On Wednesday, I had the privilege of attending a BCAMA Breakfast Series event. It doubled as the first in a series of events put on in partnership with Hyper Island. As such, one of Hyper’s finest led the morning lecture: Tim Leake, SVP/Growth & Innovation at RPA in Los Angeles.

Tim’s fascinating presentation, summed up on the BCAMA blog, had several key takeaways that Invoke strongly agrees with: create experiences that people want to share; eliminate pain points and friction; and shift ad spending away from traditional tactics towards digital initiatives that “create competitive advantage” and essentially “unlevel the playing field.”

Tim also emphasized the need for trust and partnership between agency and client. We agree wholeheartedly – and that’s what got us thinking when Tim, responding to a question from a local marketer, asked “Are you client or agency side?”

There’s no need for fisticuffs.

Call it semantics if you will, but language like this is indicative of a larger trend: one that pits agency against client, creating an additional friction point. So while we’re removing obstacles for our users… why wouldn’t we remove one for ourselves?

Agency and client aren’t supposed to be rivals. If there are sides at all, they’re two sides of the same coin. We’re supposed to work together to solve a problem, not create new ones. Of course we’re not always going to agree on everything, but that’s part of the process. Agencies and clients need to push each other to defend their decisions: like when designers and developers butt heads, it results in a stronger, more thought-out solution.

That’s one of the numerous reasons we refer to ourselves as an accelerator – of brands and startups – as opposed to a ‘digital agency.’

You are a team, so act like one.

Of course rhetoric only goes so far; a labelling exercise is meaningless unless we practice what we preach. That’s why we’re experimenting with new models of collaboration between our teams.

With the start-ups we work with – who may not have workspace of their own – it’s easy enough to bring them in-house. Right now, Invoke serves as headquarters for teams from Rosterbot, Cleanify, and Planat, among others. It’s pretty hard to view people you share a desk with or have lunch with as the enemy. The only rivalries you’ll find in those situations happen around the ping pong (or foosball) table.

In addition to the culture of camaraderie that this breeds, it’s also tremendously efficient. Decisions are made around the lunch table and if you want to hash something out, you’re steps away from a shared meeting space (and a keg of beer, to further grease those friction points.)

But what about brands?

Naturally, it’s not as easy for an established brand – sometimes based in a different timezone – to set up shop at 1 Alexander Street in Vancouver, BC. We understand that. But this doesn’t change the dynamic any more than it would with an Invoke employee who works remotely. Brands are our partners, so we treat them as such. Sometimes that means chipping in on things that are beyond the scope of a ‘traditional’ agency relationship – such as recruiting and training staff or advising on business process. Sometimes, it means being open to new ways of working, or making compromises for the greater good.

It’s through open, honest dialogue; an agile and collaborative approach to every project; and a genuine respect between all parties; that we strive to see each other as teammates and not combattants. We keep fighting the good fight, but we do it together. The result is not just a stronger solution but a stronger relationship. We make great things, and it’s possible because we do it with great people.

Isn’t that why we’re in this business?

Background image courtesy of Alan Kotok.

Feature image courtesy of Juha Haataja.