8 Dec 2014

Are you a mason? Or an architect?

In virtually every industry, there is a clear differentiation in the type of work expectation and cost implication between high-value strategic thinkers and the volume-dependent execution specialists.

Let’s consider the differences between an architect and a mason.

The architect and the mason come with their own knowledge & skill sets. The mason is expected to follow the rules – but the architect is expected to experiment within the bounds of safety and function. And clients are usually smart enough to understand and appreciate that while the mason makes a building, the architect aims to create a landmark!

An architect is brought in when appropriate time and resources are available – and the potential returns (tangible and intangible) are proportionately significant. Like the design of a large and prestigious public building.

Or an architect may be brought in when the assignment has complex limitations – and only a clever architect could actually maximise the impact by working around the shortcomings. Like a millionaire’s pad in Manhattan where floor space is a stubborn constraint.

Most structures need a mason to build it – but not all structures need Frank Gehry to design it.

Here’s my postulation… In Advertising, there are genuine creative thinkers and really good execution specialists. Judging based on designation would be terribly misleading – but judging by the result of individual work should reveal who’s writing, desiging or servicing - and who’s building brands.

You will find that while the execution specialist is busy churning out prodigious quantities of ads, brochures, posters, flyers, rollups, backdrops and PowerPoint slides… the creative thinker is quietly working on an idea to make the brand stand out like a dramatic landmark against an otherwise dreary advertising skyline.

One keeps the agency bean-counters happy. The other gets frantic calls about a client’s looming travel plan.