Slope Blog

Should You Make the Move to an Internal Creative Team?

[fa icon="calendar"] 8/14/18 9:49 AM / by Hassaan Bey

While in the past the majority of companies entrusted the creative end of content production to external agencies, this business tradition is slowly becoming less and less common. There’s been a recent move towards internalizing these projects by placing them into the hands of an in-house creative team.




This begs the questions: Are internal creative teams more apt to reduce costs and maintain or increase output volume than external agencies? If so, what kind of work should creative teams be focusing on and how do you even set up an in-house creative team? We’ll dissect the answers to these marketing questions bellow!

Benefits of doing creative in-house work

Every business decision should heavily consider budgeting and efficiency – the decision to shift to an internal creative team is no exception. There are basic considerations that can be tied to the benefits of turning inwards instead of outsourcing work. The benefits to doing creative work in-house include:

  • Cultural oneness
  • More devoted team
  • Cut in costs
  • Deeper understanding of the brand
  • Speed and efficiency for rush projects

The impact internal creative teams have on output volume

The biggest question companies ask when it comes to marketing materials is who can produce the highest quantity and quality at the lowest price. It is understandable to assume that in-house creative teams would be unable to keep up, however, this is not necessarily the case.

Unilever published a report that stated that there was a decrease in costs of 30% once companies shifted their creative efforts away from external agencies and towards internal creative teams. Beyond this, they reported they also noticed an increase in time efficiency when producing content.

By employing the right people and developing a clear vision for the creative process, internal creative teams can decrease production time and increase their output.

Because internal teams have the ability to easily access internal knowledge and have the ability to communicate with other departments with ease, there isn’t the problem of scheduling and waiting for the transfer of information that might be found when saddling external agencies with creative projects.

However, how do internal teams match up against using an agency?

Using an agency for creative output

Agencies offer a sort of comfortability in the creative process as they come equipped with knowledgeable talent, skilled in producing what the market will readily receive. Beyond this, there is the idea that by working in-house, the team may become too close to the brand and lose the ability to remain objective or conceive creative projects with a fresh perspective.

However, when remaining with an agency instead of shifting to an in-house team, you are more likely to see costs increase. You will be able to cut expenses on meetings due to a cost per hour basis of pay on the agencies end. In addition, less collaboration between departments in your company can result in a disconnect that is evident in the produced marketing materials.

How hybrid teams mix internal and external creative processes

Despite some of the negatives that come from remaining with an agency, some companies are not ready to turn away from the traditional roles that agencies play in the creative process. This leads to the idea of hybrid teams.

Hybrid teams utilize agencies for specific projects while other times turn to in-house teams for creative output. The hybrid process might also result in ideas being generated in-house but executed through outsourcing.

Hybrid creative teams can help to eliminate problems of perspective that might arise in an entirely in-house team by keeping inspiration fresh while outside sources provide input.

Whether you want to make the gradual shift to using an in-house creative team in the hybrid form or you want to cut your agency cold turkey and start a fully operational internal creative team, you need to know how to set up your team and how to manage your team’s output. Let’s go over how to do this in the next section.

How to divide an internal creative team

Deciding on the structure of an in-house creative team that will work best for the company is not an overnight process. You want to consider how you will split up your creative team as well as what positions you will be needing to fill in your team. Check out how you can set up your team in the following sections.

6 styles of in-house creative teams

There are roughly six different styles of in-house creative teams, although the boundaries that divide them are not necessarily set in stone. They include:

  1. A Marketing Communications Agency
  2. A Brand Creative Team
  3. A Shared Services In-House Team
  4. A Digital Team
  5. A Creative Production Studio
  6. Creative or Design Management Teams

The bandwidth of projects an internal creative team can stand depends heavily on the structure the company lays out for it. Generally, an internal agency can be split into Fulfillment, Analytics, Creative Operations, Account Services, Creative Services, and Media Services.

Common Positions of an Internal Creative Team

You also want to consider the kinds of positions you will need to fill in for your creative team. Positions you might need include, but are not limited to:

  • Account Managers
  • Copywriters/Content Writers
  • Marketing Directors
  • SEO Specialists
  • Photographers
  • Art Directors
  • UX and UI Designers
  • Graphic Designers
  • Videographers
  • Social Media Experts
  • Print Production Managers

Calculating costs in the creative field

Part of operating an in-house creative team is selling the benefits of your team over that of an agency or other outsourcing option. According to the 2018 In-House Creative Industry Report, 43% of in-house teams have had to prove their cost-effectiveness through cost comparisons of in-house work with external sources.

Calculating the costs of an in-house agency can be difficult when there are multiple factors that are involved in proving the worth of hours spent on a project. Using calculations that only consider hourly wages does not necessarily demonstrate the true worth of in-house efforts.

One thing to consider is that employing an internal creative team that has a diversified skill set can mean that projects that would otherwise take multiple professionals to complete can be assigned to a single employee with a broad skill set.

For example, if you have an in-house graphic designer who also does web design tasks, the company can assign the graphic designer both tasks that an agency would otherwise delegate to two people, and charge accordingly.

Deciding if an in-house creative team is right for your company

The switch to an in-house creative team instead of outsourcing to agencies can be difficult to determine since there is no simple way to calculate the differences between in-house marketing teams and agency creative teams.

While costs cannot be based upon bottom-line numbers alone, a metric strategy can be implemented to determine the actual value of an internal creative team in relation to external agencies. Aside from playing the numbers game, the value of creative teams lies in the intangibles of the quality of work produced and the increase in collaboration when working in-house.

Establishing an in-house creative team can be streamlined by implementing a project management system designed for creatives that simplifies the creative process and presents the entirety of the creative process in one place. Implementing a project management system integrated with specific tools that creatives use will help increase your team's efficiency and maximize the quality and quantity of your team’s creative output.

Hassaan Bey

Written by Hassaan Bey

Hassaan is the Creative Manager at Slope. He's worked with brands on hundreds of campaigns and projects to help tell their story.