R/GA is getting into the branding business. It’s about time. I’m sure they say “we’ve been doing branding for a while,” but now they can actually get paid for it.
At shops like R/GA, digital branding has basically meant riding herd on the branding idea and message planks as they pop out of the creative department — an account planning function, if you will. But upon further thought, the efforts of R/GA’s new practice, R/GA Brand Design, should go way beyond that. Crucial brand insights are more likely to emerge in the digital space — especially though the use of branded social nets such as Nike Plus http://nikeplus.nike.com/nikeplus/. Branded social nets will be the next big thing because they provide living breathing research labs for brand geeks.
I’m guessing R/GA Brand Design will now have a seat at the “adult table” when it comes to large corporate planning meetings. They’ll have to remember to leave the tactical suitcase at home, though.