Has your social media agency ever built its own brand?

It’s a simple question.

If the answer is no, that doesn’t necessarily mean your agency lacks the knowledge required to drive success for their clients. It just means they haven’t done it for themselves. They haven’t experienced the highs, lows and day-to-day challenges of building something consumers love and trust.

The sense of achievement an agency feels after a successful product launch is fundamentally different than what it feels like for the people who live and breathe the brand on a daily basis — the people whose livelihoods are directly tied to the fate of the business.

To put a finer point on it, in an agency-client relationship, one company works on behalf of the other.

This is not some mind-blowing revelation. But it’s worth reiterating. Two companies. One paying the other.

Good Relationships

The best relationships are collaborative and function as if the agency is an extension of the client’s company. A marketing arm, if you will. But the fact remains there are still two separate entities striving toward a common goal. If you’ve never experienced life on both sides of that relationship, then it can be difficult to understand what success really looks like for the other person (or in this case, group of people).

At Bandolier Media, we’ve been both agency and brand. Because not only have we been the social media agency for companies like Allens Boots, Cuvée Coffee and Brownie Brittle, we’ve also developed successful brands of our own.

Our Brands

Say hello to Classic Dad, a popular humor media property.

Classic Dad’s social channels and website generate 20 million impressions per month. Its apparel is sold in retail outlets across the country and Classic Dad has partnered with brands like Weber Grills, The Home Depot and Duck Tape, along with organizations like the Ad Council.

Since 2016, Classic Dad has produced sharable content, viral videos and has been featured in dozens of media outlets along the way.

The second company is a millennial clothing line, ThreadBrew, that appeals to the college and post-grad audience.

It’s an e-commerce play with a network of campus ambassadors across the country who help us expand ThreadBrew’s presence among its key demographic.

Over the course of building Classic Dad and ThreadBrew, we’ve learned important lessons about thriving in today’s crowded digital (and bricks and mortar) marketplace. These are things we probably wouldn’t have fully understood if our only experience with brand-building was on the agency side…

5 Lessons We Learned Creating & Running Our Own Brands

1) It’s Not Just About Engagement

Yes, engagement matters. The last thing you want to do is bore or, even worse, turn off your audience.

But getting a bunch of likes or RT’s can’t be the goal. How does that engagement success translate to business success? For Classic Dad, our Facebook posts often get extremely high engagement. Which is nice. The question we started asking ourselves was: how is that impacting our specific goals?

That’s an even trickier question because every brand has multiple goals. Grow the audience. Convert sales. Drive traffic to the website. The list goes on.

By moving beyond raw engagement numbers, we began to analyze which types of posts worked better for various goals. Even if we can post a funny graphic that generates thousands of shares and likes, it might be missing the point entirely if our success metric for that day was to drive traffic to our e-commerce store to meet a sales goal for the month.

2) Creativity Is Good. Results Also Matter.

As agency creatives, it’s often tempting to try and come up with the “coolest” or most award-winning ideas for brands. And that’s good. Nothing wrong with that. Creative work often connects with audiences in a way that more functional marketing can’t.

However.

When you’re on the brand side, you understand it’s all about results. Does it matter if a video got 2 million views and a slew of awards if sales were down that quarter? Or what if a highly-engaged piece of content is sending the wrong message to core customers?

3) The Client Is Not The Enemy.

And agencies don’t know everything. It’s pretty easy to live in the agency bubble and start to think that all problems originate with the client or the strategic brief or even the product itself.

Spending some time tackling problems from the “client” standpoint is a great way to remind ourselves that, hey, the only true enemy is failure.

4) You Have To Love The Product.

Clarification: you have to love at least something about the product or service you’re trying to sell. As we built ThreadBrew, we started playing favorites. Some of us loved one shirt. Others loved a different one.

That’s natural and healthy. It means we care.

On the agency side, you need to find that same love for the brand. Maybe it’s just one little aspect of it. Maybe it’s a healthcare brand and you really connect with the way they treat their patients after surgery. That’s a very specific benefit. But if you love it, chances are the company’s customers do too. And that means it’s ripe for mining the best insights and marketing solutions.

5) Everybody Has To Think Beyond The Brief.

Assignments are just that: tasks. Tasks to be completed. Tasks to be debated. Tasks to be scheduled.

A brand does not achieve success based on the completion of tasks.

A brand gets to the next level when everybody involved thinks about ideas and initiatives that can’t be boiled down into a simple, one-page form. For Classic Dad, one assignment we gave ourselves was to create product diversification to show brand variety and versatility.

Seemed simple enough. Design new t-shirts.

But after mulling it over for a while, we realized something: a better way to expand the brand’s scope wasn’t in new shirt designs, it was in creating a new content model.

And so, TheClassicDad.com was born. Suddenly, we weren’t just a popular social account and shirt brand. We had transformed the brand into something even bigger and more interesting.

In Conclusion

Most of this is not earth-shattering. We get that. These lessons are just examples of how owning consumer brands has helped us better understand our clients’ needs. If you’d like to talk with us about your brand’s needs, just use the form below. Even if you’re not exactly sure what all of those needs are, because we’ve been there too.

About Bandolier Media

An established Austin social media agency, Bandolier Media can provide a strong voice and far-reaching presence for our clients. From digital marketing and video production to social media management, we do it all. Check out examples of our work.