Crafting Purposeful Brands with Bill Backus

Bill Backus, Creative Director of Back:us Agency.

Welcome back, avid listeners of the Agency Accelerator Podcast! This week, we were joined by Bill Backus, the Creative Director of Back:us Agency. Bill, a visionary in the consultancy space, is on a mission to help businesses build compelling visions. In this episode, he shared his playbook for defining a brand’s true purpose and bringing it to life!

Bill Backus on the Agency Accelerator Podcast

Setting the Stage: A Journey from 17 to Back:us Agency

Bill kicked off the conversation by recounting his serendipitous entry into the world of advertising at the age of 17. Inspired by a chance encounter with an art director, Rick Lopez, in San Antonio, Bill’s journey led him to the Art Institute of Phoenix.

He navigated through various roles in ad agencies, transitioning from account services to the creative side. However, it was the influential book, “The Brand Gap” by Martin Neumeyer, that redirected his path toward strategy.

In 2012, Bill founded Back:us Agency, fueled by a deep-seated desire to support startups and small businesses, drawing from his own experience witnessing the financial strains of entrepreneurship in his family. The agency, with a focus on strategy, aims to guide clients authentically.

The Genesis of Back:us: Serving a Purpose Beyond Profit

Bill had a personal mission to save businesses from the pitfalls he observed in the industry. Back:us Agency was conceived as a beacon of support for startups and small businesses, steering them away from dubious strategists and fostering genuine partnerships.

Navigating the Competitive Landscape: Going Beyond Buzzwords

In discussing the competitive landscape, Bill highlighted a common trend among boutique agencies – a focus on social media, content planning, and the buzzwords of innovation and storytelling.

However, he emphasized the pitfalls of fixating on tactics and day-to-day execution without delving into the client’s core purpose. Bill’s unique approach revolves around understanding the client’s brand purpose, pain points, and crafting an authentic vision, differentiating Back:us from competitors.

Crafting Brand Stories: A Unique Approach

Bill shared a unique workshop where clients envision their brand’s eulogy, projecting 50-75 years into the future. This exercise sparks authentic conversations and reveals the brand’s true purpose, leading to powerful storytelling.

The output of these exercises goes beyond conventional deliverables, providing insights into untapped markets, potential new names, and innovative products or services.

From Purpose to Creative Execution: The ABT Framework

With the brand’s purpose defined, the next step is creative execution. Bill emphasized the importance of crafting a compelling story using the ABT (And, But, Therefore) framework.

This framework transforms the brand’s eulogy into a narrative that guides the design process. The story becomes the foundation for developing colors, typography, iconography, and the overall visual identity.

Tailoring Deliverables: Shifting Away from Templates

In addressing creative execution, Bill challenged the traditional approach of templated deliverables. Rather than prescribing standard assets like websites and stationary, Back:us Agency tailors its deliverables based on individual client needs.

This approach prevents clients from benchmarking against other agencies and allows for a more organic and customized creative process.

Guerrilla Marketing for Nonprofits: Beyond Websites

Bill shared a compelling case study involving a nonprofit client. Instead of immediately jumping into a website redesign, Back:us Agency initiated guerrilla marketing strategies.

The goal was to take the brand story to the streets, partnering with movie theaters and Uber to connect with a broader audience. This exemplifies the agency’s commitment to exploring unconventional avenues tailored to the client’s unique needs.

Bill’s Personal Journey and Parting Thoughts: Balancing Work and Family

The conversation wrapped up with a personal touch as Bill shared his proudest achievement – balancing his dedication to clients with family time.

He underscored the importance of leaving a legacy that goes beyond awards and accolades, finding validation in the small affirmations from his children. Bill urges fellow agency owners to ponder their agency’s future and societal impact.

“You could take all the awards off the shelf. The only awards I need are really those little validations from my kids. That’s what matters most.”

In Conclusion…

This episode of the Agency Accelerator Podcast with Bill Backus was a journey into the heart of branding and purpose. Back:us Agency’s approach, guided by authentic storytelling and customized creative processes, offers a refreshing perspective in the competitive world of digital marketing.

As Bill encourages agency owners to reflect on their purpose and impact, we’re left with the challenge of reshaping the future of the industry collectively.


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