Rather than bore you with a long-winded and self-serving philosophy section, we’ve come up with a handy tool for prospective Rethink clients. Think of it as a "speed date" with Rethink. It’s designed to point out the differences in philosophies between various communications firms. When choosing a partner, it helps if you believe the same things.
There are no right or wrong answers— but there are real differences between companies. Click on the answer that best reflects your philosophy. Click on the Rethink logo for our point of view. Click here for a glossary of terms.
In the digital age, we believe you need an agency that understands the balance between art and science. Analytics mean there’s no shortage of data available to gauge how customers are interacting with your brand. This data, if interpreted carefully, can inform a strategy that is clear, relevant, fresh and true.
But turning a sound strategy into compelling communication is truly an art. It requires highly-tuned intuition and a real understanding of human nature. Engaging communications need an emotional component. You want consumers to fall in love with your brand. And love, as any poet will tell you, is less a science than an art.
On the surface it may seem that creating a logo is very different than creating a television commercial or a website. In one sense this is true— each area does require specialized technical abilities. But we believe that all great communication pieces have one core element in common— a simple, compelling, original idea.
When we look for creative people, we look for “idea generalists”— people who can come up with ideas in any medium. We then team them up with specialists who know the technical ins and outs of each area. This structure means we have one big creative department, instead of silos for advertising, design and the web. It’s a much more efficient system. And it means that our clients get great thinking that touches every point of customer contact.
At first glance, it might seem like an agency with lots of specialized divisions is perfect for today’s fragmented media environment. The problem is that you could end up dealing with five or six different project managers. This can lead to waste and inefficiency, with no one taking full responsibility for results. Dealing with different divisions can also make it hard to speak with one brand voice everywhere.
Rethink has a unique structure that makes us uniquely suited to the digital age. With us, you get all the benefits of specialized thinking in every discipline, without all the in-fighting and inefficiency.
We’ll assign one experienced account manager to your business, not 10 different people. You get a true generalist to manage projects that touch every part of your brand— from design, to digital, to TV and print.
Your account manager works with a hand-picked team of senior specialists in areas like data analysis, digital architecture, social media, communications planning, design and, of course, advertising.
At Rethink, we don't have a thick binder with a trademarked strategic planning model. We believe that these processes are a bit like formulas— they assume that if you plug the right information into a complicated model, you'll get the right solution. We believe every client's problem is unique.
Our strategic process is simple. First, we listen and learn— from both our clients and from their customers. This often involves data gathering and analysis, analytics, and both quantitative and qualitative research. After we've learned as much as we can, we brainstorm strategic solutions— often dozens of different approaches. Working with our client, we then eliminate options until we've settled on our strongest choice.
We then draft a simple briefing document summarizing all this. The brief is created jointly by our account people, the creative team, our analytics experts and the client, and is signed off by all before we proceed to creative concepts. At this point, our thinking is still “media neutral”— we focus on cracking a big idea first, then apply it to the right mediums for the project.
In the grand scope of things, awards count for very little. What really matters is getting results. At Rethink, we believe the best way to get results is to do work that gets talked about with consumers, staff and the press. This kind of work is by definition new and fresh and innovative— the very kind of work that also wins awards.
We use awards to generate press and attract top creative talent to Rethink. But we keep them in perspective. You won’t find a single award in our offices. We give them away or throw them in the recycling bin. In short, our clients— from Solo Mobile, to Sobeys, to A&W— care far more about selling things than winning things.
For the past 50 years, focus groups were used to gauge the appeal of TV ads at the concept stage. Groups of people were shown cartoon storyboards of ads and asked to imagine the effects of the final form.
In today’s digital world, this all seems quaint— and ineffective. A/B testing means you can quickly gauge the effects of real ads on real people in real time. We’re big fans of using new technologies to test versions of finished ads with consumers.
Focus groups still have their place— at the right stage in the process. They can be a great way to talk to customers about potential strategies before we attack a problem.
But using focus groups to gauge the potential of a concept is like trying to pick a cake by tasting the batter. People don’t connect emotionally with storyboards or animatics. They need to see the real thing (which is why we’ll often use groups to pick between several different versions of finished work).
Pay-for-performance plans don't have to be complicated. Take our Rethink Rebate. At the beginning of each year, we agree on a set of goals with each client. These include hard sales and awareness objectives, and subjective measures like enthusiasm and attention to detail. A portion of our total annual fee is set aside until the end of the year— up to 5 percent. Once the results are in, our clients assess us. They pay us some, all or none of the rebate. And as far as we know, no other Canadian firm does this with all of their retainer clients.
In our former lives at a big multinational agency, we spent up to half our time working on speculative creative pitches to prospective clients. After awhile, we started to notice something— after we won the account, almost none of the spec creative we did ever got produced.
The reason is simple: spec creative is done without knowing the client's business, without knowing the client's customers, without enough time and without any input from the client. It seemed like a crazy system— especially since it stole so much attention from our current, paying accounts.
Luckily, more and more clients started to realize the same thing. Speculative creative pitches are being replaced with credentials presentations. We meet, we talk about your problems, and we show you how we've solved similar problems in the past. It's a much better system.