A recent study by the Association of National Advertisers found that the percentage of member organizations with in house design agencies jumped from 42% to 78% between 2008 and 2018–and there’s good reason for this trend. Of those surveyed, 79% said they were satisfied with their in house team. This doesn’t mean, however, that you have to say goodbye to your external team to reap the benefits of an in house agency. Both have their advantages, and both have their place in your organization. While an in house team is best for scalable work, out of house agencies are great for major campaigns or projects that require a skillset your in house team doesn’t specialize in. The key is finding the right balance.
If you’re thinking about building an in house creative agency of your own, there are a few things to consider. Who do you hire? What resources do you need? Is it worth it? Below, we’ll discuss everything you need to know to get your team up and running.
Benefits Of In House Design Agencies
An in-house agency can be a huge asset; they understand how your business runs, how communication works, and there’s no conflict of interest when the only interest that matters is your own. And that’s not all. There’s a good chance you’ll see massive cost savings when you no longer have to pay as much in overhead for an external team–in fact, that was the most common benefit ANA respondents reported.
One of the greatest benefits of in house design agencies is that they can operate much more efficiently than a large external agency. To start, you don’t have to go through 2 or 3 (or more realistically, 7 or 8) middlemen to speak to them. Your in house agency will share your workspace, whether it be in person or remote, so communicating with them is as simple as sending a Slack message or knocking on their door. You can bounce ideas with them back and forth, schedule meetings at the drop of a hat, and you don’t have to wait around for them to finish dealing with another client.
They’re Part Of The Company
On that note, with an in house team, you are that team’s one and only client. This means that your projects are always the sole focus of the creatives you work with. If a project is your top priority, it’s theirs as well.
An in house team will also know your company better than an external team can, as they’re a part of it. They’ll understand your mission and values, your company culture, and the image you want to present to the world.
Another important advantage of in house design agencies is that they offer the company far more control than an out of house agency will. First, you have full say in who’s on your team, as you’re the one choosing them. Out of house agencies attract great talent, but they also see a great deal of turnover. You might love the creatives you’re working with only to have them replaced by less qualified creatives, less personable creatives, or creatives that don’t really “get” what you want for your brand. With an in house agency, this issue isn’t present; you can hire the exact people you want on your team.
You also have more say in where your advertising dollars go with an in house agency; you decide exactly what you’re spending your money on. The cost of labor is included in your employee salaries, there’s no refactoring a contract if you decide to decrease your content creation for the period, and you won’t have to pay extra for an additional blog.
The Resources You Need For Success
While in house design agencies can be incredibly advantageous, that’s only if they’re equipped with the right tools.
The Right People
The first step in building a creative team is finding your creatives, which can take some work. You aren’t just competing with other businesses looking for in house talent, you’re also competing with out of house agencies. While working at an internal agency certainly has its benefits (regular hours, lower stress, etc.), external agencies can look very appealing to candidates as they offer prestige, big-name clients, and often have a reputation amongst designers. To counter this, focus on your brand, your values, and the creative freedom you’ll offer when advertising open positions.
You might be wondering, where do I find candidates? The answer isn’t usually on job boards or Indeed. To attract highly talented individuals, you’ll have to work your connections and cultivate a positive image. A great place to start is by building a relationship with design schools and universities in your area, as these institutions are built to create talent. You could even set up a booth at their job fairs and career exhibitions. Of course, it’s almost guaranteed that prospective candidates will look you up on the internet before applying, so make sure your online presence is polished as well. Positive comments on job review sites can go a long way, as can the content you produce.
A Brand Guide
Brand guidelines are the rules and standards that a company uses to communicate its brand. Essentially, they’re an instruction manual on how to represent yourself to the world, including:
- Information about the business’s history, mission, values, and vision
- The company logo (in all of its different formats and colors)
- Acceptable colors (including the RGB and CMYK codes)
- Brand tone
- Grammar rules (ex. do you use the oxford comma?)
- Graphic elements and symbols other than the logo
Having a brand guide can offer an array of benefits. First of all, they help the company be consistent in their communication. This will make the brand feel professional, and more importantly, it will help the brand be easily recognized. When people associate your colors and your imagery with your brand, they’re more likely to think of it when it comes time to make a purchase.
Another benefit of utilizing brand guidelines for in house design agencies is that they allow for more efficiency. With brand guidelines, you don’t have to think up new images, colors, and typefaces for every new project. All of these elements will be stored in one location, and you won’t have to scour the Earth to find them. This will save the team a great deal of time, and as the saying goes, time is money.
For creative agencies, design software is an absolute must. At a minimum, your team will need image editing software, page layout software, and multimedia development software. These tech tools will help the agency create beautiful designs that live up to your company standards.
Sketch is a great resource for creatives, and the Adobe Creative Suite has some impressive resources as well. Photoshop is an excellent choice for photo editing, InDesign can work wonders for page layouts, and Illustrator is great for creating graphics and vector imagery. However, if you’re tight on funds, there are also some solid free options as well, such as Canva.
Project Management Software
In addition to design software, in house design agencies will also need project management software. This will help them stay on top of deadlines and document progress so they can better plan future projects. Plus, by automating tedious, time-consuming tasks such as tracking deadlines and auditing time spent, creatives are freed up to focus on what they do best–creating.
Though it’s often treated as an afterthought, proofing is one of the most important stages of the design process, as it’s where you solidify the client’s wishes and fine-tune your artwork. To facilitate this process, proofing software is a must. The right tools automate the administrative busywork, keep files organized, and put feedback into context. More important than that, however, is that proofing software gives designers a platform to collaborate on. The result? Fewer rounds of revision, a shorter turnaround time on projects, and more polished final designs.
Collaborate Better With Ashore
In house agencies can be incredibly valuable, but that’s only if they have the resources they need for success. Ashore streamlines communication, automates the unnecessary work such as sending reminders and notifications to review, and best of all, facilitates collaboration. However, what sets Ashore apart is that it weaves context into the proofing process; reviewers are put in a position to point to something directly and talk about it, all but removing the possibility of vague and confusing feedback. Between proof timelines, automated workflows, dynamic organization, and contextual commenting, Ashore users get their proofs approved 50% faster. So, are you ready for a better proofing process? Get started with Ashore today–it’s free!