An ad agency does to brands what school does to children: it shapes and prepares them for the “real world.”
The client is, of course, the parent; the one that makes the tough decisions and who ultimately knows and loves the brand the most. Yet, for a brand to reach its full potential, it must be challenged and taken out of its comfort zone. That is exactly what an agency should always strive to do.
Agencies are not meant to raise brands, rather they should educate them, help them figure out what they are and what they stand for. Why doesn’t the client do this by himself, you may ask? Well, just as parents do, the client needs outside help because he simply cannot be completely objective. Granted, “You can’t be neutral on a moving train,” as Howard Zinn would say, but an agency brings an external perspective that enables a brand to do much more than everyone thought it could.
Dropping a child at school that first day sure is difficult, but it is necessary for growth and character development. So, clients: breathe and let go. Your brand will learn, and you will learn from it. One day, when it is all grown-up, prepared to take over the world, you will look at it with pride and, simply, smile.