Branding has less to do with design than it has to do with a clear definition of what a product is and how it needs to be understood in order to accurately and actively present itself to people.
In reference to the point counterpoint debate. The old saying, "it comes in threes." It's been forty years since the sixties, and thirty years since the seventies when the paranoia ceased. During this time a new Consultancy was born to compete with advertising.
Corporate and Brand Identity Consultancies won the battle and advertising lost the war.
The relationship between Advertising Agencies and the new Corporate and Brand Identity Consutancies was ambivalent. Initially many Advertising Agencies saw Corporate and Brand Identity as something their own 'collateral' or 'below the line' departments could readily handle either for a small fee or if the accounts were big enough, free.
Again, the time honored phrase, "you get what you pay for." Not many clients were satisfied with the results. Another Ad Agency reaction deriving from their insecurity, was that the Corporate Identity Consultant was a threat. Branding Consultancies were viewed by Ad Agencies, it was thought, as a new kind of Consultancy aimed at stealing Ad Agency business and reducing their influence. Another agency reaction was that Corporate and Brand Identity Consultants were simply grandiose design studios with an inflated ego of their own significance. Year 2001 all of these misconceptions are dead and died by the seventies.
For the most part, far-sighted advertising agencies encourage their clients to use Corporate and Brand Identity Consultants where appropriate for Brand Strategy, Brand Research, Brand Positioning, Naming, Name Systems, Image Assessment, and Competitive Analysis.
Pioneering Corporate and Brand Consultancies such as, Saul Bass/Herb Yager and Associates; Paul Rand Inc.; Lester Ball, Don Ervin; Brownjohn/Chermayeff and Geismar; Morton Goldsholl and Associates; Ramond Lowey/William Snaith; Donald Desky Associates; Jerome Gould; Gerstman + Meyers; FHK Henrion Design Associates, and other World Design Masters paved the way.
The professionals were Lippincott & Margulies, Walter Landor Associates, Soyster Orenshall, Unimark International, Siegel & Gale, Anspach Grossman Portugal. (others). The aforementioned professionals employed sociologist, accountants, economist, psychologist, designers, marketing, trademark and patent lawyers.
Corporate and Brand Consultants understand everything in branding springs from the identity of the product and company, its architecture, interiors, print advertising, media communications, and e-branding. Advertising Agencies alone cannot comprehend clearly the nature of a corporation's brand. Too many cultural, organizational, political, economical and psychological factors are involved for which advertising executives have no training.
Realistically, I do not see management consultants competing with Advertising Agencies. Management consultants may retain an independant Corporate and Brand Consultant (e.g Tony Spaieth). Mega Communication Consultancies such as London based Incepta Group plc which owns Citigate Lloyd Northover-London,and Citigate Corporate Branding. Under this umbrella, Corporate Branding, Advertising, Marketing, Public Relations, and Management Consulting are integrated. The same is true for Omincom, WPP, Interpublic and True North. All of these power house communications conglomerates intergrate strategic and creative communications solutions under one roof. I cannot imagine Mercer Consulting giving advise in reference to corporate branding without recommending their client retain the service of Mercer Group's branding entity Lippincott & Margulies. Neither, do I see management consultants such as, Arthur Andersen or Booz Allen Hamilton giving advise on brand and identity issues without expertise.
I see Advertising Agencies wising up and taking a page from the Corporate and Brand Identity Consultants. Integrated personnel diversification is key.
Personal note: Leo Burnett; Carson Roberts; Papert Koeing and Lois; Young & Rubicam; NW Ayer & Son; J Walter Thompson; Doyle Dane & Bernbach; McCann-Erickson; Ogilvy & Mather and Foote Cone & Belding were the Advertising Agency brand builders that historically matched the brands bulit by the aforementioned World Design Masters, and Corporate and Brand Identity Professionals.