Re-imagining the Boutique Agency
A reflection from WeThink CEO and co-founder, Patrik Thelin
Last month, we had the joy of celebrating WeThink’s 10-year anniversary, a huge milestone in a journey that I’ve had the honour of being on from the very beginning. Aside from celebrating, I took the time to reflect on how WeThink has grown since its birth, and where we stand in the vast world of advertising agencies. More specifically, I considered how agencies are defined by their features and the services they provide, and how WeThink should be viewed based on those distinctions.
We are a boutique agency – that’s something I’ve always been quite sure of. More or less everything seems to apply to us when I search online for the features of a boutique agency. A team of less than 30 people? That’s us. The ability to provide custom communication solutions for different clients? Definitely. Flexibility in deadlines? Delivering creative power with adaptable budgets? Strong communication with our partners? Yes, yes and yes. With so much to love, we wear the badge of the boutique agency with pride.
Blurring the lines
Despite the good name of boutique agencies, there’s an angle that comes up often when I read up on its definition: boutique agencies tend to work with small, local clients and are entirely different to full-service agencies. It isn’t clear if these ideas come from outdated understandings of boutique agencies or perhaps different cultural contexts, but we’d like to offer a rebuttal.
At WeThink, 90% of our clients are global brands, to whom we offer a full range of services for their localised or international needs. And although we’d certainly consider ourselves a boutique agency, WeThink is capable of providing the same services as most full-service agencies, all with minimal outsourcing. Considering that, it seems fair to see ourselves as a boutique agency that breathes new life into the term – the boutique agency 2.0 if you will.
Small but global
So how do we manage to elevate what a boutique agency can do? Of course, a major factor is understanding that the team is key. Our agency is built up of colleagues who bring a wide range of experience and skill sets to the table. Having a strong level of internal communication allows us to use our talents to understand our clients’ needs.
But it goes beyond the agency itself. Since WeThink was founded 10 years ago, we’ve held onto strategic partnerships that initially helped us strengthen our position as a full-service lead agency in the Nordics, but later helped us grow internationally. A combination of an agency made up of different nationalities (including colleagues that are native speakers of Nordic languages) with a local network of knowledge enabled us to assist clients in entering the Nordic market, whether they be locally-based or coming from abroad.
But to remain a boutique agency and also have a global standing, a global network is needed. By having worldwide strategic partnerships, like we have with other independent agencies through CommUnity International, we can see further than we would through our local lens. Communicating with other independent agencies gives us great insight into local knowledge of other markets, which has become a key factor in keeping up with the global world.
The world is changing – we get it
Taking the time to think about what it means to be an independent boutique agency is necessary in my eyes, because it reminds us that the landscape of (digital) marketing is constantly changing. Businesses all over the world are rushing to launch themselves into the global market, and how they go about doing so comes down to what kind of agency they think suits them best.
In building a global brand, you of course want to work with an agency who can support all your needs, but you’ll still appreciate partnering with a down-to-earth team of experts who can offer you a single point of contact – and all that, WeThink can provide.
Feel free to reach out to me if you’re interested in learning more about our approach to being an independent boutique agency.