Some questions seem to pop up time and again; therefore, we've compiled a few and responded briefly below. If yours isn't addressed here, just ask your question by email.
This is a tricky question, as there is no single “right” answer. (You’re also likely to get very different responses, depending on whom you ask.) In general, a creative agency exists to solve murky, complex communication problems.
At our agency, we work methodically to identify the problem that needs to be solved, determine an effective solution, and subsequently execute upon the chosen description. Depending on our client’s needs, the end product might range from an advertising campaign, to a brand strategy or identity system, to a digital solution or technology.
We feel that one of the greatest strengths of a good creative agency lies in its ability to respond to each individual situation, no matter how ambiguous it might be.
Clear-headed ones, who have a good understanding of what they need, and can sensibly digest and act upon feedback. Determined ones, who want to better connect with their audience, and are willing to sacrifice something to make that happen. Brave ones, who are committed to moving forward, even if they might upset the status quo. (In our experience, this is the price of entry for doing anything meaningful.)
If you aren’t quite ready for that, there are tens of thousands of other agencies who’d be happy to take your money anyway.
You’ll have to decide that for yourself. What we can say is that some love us, while others hate us. We aren’t good “order takers,” so, if you need someone to simply follow instructions, we’re not the ones to call.
As a general rule of thumb, those who like us want to work with professionals who can provide strong, informed, and opinionated insight. They appreciate that they’re paying for intelligence, and expect a slap in the face if it’s necessary. Meanwhile, they don’t want to be “schmoozed” by an account manager; they just want direct access to the people who do the work.
We have spent the past decade establishing a highly structured methodology that guides all of our endeavors. In our minds, this approach is one-of-a-kind, and unmatched by our (highly competent) peers. It is quite possibly smashLAB’s most valuable asset, and we continue to refine it daily.
You won’t experience this process unless you engage our creative agency. As open as we generally are, we don’t share these methods publicly. What we are willing to impart is our general working ethos, also known as our Principles. It’s a simple set of beliefs that we live by, and work to impart amongst new staff members.
Design is terribly misunderstood. Most feel it’s a democratic, consensus-based exercise; therefore, creative agencies work really hard at producing a number of ideas for a given assignment. Then, they pair these down to a few that they “pitch” to their clients. At that point everyone weighs in, and the proposed directions get beaten around, mixed-up, and mushed together until the customer is left with a drunken train-wreck of a campaign.
We take a different approach. We lead the design process through something called The Inverted Pyramid. This is a research informed and strategy led process, in which we achieve insight and then generate a single direction that meets our client’s goals. We then refine this approach as we gain feedback. This sensible and structured method leads to solutions that overcome real business obstacles.
In order to start a discussion, we need to know what sum your organization invests in annual marketing. We also require a clear and succinct list of the marketing challenges your organization faces. These needn’t be exhaustive, or steeped in rhetoric; we just want to know (in plain language) what’s standing in your organization’s way.
We then ask you to do your research. Look closely for agencies that feel right for you, and interview those that rank highly. You’ll really need to trust whoever you engage, so, be sure of your decision before you agree to anything.
Upon being engaged, we simply ask for access to all of the stakeholders, timely responses, and candid feedback. In order to do our best, we have to work with decision makers who we can interface with directly. We also need them to be clear about what they need, want, and think.
We’d prefer you didn’t. RFPs (in our business) are largely ineffective for all concerned. They take an inordinate amount of time for us to respond to and, on the client side, they tend to attract the very worst agencies: those who have no choice but to respond to RFPs.
The fact is: engaging a creative agency isn’t as straightforward as ordering some new hardware for the office. It’s about finding a group with deep expertise that can understand what you do—and that you can trust. If you think we might be right for you, just call us at 604 683 2250 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Even 30 minutes on the phone should help us determine whether there’s a fit.
We don’t really have an “average project” here. Almost every engagement has its own unique requirements and challenges. And, for that matter, we really don’t like engaging on one time projects. (It’s hard to make a one-night-stand turn into anything meaningful.)
We ask those who are thinking of working with us to have a clear marketing budget determined for their organization. With that number in hand, we can look at what they want to achieve, and determine what’s realistic within that budget.
To give you a general idea, though, it's worth noting that we rarely engage with clients who have less than $100k to invest per year.
We have a good reason for staying small: we abhor bureaucracy and unnecessary hierarchy. Instead, we give our clients direct access to the people who do the thinking and the work. Meanwhile, we speak frankly and ask our clients to do the same. Great creative doesn’t come easily, but by communicating clearly, we’ve been able to help a number of groups find their stories and tell them effectively.
Through over 12 years of solid work, we've gained international recognition from some pretty impressive folks. Our creative has received awards from the Advertising & Design Club of Canada, the Lotus Awards, Graphis, the Web Marketing Association, and the Adrian Awards. Meanwhile, we’ve had our share of press, ranging from Metropolis and Applied Arts, to the Financial Post and TIME.
We recognize that whatever we say about our agency will sound like a pitch (we are in marketing after all). So, we’ll let someone else do the talking. Give us a call at 604 683 2250 and we'll connect you with some existing clients you can speak with directly. Nothing quite says what we’re about like the testimony of those who’ve already worked with us, and have experienced our service first hand.