Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Which is best - big design agency or small design agency?

Are big agencies better than smaller creative groups? It depends... of course.

It's something that gets discussed frequently within both our creative circles and also with clients when chatting openly about past experiences and ongoing client/agency requirements.

We have first hand experience having worked in 50+ staff agencies down to five man creative enterprises. These two models are at opposite ends of the creative service offering. Larger agencies will generally employ new business sales people along with account handlers to work between the agency and its client. It's a solid strategy and similar to many other types of business however as any creative person responsible for actually generating ideas or the end creative product will testify, the account handler will be a buffer between themselves and the client.

Chinese whispers can creep in and a whole heap of trouble can result from not being able to get to the core of requirements, timings or expectations. It's a very common problem and one that has been proven to be largely eradicated by having creatives available to clients from initial project briefing to day-to-day questions and discussions. Perhaps it helps that there's no 'selling' being done and a sharper focus on direct delivery by not going via an account handler. Creative designers don't work on commission or have sales targets afterall!

Another key benefit that a smaller creative design agency can deliver is speed. Again from experience, a larger agency simply takes longer to do things. It's a simple fact that the more people involved in developing any creative solution, the longer it takes to get to an end result. It's a numbers game. A bigger agency will need more clients to help pay for the higher overhead and will have generally fewer creatives to deliver ideas and designs.

Amazingly it is shown that a small creative agency of six staff members can employ as many as five creatives whereas a larger agency of ten staff members can employ as little as four creatives. 

One of the largest benefits to clients is that of cost saving. Bigger agency = more overhead = larger invoice to the client for work. Smaller agencies are on the whole lean, responsive and cost effective. We certainly are.

Over the past 20 twenty years we've seen many design agencies come and go. More often those closing their doors are larger agencies. This of course isn't good for clients as they suffer sudden breakages in their projects since their agency literally isn't around anymore. All the great ideas and marketing plans created by working together are gone along with any artworks that may need for future creative work. It's genuine nightmare and we've listened to horror stories told to us by clients who have found themselves in that exact situation. There's nothing more frustrating in having to pay someone to re-create a brochure design from scratch as the previous agency has gone bust and taken their artworks and copyrights with them.

These are just a few examples that have been behind our solid foundation strategy to always be a smaller creative agency that not only talks directly, honestly and openly but can deliver the highest levels of quality that our clients will enjoy as part of our long-term relationships.

If you are thinking of working with a design agency then think about going small. It's a very smart place to start.

Laban Brown Design is a creative design agency based in the Essex countryside. We serve clients across the whole UK and internationally.

We have been helping clients position themselves in their marketplaces, raise their profiles and achieve their commercial objectives with effective Corporate Identity design, Brand Identity design, Brochure design, Website and Digital design, Packaging design and design for Print since 1993.