Last week, BatesMeron was named the #1 Branding Agency in Chicago by Clutch.co. The announcement was made in their press release highlighting the highest-ranking marketing and advertising agencies in Chicago for 2018.
This is a really big deal to us. It’s not like we haven’t won awards before. We’ve been recognized our fair share for our creative and strategic branding and marketing work. The reason this is such a big deal is that Clutch doesn’t rate you based on personal preferences, popularity or how fancy the names are that you drop. There’s no way to buy this distinction. It’s SOLELY based on DATA and CLIENT REFERENCES.
Sara Philibotte, business analyst at Clutch said, “These companies demonstrated their excellence not only by providing top-notch services but also by exemplifying the highest standard of customer service… Only the top-performing companies in each industry are recognized as leaders.”
I wish more rating systems were arranged this way. I believe that because brands can so often bump up their rank by spending a few advertising dollars or knowing the right people, it’s made consumers very skeptical of the value of many awards in our industry.
And there are many amazing awards to be won, my friends. You won’t find a creative person out there who does not feel honored to win a CommArts or Print award, trust me. It’s very validating to have other creative people tell you that your work is inspiring. Plus, they’re a great way to attract talent to your agency, boost the confidence of your team and move with the shakers.
But these kinds of creative awards just aren’t as satisfying to me as an agency owner. And it’s because they’re missing something very crucial: our client’s opinion on the matter. I’m fond of reminding our team—more often than they’d like to hear—that what we do isn’t about winning awards, it isn’t ‘fine art,’ it’s design for the sake of strategy; design for the sake of meeting client goals and helping other people achieve their dreams. It’s not about us.
So, when a client takes valuable time—I’m talking about a scheduled 20-minute phone meeting—to share their honest feedback with Clutch about how we perform for them as an agency and an investment, I’m humbled! They have far better things to do with their time, and it feels so great to know that we work with clients who care enough to share their experiences with us. Be honest, how many of you will actually submit to a phone interview/survey? It’s really annoying, right?
Kelly Terlau, COO of Investment Answers (an awesome client of ours) said the interview was “very extensive and thorough. I felt like they were really there to understand what the process of working with BatesMeron was like for our team. They also asked about results, which we were happy to let them know, are fantastic!”
And don’t assume every client gives us a perfect 5-star score. Thank goodness! I would hate that. It wouldn’t be honest. No one is perfect and to imply so is phony. We love that our clients provide genuine and thoughtful feedback. How else are we to know where we can improve?
We’re also grateful to Clutch.co for being a trusted, established source for agencies like ours to be recognized and reviewed. If not for their stellar reputation in the industry as an independent data source, we wouldn’t be able to use this recognition to bolster our confidence with straightforward numbers and meaningful feedback. Our clients wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing their data with a research company that was dishonest or could be “bought.”
As a strategic agency, we frequently remind our clients to advertise to their consumer, not their competitor. And that’s a big differentiator with the Clutch award. As prominent as some awards are, they’re really only known to our design industry. We believe these data-driven numbers mean a great deal more to our clients than design-centric magazines because, let’s be honest, clients want to know what we’ll do for them—not what other creative people think of us.
Check out Clutch’s branding matrix here:
View our full Clutch.co profile here:
BatesMeron was built on the belief that there was a different way to run a creative agency. Founded in 2005, we built our entire value system off a Manifesto I wrote late one night when I was so fed up with a broken system, I couldn’t be a part of the mainstream agency-life anymore.
It wasn’t pretty at first. I ranted for more pages than I’d like to admit about how poorly the model for a typical creative firm was. I believed that there could be more transparency, a lot of respect and that my creative passion could be fueled by my clients, not out of fear of my boss. I also believed that people could actually enjoy coming to work, and that even the most timid creative person could thrive in a safe environment—where ideas are never mocked, never patronized, always considered.
Here we are, 13 years later and so much has changed! I bought out my partner nearly 8 years ago, we’ve graduated from a teeny, 3-room office to a really nice space on Michigan Avenue and we have a robust staff of mind-blowing creative talent.
But that Manifesto has never changed. It speaks of HONESTY, PASSION, TRUST and TRANSPARENCY. And most importantly: it reminds us every day that EVERY ASPECT OF THE CREATIVE MUST SERVE THE CLIENTS NEEDS. And we actually, truly, live it. We even like all our clients (we even love some of them…I know…”Boundaries, Becka, Boundaries!”) And I know you don’t believe that’s possible—but it is. We work for people we believe in, who support our ideals and stand with us on our values. That’s a pretty great feeling!
So here’s my Jimmy Fallon moment:
Thank you…clients, for the opportunity to work with you. We think you’re pretty sweet.
Thank you…BatesMeron team, for getting excited about everything from antique appraisals to plumbing pipe. Because you see the big picture. It’s not about the product or service. It’s about making everything interesting, and helping our clients surpass their goals.