It seemed fitting that my first blog post for Matter would be about the differences and similarities of working as a creative for companies in-house and as part of a firm. Over the last few years I’ve done a variety of work between the two and I’ve become accustomed to the day–to–day workings of each. To begin, I don’t want this post to be a head–to–head comparison because I think both bring unique perspectives into play that cater to specific needs of its clientele. However, I do believe each has its own strengths when it is looked at from a project to project basis. And yes, I know both are considered to be in-house, but I feel the differences are stark enough to put each in its own “in-house” category.
For myself, the largest “pros” for working with an in-house team are communication and the transparency in its internal workings. I would work alongside the marketing, creative, and content departments to develop and execute projects within the company. This meant that most of the time I would be physically interfacing with the people who would be directly involved in the projects on a daily basis. At any given moment I would be able to get live feedback about content from any of the involved departments. This allowed for a completely uniform experience that would be curated together as a unified effort from all who were involved. It’s much easier to create assets for projects such as advertising promos when you are able to see mock ups for graphics and copy as its being drafted in other areas. Knowing how a project travels through the process internally before final publishing makes it easier to predict what kind of feedback you’ll receive. This is pivotal in making sure that branding and overall message matches with the over arching theme of the content. Corporate in-house teams are optimal for the production of branded content, such as product spots that will need to be created many times over or editorial pieces that are reoccurring bits. Basically anything that needs to be replicated in bulk over a long period of time.
With a firm there are a lot of similarities to the operations of a corporate in-house team. The biggest difference is that firms or creative agencies allow for a fresh perspective on proposed ideas. Having a variety of clients can actually be a good source of inspiration no matter how different the companies may be in the firm’s portfolio. Not being stuck to just one company’s style guidelines can open up possibilities for how you look at other projects. The diversity of projects makes it easier for the team to visualize several options for how to proceed with a project. The outside perspective of a firm or agency can also allow for better communication because decisions are much more direct, as opposed to in–house teams getting constant direction from any point of influence in the company that sees a cut of the project. Too many chefs can indeed spoil the broth. Having defined stakeholders on a project gives creatives a source for what will inspire the final product, instead of editors feeling like there are far too many cooks in the kitchen. With that being said the type of content produced by a firm is much more pointed. Evergreen content is done incredibly well and really does stand the test of time whether it’s a commercial spot only running for a few days/weeks, or a project done for the web that needs to stay relevant for years to come. Lastly, it’s my personal opinion that firms are quick on their feet and know how to get a project done rapidly and professionally in a short period of time without letting deadlines stifle the creative direction.
With both having their strong suits I think they have their own unique places for application. And I’ve certainly had my fun between the two.