The Powerful Advertising Agency Building Personal Brand c/o Gary Vaynerchuk, David Droga, and David Ogilvy
I’ve been thinking about the power of the personal brand of Gary Vaynerchuk, David Droga, and David Ogilvy. The power of their brands to drive advertising agency awareness, expertise, and new business.
What is a personal brand? There are many definitions. I went to the website PersonalBrand.com for this definition (why not go to a company smart enough to have bought the URL PersonalBrand?)
“A personal brand is a widely-recognized and largely-uniform perception or impression of an individual based on their experience, expertise, competencies, actions and/or achievements within a community, industry, or the marketplace at large.”
Kinda wordy but you get the idea. My definition: “How people perceive you.”
I am keen on the idea of building and managing a personal brand for agency leaders and senior managers.
One’s personal brand is how you present and control your image to your market – your current and potential clients, your competition, and your staff (and, I can’t stress this enough, your future staff.) Your personal brand puts you in charge of your professional perception and lets you highlight your skills, thought leadership, strengths, and history.
The Advertising Agency and the Power of the Personal Brand
A master… David Ogilvy.
As I’ve discussed in my agency naming chapter, many agencies are named after their founder. In most of these cases, the founder is the face of the agency. The founder embodies the agency mission and soul of the agency.
Ogilvy the global agency continues to use the brand essence of its founder David Ogilvy who passed away in 1999. The agency’s Careers page quotes David and leverages his personal brand to help sell the agency’s creative street cred and soul to future employees:
“As out founder David Ogilvy put it, we seek people who are bigger and smarter than ourselves. That’s how we create a company of giants. We’re always looking for modern marketing and brand experts with big hearts and enormous talent.”
How is this for branding? In 1962, Time Magazine called him “the most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry“. Believe me, this recognition did not happen by accident. Ogilvy was a PR brand master.
1985’s “Ogilvy On Advertising” continues to be one of the best-selling advertising books. 40 years. Now that’s personal branding baby.
Gary Vaynerchuck and Ubuiquty.
Gary Vaynerchuck is arguably the most ubiquitous personal brand in today’s advertising and digital industry. He is the chairman of New York-based communications company VaynerX and is CEO of VaynerMedia. VaynerMedia is No. 5 on Ad Age’s 2022 Agency A-List.
No one in the advertising industry works their personal brand harder than Gary. His brand reminds me of James Brown’s reputation as being, “the Hardest Working Man in Show Business”.
Gary’s energy is boundless.
His Twitter feed, @garyvee, has 31 million Followers and, get this, over 205,000 Tweets. Interestingly he Follows close to 20,000 Twitter accounts including my Twitter feed. Loving back is a good thing.
His @veefriends has over 258,000 Followers. VeeFriends is an “NFT project around meaningful intellectual property and an extraordinary community leading to a first of its kind Web3 @veecon.”
Gary’s LinkedIn profile has 5.2 million followers. His YouTube channel has 3.9 million subs, and he produces 8ish videos a day. A day.
Gary’s personal brand is brash, intelligent, hyperactive, smart, and so prescient that it sells his agency every day.
David Droga and the Creative Personal Brand.
The David Droga brand, and its Droga5 agency, are all about creativity. It is an agency that nailed the ‘creative’ positioning.
Droga leveraged his high-visibility position (and award-winning expertise) as Regional Creative Director of Saatchi Asia to have it named Media Marketing’s Asia Regional Network of the Year. Advertising Age named the Singapore office International Agency of the Year. After moving to London, Saatchi & Saatchi London won Global Agency of the Year at the Cannes International Advertising Festival. Ad Age named Saatchi Agency Of the Year.
Droga just might be the ultimate master of leveraging awards for fame and fortune.
I could keep going… But note that Droga’s brand building was not an accident. This guy is a master at building his own brand to help build his agency to a point where it was purchased by Accenture in 2019. Like Ogilvy and Vaynerchuk, he knows how to play the agency PR game.
There is a personal brand downside. The Richard’s Group.
Having an agency associated with its founder can be negative. From Adweek’s Agency Editor Doug Zanger, “In October, news leaked that in an internal meeting for longtime client Motel 6, Richards, who at nearly 90 years old remained actively involved with the company, referred to a campaign idea for the client as being “too Black” and implied that some of Motel 6’s customers were white supremacists.”
The agency quickly lost four major accounts: Motel 6, Keurig Dr Pepper, Salvation Army and H-E-B.
The guy was 90 for Pete’s sake. Yet, his brand was fully tied to that of the agency. Wokeness should be considered and managed.
A side note. I have a personal brand. Adweek knows this and asked me for a quote for the article.
What About Your Personal Brand?
Today our personal brand is out there for all to see. We are on LinkedIn, on our website’s About page, in cute Instagram pictures.
Whether an agency leader wants to become as famous as David Droga or not – They have no choice. The market will brand you. The key is controlling it.
There are four elements to how to build and control your brand.
Brand definition: Define your area of expertise, your persona, and what you want to be known for. Be authentic and act like an authority. Be strategic and pay close attention to your client prospect profile and their own persona (your audience). Some might dig Gary’s chutzpah. Some might find it off-putting. That said, I’d rather be a high-energy Gary Vaynerchuk than an invisible agency CEO.
