At PSFK Conference NYC, Danielle Sacks (Fast Company) led a thought-provoking discussion about the rise of the “New Idea Agencies” – companies that are thinking outside of the traditional client-agency model and creating their own products, brands, and intellectual property to launch direct to market. The panel, featuring Robbie Vitrano (Trumpet), Carl Johnson (Anomaly), Bart Haney (fuseproject), and Ben Malbon (BBH Labs), explained how their companies’ unique business models evolved and the struggles (and benefits) of agencies becoming their own clients.
Developing IP rather than just messaging is clearly an attractive idea. Why build brands that, ultimately, you have no stake in, when you can create your own products and services, under your own supervision and creative direction instead? Agencies like Anomaly and BBH Zag have created their own brands (Avec Eric and Ila, respectively) and are inventing new ways to partner with (or in some cases supercede) clients to create new, truly collaboratively-built brands.
But reimagining the paradigm comes with its challenges: failure is frequent and fast, Carl warns, and companies mustn’t try to be everything to everyone. They have to know what their limitations are and be as resilient as they are nimble. Owning one’s own portfolio means thinking about every angle of a product or idea and guiding its ‘real’ manifestation – through media, retail, and beyond. And, as Ben Malbon explains, when your client is yourself, it becomes that much more important to be fully invested in your product and to let the best ideas win.
Watch the video in full below: