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Creative Process


Rebecca Meyer


On the benefits of having your in-house design team and an external creative agency collaborate



There is often a bit of a divide between the in-house designer and the agency designer with quite a lot of stereotypes assigned to either side by their counterpart. "In-house designers only know how to design one thing!" "Agency designers are elitist and too good for doing the day-to-day stuff" "In-house designers don't have vision!" "Agency designers don't care about the longevity of their work! Once it's handed over to the in-house creative team, it all falls apart!"
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Interestingly, both the founders of Chukster have worked in various in-house roles before we set up our agency. And although the above statements are clearly exaggerated, we can definitely see where they are coming from. I clearly remember the time whilst working for the in-house creative team of a video game publisher when we received an awesome and complex logo for one of our titles designed by an agency partner that could not be flattened without completely losing all the character and personality. Printing it proved near impossible - and blowing it up for a billboard for one of the events we were organising was a mammoth task. Equally, I have experienced some burn-out from working with the same 3 brand colours and imagery over and over again. Not so much falling out of love with it, as becoming so accustomed to expectations and guidelines, that the brain would immediately shut down any ideas outside of the brief's initial scope. 

Your in-house designer (or creative team) is doing a brilliant job. They know your brand inside out, they rarely "get it wrong", they work fast because they are very familiar with all your assets - and they are reliable, close at hand - and a valuable, funny, and most likely sarcastic colleague. 

Your in-house designer (or creative team) probably has days when they feel stuck in a rut and they would love to change your trusted corporate blue with a fluorescent pink. 

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Bringing a Creative Agency into the mix - be that on a project or an on-going basis - is not competition for your in-house team, they will never replace them. It is however a very worthwhile investment, with multiple benefits:

01) The creative agency will bring new ideas to the table. They will look at your brand, your positioning, your storytelling and your assets with fresh eyes.

02) An agency will likely offer additional skills your in-house team may not have (illustration, animation, 3D, content creation - video/photography). This can be beneficial if you want to add new elements to your visual identity or run a specific campaign for a new product or communicate an important message.

03) Your in-house team is so involved in the daily workings of the brand that they may not get the time and headspace to really sit with a task and let it take shape by exploring various avenues. Working with an external creative agency will allow them to step back and relook at the brand, the positioning, the audience, and their creative output with fresh eyes.

04) They may learn a thing or two. By working with an external agency on a project, your in-house team will likely pick up some tips and tricks, be introduced to new workflows or tools that will add value to their work going forward.

05) They will get a new set of tools, ideas and design assets to work with that they can use, decline and play with past the end date of the specific project. This may be a new set of illustrations introduced in this campaign that will live on, a set of icons/graphic lock ups that become an integral part of the brand design library or an animated version of the logo that will continue to bring some dynamism to future digital assets.

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All in all working with an existing in-house designer (or team) is a dream for an external agency as they get a talented and knowledgeable colleague for the duration of the collaboration - someone that can introduce them to the brand and all its assets, and pinpoint any pain points when it comes to design and communication, allowing for the agency to get involved where it matters most. Additionally, they know that once they handover tools and assets, there is a competent person (or team) to pick up where they left off - and ideally, a longterm partnership can create a dynamic but stable creative output.