Ubiquity and Consistency: Optimize your presence. Start with your website. How are you presented? If you are a good actor, why not star in the agency ‘who are we’ video? Make sure your LinkedIn profile is well-written. And keep it going. Awareness is critical. Big branders are networkers and SEO masters. Get out of the office and meet people – easy to do digitally.
My LinkedIn profile is designed to 1) be very clear about what I do for agencies, and 2) provide a bit of background and personality – Basquiat and startups.
Strategic USA & Global Business Development Accelerator – I Help Make Make Advertising Agencies Unignorable & Own a Basquiat (happy) & Invest in Startups.
I’ve even written my bio as in My Story to demonstrate that I respect your time.
Visibility: If you want fame, have a plan for how and where you will deliver your personal brand story. Your plan will help you select the right distribution media. If you have a face for radio (LOL, an old line) then do a podcast. If you are a good writer, consider writing a book. Good speaker? Then go after speaking engagements.
Now, what about your people? The Droga5 personal agency brand.
Everyone in your agency has a personal brand whether they manage it or not.
762 employees at Droga5 have LinkedIn profiles. Each of their profiles adds to (or subtracts) from the master Droga5 brand. Many of these people have 500+ connections. Some are very active on LinkedIn posting and reposting and liking other people’s posts.
If we do the math, it is quite possible that these 762 Droga5ers have a LinkedIn ‘reach’ of over 152,400 connections. That’s 762 X 200. This reach could generate 152,400 views of a new agency campaign or news.
How do these people add to the brand value of the agency? Do they help or hurt the brand? I suggest that for at least very senior management, any agency should look at how its staff is presented on LinkedIn and on any other social media platform that they use. The agency could consider brand-talk guidelines that could be used across the sea of staff profiles.
No, I am not suggesting that you form a ‘social media personal brand’ police force. I am just saying that how your people are presented to the world will reflect on your agency brand. It is all additive, every day.
Here is what a Droga5 Group Strategy Director says in his About section. I think that it is additive to the Droga5 brand…
I bring together technology, business, media, and creative capabilities across the Accenture network to drive brand transformation.
+ strategic. fluent in both business and marketing consulting engagements
+ instigator. expertise in creating organizational shift and rallying others to something new
+ multicultural. globally minded, leader of highly diverse teams
+ entrepreneur. builder of businesses, departments, and Cajun food
+ creative. former filmmaker, maker of comics, and immersive theater director
How do your key future client-facing people sound? I looked at Droga5’s Head of Business Development since this position drives outbound communications and is, in many cases, the first touch for a prospective new client. Pat Rowley gets his brand right. It supports the agency’s ‘creative’ positioning. Some copy from his About section…
Strategic business leader, highly motivated to help ambitious brands achieve meaningful growth – through fostering collaborative partnerships and driving purposeful, effective work.
Impressive portfolio and experience over a wide range of categories for leading global brands in the US, Australia/New Zealand and Asia. Recognized for over 30 major effectiveness and creative awards at the shows that matter most (EFFIES, Cannes, D&AD) as part of collaborative teams at the world’s top agencies.
Some advice from a personal brand master.
Daniel Priestly, author of “Key Person of Influence: The Five-Step Method to Become One of the Most Highly Valued and Highly Paid People in Your Industry” recommends five key elements of building out a personal brand. Here are some quotes (edited for brevity) from an interview he did with Chris Do’s YouTube channel The Futur. Speaking of personal branding, Chris’ The Future has 1,403 videos and 1.98M subs. The video is at the bottom.
Back to Daniel and his five steps.
“The first thing is that they are phenomenally good at pitching, so they know how to pitch their own value. They know how to pitch the value of what they’re doing. They know how to enroll people into new ways of thinking and behaving.
The second thing that all key people have influenced do as they publish content, they often have books, but they will have podcasts and videos and blogs and articles and they’re prolific in their output they make it very easy for you to deep dive on their content.
The third thing is what I would call the product ecosystem. So, they’re not selling themselves they’re not selling their time for money but what they do is they position products and services and businesses around themselves so that all they have to do is just show up and tell stories and have fun and as if by magic everything that’s going on around them just gets lifted
The fourth one is profile. They’re fastidious about their profile. They got their reputation, they amplify their message on multiple platforms, they want to be in traditional media, they want to be on social media, they want to win awards, they wanna be on stages and platforms — all of that is profile building activity.
The final thing is partnerships, so they access resources beyond their control. So rather than trying to save up the money to do something they partner with people you already have the money and then they do it with him. Rather than necessarily getting a million followers, they might find someone who already has a million followers and partner with them to amplify the message.”
The Bottom Line. How do you look?
I’ll keep this simple: Agencies think hard about their website – every day. OK. But are they paying attention to their social media brand? Their aggregate social brand.
Review your personal brand. Perform a brand audit at least once a year. How do you look and sound? Does it match your agency’s positioning and mission? Does the brand help sell the agency?
Then consider reviewing the profiles of your key players. You all make up your brand story.
The Futur YouTube Video. Yes, Personal Branding For Chris Do.