Should we contract a design firm to help us with our branding and communications? Or, would it be less expensive to set up an in-house creative department to help our corporate, sales and marketing teams?
Many companies have some version of an in-house creative department as an extension of either Marketing or Corporate Communications. There are obvious benefits to this model and some drawbacks as well.
On the plus side, having creative people within your company provides a resource that has a familiarity and a depth of understanding that may be difficult to find in an outside source. The downside is that if an in-house creative team is steeped in its own culture, brand positioning can lack objectivity and fresh perspective.
The shift between in-house and outsourced design tends to be cyclical. The choice to go in-house is often based on economic restraint vs. a commitment to effective branding. A company may determine that it’s just too expensive to have an outside design firm doing all, or any, of their creative. So they decide to hire their own creative to design various corporate collateral. Fast forward a few years. The frustration of the sales team or the marketing people over the mediocrity of their presentation material and website reaches its limit. A cry for help is heard and, after much persuasion, the search for outside help begins. A design firm is contracted.
Fast forward again to a time when the design firm has entrenched itself with the corporate culture, has produced very professional communications, and by doing so has raised the bar and increased the brand equity of the company. The company (usually the CFO) examines the costs of working with an agency and thinks, “Here’s an area where we can cut back. We’ve got good branding and collateral. We can manage this ourselves…” And so the cycle goes.
I would like to suggest that a hybrid of in-house creative and agency insight is often the best solution for both budget concerns and effective communication. Finding the right creative partner can be challenging, but a seasoned agency, with a broad experience can provide the outside perspective and expertise that complements your in-house creative, offsetting the deficits that arise from being singularly skilled or short-handed.
Our design team model has always been focused on providing such supplemental services. In fact, we are often called on to partner with in-house marketing or corporate communication departments, either on a consultative or contractual basis. We also act as a creative “swat team” supporting advertising and marketing agencies that need a unique skill set for specialty projects or overflow work. We’re a small firm with big experience and we always welcome new opportunities to assist in an enterprise’s brand communications needs.
HOW AN OUTSIDE AGENCY CAN PROVIDE VALUABLE SUPPORT TO YOUR IN-HOUSE CREATIVE TEAM
- Help you define your business, your opportunity, and your brand.
- Create a strategic communications plan and key messaging aligned to company objectives.
- Develop graphic standards that guide your team in its efforts to maintain the integrity of your brand.
- Offer insight on current trends in communications, media and design.
- Deliver fresh, professional design that captures the attention and imagination of your target audience and compels them to respond.