The dating metaphor is well worn in our world of agency searches, but it’s tough to ignore the parallels: an agency that’s a perfect match for one brand might be a complete non-starter for another.

Marketers are quick to look for a new, shiny option, even when the best path forward might be reconciliation with their current firm.

AdWeek recently put out an article that looks at how varied these criteria can be, asking top brands what they look for in an agency. Some of the top answers? The usual suspects: collaboration, transparency, data capabilities, among others.

What’s maybe more interesting were the red flags that these marketers wanted to avoid: things like “AOR terminology” and “taking themselves too seriously.”

It speaks to a changing agency landscape, one that we’ve been examining through our survey reports in recent years.

More than ever, agencies are expected to bring ideas to the table and offer a back-and-forth dialogue, as opposed to one-sided execution. In return, you marketers seem to be less concerned with formal AOR relationships, and continue to value collaborative creative above all.

Like the world of dating, every brand is looking for something slightly different from an agency, and the same is true on the other side of the table, with marketing firms having their own set of criteria for their dream partnership. This makes for an inherent give-and-take dynamic, and again like dating, even a syncing of these “checklists” don’t always guarantee a fruitful relationship.

So what creates that spark?

How do brands go about finding (excuse the analogy) “The One”? In short, it’s about getting past the surface level and working through those initial assumptions, both good and bad. The best agency relationships are built in tandem, with a solid foundation built by an effective search process – exactly the reason we encourage and enable our clients to start asking tough questions long before even hitting the pitch stage.

And while there will always be some element of “figuring things out” after the partnership has already begun, our process puts you in the best position possible to start things off on the right foot. We’d love to have a conversation about how we’ve done this for clients over the last 10+ years – give us a call (513-293-6785) or drop us a line (, and let’s find the best match for you.