Thoughts on Venture Branding

by Holland-Mark | September 24, 2010

We recently announced the birth of our “Venture Branding” program, and I wanted to share a few thoughts on what it is and where it came from.

Put two ad guys in a room long enough, and eventually they’ll get around to complaining about how clients undervalue them. Weh-weh, a raindrop fell on me.

The truth is that a lot of what agencies produce isn’t worth more than what clients pay for it. Equally true, though, is that some of it is worth a great deal more than what clients pay for it. Such is the nature of professional services, I guess, and it will always be that way.

When Bain Consulting confronted this dilemma in the early 80s, some smart person in the room (Mitt?) said, “You know… If we really believe we’re creating more value than we can capture through hourly fees — that we really can fix companies that are broken — we should buy companies, fix them, and sell them for a profit.”

In that moment, Bain Capital was born. Today Bain Cap has $64 billion under management, a remarkable track record of success, and some of the smartest people I know, at least on the venture side. I think that’s pretty cool.

Anyhoo… one day we were sitting around whining about how we weren’t able to capture enough of the value we created. My partners and I talked about it. I relayed the Bain story above (which I love, whether it’s true or not), and voila, Holland-Mark Venture Branding was born.

So far we’ve invested in the Best of Boston and Best of Philly iPhone apps with Boston magazine, and Notch Session Ale with Chris Lohring. We’re also moving forward on a little downloadable application to extend the functionality of our content hubs, and noodling on a consumer product in the cocktail space we think might have some legs.

Will it go anywhere? Who knows. Is it fun, and does it make a statement about us and what we do?

Damn right.