Yes, I’ve Been Here All My Life


A few years back I had a meet and greet lunch with an esteemed colleague. During our meeting he asked if I was a hunter. He meant hunting for clients. I hesitated a bit and answered “yeah.” I thought that’s what I was supposed to say, but my answer bugged me.  

I thought to myself, do I need to be a hunter to be in the creative industry? To own a business? Will it get me more clients? Will it make our agency more successful? I tried to justify my answer, okay, as a teenager I hunted. My first time was for deer but came with zero result. Too early, dark, and cold for me to sit in a tree for hours on end. Once I went duck hunting, but like deer hunting, sitting in a blind wasn’t my idea of fun either. The only thing I ever enjoyed about hunting was walking through the silence of the fields and woods. Reflecting on all that the other day it hit me: I’m not a hunter, but I am a gardener! Gardening and farming are in my blood. It’s what my family did for generations. It is what I’ve done as a hobby my entire adult life and what I continue to do today!

 I thought about the difference between the two and how it relates to this industry. Gardening is about patience and giving sustaining whereas hunting is about immediacy and taking. Some agencies approach their work as hunters, they make a kill and then move on. It’s transactional, the mission is to execute tactics. They execute tactics without thinking of the greater whole. Taking quick hits. Branding is a one and done for them, a new logo, slapping on a tagline, delivering a brand guidelines document, advertising, or perhaps a video. It’s a short game. Some agencies approach their work as gardeners that cultivate, grow, and nurture. It’s foundational. They do their job by getting to the heart and soul of an organization, prioritizing understanding the landscape, the conditions, and the DNA of the brand.


It’s a process that favors strategy over tactics, and the long game over the short.


Gardening works for Paragraph and is how we do our best work. Our goal is to help clients build their brand image for the long haul. Listening to the elements that are the brand and feeding, pruning, and tending those elements in order to realize a vision. Part of that is understanding that different brands, like different species of plants, require different attention. There are tactics or approaches that may work for some that have no relevance to others. There’s no ‘kill’ when it comes to gardening. There’s vision, milestones, moments, learning, and reflection. If properly tended, brands, like gardens, will continually evolve and live on for generations.  

Hunting isn’t for everyone. Gardening isn’t for everyone. They are two widely different philosophical approaches. Neither is right, neither is wrong. It is what works best for you.

Oh, did I mention that I fish? I’ll save that for another time.

Robert AretzComment