Corporate Eye

Taxonomy of Ad Agency Names – Which Brands Get It Right?

If ad agencies provide creative and tactical branding services, then it stands to reason that they should be well-branded themselves. That’s not always the case. Often ad agency names are the product of mergers and acquisitions or agencies are named after the founder, which gives the agency brand a boring, stale, and often out-dated image.

Of course, the largest and most successful agencies that grew over time have had opportunities to create their brand images to become the well-known brands that they are today — or have they? It creates an interesting question. Is it time for some ad agencies to rebrand?

The creative team of Rob Donaldson and Joe Dennett put together an infographic that helps put things into perspective. Take a look at the Taxonomy of Advertising Agency Names below, which breaks agency naming conventions down into seven primary categories (in order of popularity):

  1. Founders: Crispin Porter and Bogusky, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Carmichael Lynch, and so on
  2. Living things: David & Goliath, Dinosaur, Razorfish, and so on
  3. Inanimate objects: Crayon, Viral Factory, and so on
  4. Places: Gotham Inc., Agency Republic, Hometown, and so on
  5. Physical or metaphysical attributes: Atomic, Dare, Anomaly, and so on
  6. Abstract concepts: Now, Proximity, Karmarama, and so on
  7. Alphanumeric: 4Creative, 101, BBDO, and so on

Many of the ad agency names on the infographic could appear in multiple categories. For example, BBDO is in the Alphanumeric category and the Founders category. While all agencies don’t appear on the infographic, the taxonomy could likely cover just about every ad agency name that you can think of.

Click the image to view the full-size infographic at the source.

Taxonomy of Ad Agency Names Infographic

Which ad agency names do you think are also powerful brand names? Which could use a rebranding? It’s interesting to turn the conversation about the importance of branding back to the agencies that create brands and brand messages for their clients every day. The lesson to learn is this — don’t get stuck in a rut with a brand name that evolved over time and is more cumbersome than valuable.

Image: Rob & Joe

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.