THE DESIGN DILEMMA: IN-HOUSE VS AGENCY

As an agency we often find ourselves talking about how to work best with clients who already have in-house design teams, and what the most appropriate solution is for them. There are advantages to both internal teams and external agencies, but there are ways you can have the best of both worlds.

Here’s a quick run-down of the advantages of in-house teams and agencies.

INTERNAL TEAMS

  • Costs are minimal. Staff are paid an annual wage, and there are rarely any unexpected costs throughout the year.
  • They completely understand the business, including the objectives and the company ethos and brand.
  • They can plan further ahead as they don’t have any other companies to design for.

EXTERNAL AGENCIES

  • You have the ability to demand more from agencies. They will fulfil greater expectations, as they want to keep you happy so you come back to them.
  • They will often take on extra work with a short deadline. They work the time you pay and hope that they will become the agency you will call on again in the future.
  • You do not have to worry about HR, holidays, sick pay and work schedule.
  • New designs require time and new thinking. An external agency will be innovative and push boundaries.
  • Agencies have clusters of passionate pro designers. Often excellent designers and developers choose to work in agencies over in-house teams as they do not want to be tied to one client and one set of products.

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BEST OF BOTH?

One way of having most of these advantages is to have both an in-house team and an external agency. Here are some common models that brands we have worked with like to use.

  • Fresh thinking and concept. Our relationship with Pacific Magazines in Australia is formed around our experience working with magazines in the UK in subscription marketing. When it comes to a campaign, they give us the brief, we come up with ideas, finalise the concept and then supply open design files. The in-house team turns this into banners etc. This saves them money and time, as they only pay for concepts and do the roll out across the entire portfolio themselves.
  • Overflow. Sometimes unexpected things happen and the in-house team cannot cope with the amount of work that needs to be done in such a short window. It is useful at these times to have a reliable external agency who are ready when the in-house team can’t handle the work. We currently have this relationship with Dennis Publishing and Hearst magazines.
  • Liaison between client and agency. If the client doesn’t have the knowledge to give specifics on file and tech requirements, the in-house team can liaise between the client and agency and give specialised briefs.

Choosing to go with an in-house team or agencies really depends on the company, but a combination of the two can really work for most businesses, and the ways you can implement this strategy vary as much as the range of agencies and in-house teams that exist.