Internal vs External Design and Creative Teams: The Pros and Cons
There’s something I need to get out of the way before you read on – it’s a bit of an elephant in the room. And that’s the fact that as a Director of a Design & Marketing Creative Agency it’s pretty obvious that I’m going to be a supporter of Team External.
But bear with me, I’m sharing my insights based on experience to genuinely help. To stimulate thoughts. To help you make the right decision for you, your business, your customers and let’s not forget your stakeholders. All I ask is that you are open to the idea of tossing aside the ‘but this is the way we do things around here’ approach and see things in a new light.
As ever, I jotted down my thoughts before putting them into a blog. I started off by writing a list of pros and cons of using an internal creative and design team, but when I looked down at the completed list, elbow on desk, hand on jaw, head to one side, it became apparent that the pros were actually the foundation for the cons.
Let me show you what I mean. Here are the three biggies that are likely to come top of anyone’s list of pros for using an inhouse team:
Understanding the brand
I’ve worked with some outstanding in-house talent and seen great results. After all, no one understands the brand’s values, mission, and vision like they do. Definitely a plus point. But even the most creative geniuses can experience dry spells when only having the one brand to focus on.
Being so familiar and so close to the same products and services day in day out isn’t always a good thing. Creative exhaustion can take a hold from the constant pressure of having to come up with fresh ideas over and over again, and when this happens the spark can fade and it’s incredibly difficult to reignite.
There are tell-tale signs when this happens too; the easy route is adopted which relies on calendar marketing or the rolling out of the same concept over and over again with just a few tweaks here and there to give the illusion that it’s different. I’m afraid to say, that no one is fooled by this, and your customers will experience marketing blindness. Your brand just won’t get noticed. You’ll blend in with the crowd.
Always on hand
Having your own in-house team means that the directions you give take priority – if you need a member of the team to drop what they’re doing for a day or two to see to an urgent request for example, you just have to say the word.
But maybe this convenience, this ease of accessibility, causes more harm than good. Being taken off a project, even for a short time, will disrupt focus and while preventing one crisis from occurring, you run the risk of potentially starting another.
On the surface, having an internal team may appear to be the most cost-effective approach – it’s definitely the simplest. Let’s say the team consists of one executive and a couple of designers. You’ll know exactly how much this costs the business every month.
This is great if the workload every month is pretty consistent and between all three members of the team, they meet all the needs of every campaign.
It’s a safe approach. But safe isn’t always good enough. Safe can stop you from thinking outside of the box and exploring new ideas.
The hidden extras of hiring an external creative agency
All external agencies and freelancers are a bit Superman. They may appear to be regular creative types that fulfil briefs, but there is in fact an abundance of hidden superpowers you need to know about.
They see things differently: External creative teams will inject new perspectives and deliver a fresh way of thinking. They will identify opportunities that have gone unseen and due to their varied experience and valuable external influences, they will be best placed to put a different spin on things – a spin that your customers are actually craving.
Their network: You’ll find that they surround themselves with specialists who can be brought in when needed. So, should your campaigns benefit from bringing on board expert writers, social media strategists, web developers, PR experts and the like you can bet that they have access to a wide range of top talent.
As it turns out some of the larger London agencies have Snoop Dogg on speed dial! Handy if you’ve a cool £5million to pay for a legend rapping about tacos in the chateau.
They take the pressure off: There’s always the case that every now and then, your internal team need a helping hand. I’ve been around long enough to see the reluctance to ask for external help, but collaborations when managed well, can be a real breath of fresh air. Believe me, when I say that asking for help is not a failure – it’s a strength and the success of future campaigns will prove that.
They’re risk takers: Creativity is so much more than aesthetics, artistry, and a vision that resonates. It goes beyond fresh thinking. It’s about pushing conventional boundaries and stepping out of comfort zones.
If Fallon London hadn’t taken a risk and created a concept where a gorilla played the drums to a Phil Collins classic to sell chocolate bars, we would have missed out on one of the most iconic adverts ever made.