what the agency felt was best practices that the “built by” links were intentionally left off the site as the agency did not want to be associated with the site design after completion.