Different faces of competition
This is, of course, the buyer's point of view. Moreover, it is the perspective of a buyer who displays a more or less healthy lack of trust in the seller, or rather, the service provider. If we look at the problem from the other side, we cannot remain indifferent to the effort, costs, and time (which actually includes all costs) that an agency invests as a gift to the company offering more or less illusory hope of cooperation. And it is by no means the cost of a corporate gadget or even expensive self-promotional mailing. We can confidently compare it to funding a week-long all-inclusive vacation for two people abroad in exchange for a lottery ticket.
A tender is like… a lottery
Yes, in fact, a tender, a competition – the naming is completely arbitrary here – is a lottery. And anyone who sees it as a lottery for an advertising agency would be wrong. It is also a lottery for the organizer, who also devotes his time and effort (work), in other words, costs, for a still uncertain outcome. Remember that the main task of the marketing department is not to verify the agency's ideas. In a healthy, idealized reality, we could assume that the marketing department, represented by a brand manager, a specialist in... or the director of that unit, could devote themselves to nobler and more useful purposes than overseeing the work of other specialists. After all, marketing is such a broad field that visual communication alone occupies a relatively small area within it.
Art for art's sake
The thesis of this article – let's not hide it any longer – is the categorical claim that tenders serve only... tenders. . If you really have nothing important to do for your brand, you want to show off to a boss who is not very knowledgeable about the world of marketing, or you are simply afraid to make an independent decision, a tender may be some kind of solution. However, it is not a solution for your brand, your company, and it truly guarantees and safeguards against any potential danger of collaborating with an unknown or known partner. Why?
Where is the involvement?
First of all, tenders do not INVOLVE agencies. Which experienced agency with a good portfolio will actually "immerse" itself into the tender? Every highly qualified advertising specialist knows that, firstly, there are different paths to a brand's success, and it is difficult to choose the best one, and secondly, when several good agencies compete, victory is almost determined by blind chance because what else can we call taste, beliefs, or the marketing department's vision. The lack of actual commitment usually results in supermarket-like ideas, rather than tailor-made ones, even though effective advertising concepts should be tailored. The key to creating a good visual identity, a good logo, and good advertising lies in close cooperation with the marketing department - mutual understanding, trust, and full dedication to the work. If you choose an agency with solid references and achievements, you will undoubtedly receive a better final product from them than from five competing creative teams jumping from one topic to another within a week.
Are you infallible when it comes to your brand?
Secondly, the contest model assumes the infallibility of the marketer, who becomes the judge in their own case. As we all know, everyone considers themselves an expert in advertising and aesthetics, but it is a more mature approach to assume that someone who can be calmly called an expert will independently develop and lead a narrow range of branding tasks, and that they can be effective regardless of the evaluator's taste. After all, they will be based on a well-written brief, reliable market analysis, and attention to other aspects of marketing concepts like the 4Ps, 5Ps, and so on. That is where the marketing department should devote the majority of its time, leaving the graphic and aesthetic aspects to the people and companies who truly care about delivering good results of their work. Through this, they can build an interesting portfolio and achieve effective solutions.
Thirdly, the contest removes RESPONSIBILITY from both the agency and the marketing employee. The agency presents several ideas, sometimes recommending one of them, satisfied with the fact that it managed to sell any of the developed products in the end. After all, the goal is to work for money. It doesn't matter which one - the client chooses what he likes. On the other hand, the client, in this case the marketer, absolves himself of the responsibility of co-creating the final solutions. He present several offers to his superior and expects a joint choice of the "best" one, which most closely aligns with the vision of the team responsible for the selection. In this way, he doesn't collaborate with the agency to develop a solution; he merely refines in the best case scenario and ruins it in the worst case scenario. Ultimately, almost no one is responsible for the outcome. The agency claims that the client chose such a logo, while the client claims they took the best from what the agency presented. "Well, that's how the agency market works in Poland!" If the final decisions rested with the latter, they would ponder over each stroke much longer than yielding to the client's wishes. The concepts would be more refined, prepared with love and conviction for the project. Employees of advertising agencies truly enjoy what they do, and it is personally important to them. After all, they are largely artists and enthusiasts.
To end this article, we could bring up a number of analogies with other professional relationships. Who among us organizes a tender for the best medical diagnosis? Legal advice? Shoe production? No professional would agree to such an approach to the services they provide. By not trusting our business partners, not believing that someone has competencies equal or much higher than ours, we condemn ourselves to mediocrity. Good concepts require courage and individual decisions. And in the case of branding, they also require consistency, which is only possible when we, as marketing professionals, believe in our brand, our brief, and the good intentions of highly qualified business partners. Good research plus a well-planned brief can completely replace a long, multi-stage tender that ends with an intuitive choice of what simply appeals to me. Think about how many successful campaigns or brands that have made a brilliant career would you personally choose at the tender stage?