Death to blogs. Long live blogging! (Part 1 of 2)

One day this blog will die. We will be the ones who kill it.

It’s just that we’ve been rethinking the whole “agency blog” thing (blogs published by advertising, brand and design agencies). But in order to understand where we’re going, let’s look at where we are from an agency blog standpoint… with diagrams!

All the examples below are blogs that we check out on a daily basis. We admire all of them. We like what they’re doing and are inspired by what they’re saying. This is simply an analysis of format and relationships, so we’re using examples that we know and love.

EXAMPLE ONE: The Individual Brand Blog

The individual brand blog is a forum or platform for people to think, write and express themselves. They’re not usually affiliated with a specific agency, though the people who create these blogs might be agency employees. These are the blogs that build personal brands.

Some examples we like are:
Russell Davies
Seth Godin
Guy Kawasaki

While all three of these guys work at “agencies” in a loose sense of the word, each of their blogs is an expression of their individual brand.

EXAMPLE TWO: The Agency/Blog “Cousin” Relationship

This is more of the “traditional” agency/blog relationship. There’s an agency website that talks about what they do, shows some work, and provides a way to contact them. The blog is usually a separate entity, which may vaguely resemble the agency site, sometimes not. The blog tends to talk about how they think, their culture, and may highlight recent projects.

Some examples we like are:
Organic / Three Minds
Wieden+Kennedy London / Welcome to Optimism

All of these agencies have blogs (though W+K has different websites and blogs for their offices around the world). The agency website links to the blog, the blog links to the website. But I haven’t visited any of the agency sites in ages… I’ve only been to the blogs. Good content on both sites, but the really interesting, frequently updated stuff seems to appear more on the blog than on the agency site. I don’t know how much traffic the agency site gets vs. the agency blog, but with changing, relevant content, I’ve got to figure the blogs get more frequent, repeat visitors.

EXAMPLE THREE: The Agency/Blog “Do I know you?” Relationship

Oddly, in some instances the agency site doesn’t even acknowledge the agency blog. Or maybe it was that I couldn’t find the link.

An example we like is:
Leo Burnett Canada / Fruits of Imagination

The Leo Burnett site is great, and their blog is great, but the site doesn’t link to the blog. In fact, I think I only found the blog through a link from another blog. I don’t know what kind of traffic the agency site gets vs. the agency blog (though I assume the Leo Burnett one gets tons of traffic because of all the awards it’s won), but the blogs have something new and interesting almost daily. Do the agency sites get updated that often?

EXAMPLE FOUR: The “My Agency Ate My Blog” Relationship

Sometimes the blog lives within the confines of the agency site. It is usually a section of the site, but there isn’t much crossover of content from the blog to anywhere else on the site.

Some examples we like are:
Well, I found some examples, but I didn’t find the content all that inspiring. And I’d rather you left inspired than see some uninspiring examples. The examples try to make you feel like the culture is “relevant” because the blog is within the overall site, but it comes off as feeling a bit flat. The “blog within the site” have sort of a propaganda slant to them, like they’re being controlled by the Minister of Information. The idea of relating the agency brand across all media is good, but the execution needs help.

So that’s where we are today. Some inspirational blogs, insightful thinking, excellent ideas. But we think there’s something next… these are simply the early days of agencies as publishers. Communicating is a good thing. But how can we tell better stories, use technology as a strength instead of a limiter, and communicate our thoughts, ideas and inspiration?

We’re guilty of doing this blog thing the way it’s being done elsewhere. And we’re loving the blog. But next up, we’ll look at where we think this publishing model is headed, and what we can do to evolve it.

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