I’ve heard people claim that branding is dead. But it’ll really only be dead when humans become something other than personal beings. Still, there are some situations you really shouldn’t try to do branding. After all, a brand is a well-developed philosophy of who and what an entity is. It’s complex. This means it can be really powerful, but it can be mucked up.
You can pay an agency to make you look good, but it’s lipstick on a pig if you can’t take leadership. The organization can use the agency to help them find a direction, but then the organization has to buy into it. And you know what else? They have to understand the philosophy and be able to extend it and readjust down the road.
If they’re paying an ad agency to do that for them, but they’re not ready to lead the change they’re asking the agency to claim for them, they’re asking for a long string of disappointed customers and increased frustration. By taking on a brand image it can’t back up, making promises (both explicit and implicit) it can’t keep, it’ll be worse than if they’d never rebranded.