Here's a great story about the back and forth between Dave's Gourmet (maker's of Dave's Insanity Sauce as well as other products) and creative branding shop DESKEY. Short recap: DESKEY offers to help Dave's with a complete rebrand of the company's products at no cost. Dave goes through the process, then balks. Did he do the right thing? Read the whole article here.
Something to think about: Would the final decision be different if the agency were more focused on growing consumption of Dave's sauces, rather than changing the labels? What exactly is the agency selling? Is it different from what Dave needs?
I've been on both sides of these kinds of meetings. There's enormous value in thinking through what a brand represents. And in the end, the process changes Dave's thinking in a good way. But when the product of the process is a new label or ad campaign, I don't think the process has gone deep enough. Branding is about the entire business, not just the look or cohesiveness of the packaging.
DESKEY's website says: "If branding is all you do, sooner or later you're going to get pretty good at it. And we were branding before 'branding' was a word." Well, that all depends on your definition of branding. If branding is advertising, packaging, and design, DESKEY is darn good. But branding is more than marketing. As I've written before, branding is the process of building a great business—from supply chains and ingredient choices to delivery channels and the end-user experience. Yes it includes marketing. But it is so much more. How many successful businesses has DESKEY built? How many has Dave built? Who knows more about branding—really?
Disclaimer: Of course, the article shortens several days worth of discussion into a couple of pages. DESKEY may have discussed other business issues that didn't make it into the article. If they did, great. But it wouldn't be typical of my experience in the advertising industry.
Hat tip: Brand Autopsy.