Ad Agencies as Web Developers… Caveat Emptor!

Tom Snyder photo by Tom Snyder on May 07, 2003

The new Home Depot that's under construction in my neighborhood already has their signs up…the familiar orange logo that was designed by a top flight Ad Agency.

The store's grand opening will be promoted by a battery of high quality fliers and newspaper inserts, radio and TV ads and direct mail pieces, also designed and placed by a great ad agency in an effort designed to drive traffic to their new store.

Once in the store, people will have no doubt that they're in a Home Depot. The ubiquitous visual cues provided by the in-store signage and displays will leave no doubt. Are they produced by an Ad agency? Nope. The Home Depot is smart enough to trust this part of their brand to a specialist… a permanent display or point of purchase manufacturer.

What about the store layout? Large signs identify the plumbing, electrical, tool, carpeting, and paint areas. But because they do so in the officially approved Home Depot fonts, does that mean that they used an ad agency to develop their store layout to provide for the optimal navigational experience? Nope. The Home Depot is smart enough to trust this part of their brand to a specialist… a visual merchandising consultant who specializes in store layout, design and space utilization.

As a matter of fact, the deeper you get into the actual immersive experience within the store, the further you get from an ad agency's core competencies.

There's transactional software and hardware that facilitate the actual point of sale. There are the systems for inventory control that make sure that the merchandise is in stock, displayed and available for purchase and/or delivery. There are the policies that create the expectations customers have when they shop at Home Depot. There is the interactive communication of information that comes in the form of a helpful employee. There is the establishment and formalization of various unique relationship protocols (consumer sales, tool rental, how-to seminars, installation services, contractor services, even Kids' workshops).

Although they'll meticulously follow the creative lead of the agency that developed the logo and identity standards for the visual components, the professionals who specialize in these areas will be responsible for developing the actual relationship components.

In that world, ad agencies know what they know, and admit what they don't know. And they wouldn't dream of wading into areas that require specific core competencies outside of their own.

So why does that change with the Web?

A startling number of companies trust their Internet strategies to ad agencies whose limited expertise reduces an incredibly powerful business tool to a mere electronic promotional and marketing brochure.

And that's odd, because most agencies will tell you that a brand is not a's the unique relationships people have with you. But then they build an online presence that has nothing to do with those relationships because to accomplish that online requires knowledge of technology and business practices that most agencies know nothing about. So they sell only what they can do, and in so doing, actually hurt the very clients who are paying them to help.

Fortunately, there are a handful of smart agencies who form complementary partnerships with firms like Trivera that specialize in turning the Web into a total brand re-enforcement tool...not just the logo and visual identity, but all the business relationships that create the bond with your company that is your brand.

If you're using an agency with limited capabilities to do your Web presence, it's time to call Trivera. We can hook you up with several of the area's best agencies...guys who "get it."

And because they do, they work with us.

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