How many times have heard someone say, “Let’s just do it in-house”? For some companies, this is nearly a mantra. It’s just assumed that anything that can be kept in-house should be kept in-house; it saves money, protects valuable intellectual property, and gives team members something to work on when there’s nothing billable on their schedule. It’s just smart business !
Except that this conventional wisdom is frequently wrong, and never more so than when considering branding work. There are more factors at play besides direct cost, and when one steps back and looks at the proposed situation holistically, it can become evident that going out of house, while sometimes, but not always more expensive, delivers far more value for the investment. Ramotion, a top branding agency in San Francisco, understands better than most why an external branding agency is a better choice when it’s time to reexamine your brand.
Branding Agencies vs. In-House Teams
While cost isn’t the most important factor to consider, it’s usually the one people focus on. The math seems fairly simple. If you’re paying in-house staff less per hour than what it would cost per hour to use a branding agency then you’re saving money. But there are variables that are being ignored when you run the calculation this way.
In order to get a clear picture of what your in-house team is actually costing you, you need to consider opportunity costs. Every hour that an in-house team member spends working on internal branding projects is an hour that can’t be billed to a client. That person’s true hourly rate then, when working on internal projects, is their hourly salary and benefits, plus their billable hourly rate that you can no longer collect. These two figures, taken together, are frequently more expensive than what you would pay even top branding firms.
Of course, many in-house branding teams aren’t billable. They exist solely to support the company’s marketing and advertising initiatives. These employees have no external opportunity costs to consider. But they do face downtime.
It’s generally unrealistic to assume that you’ll have enough work to keep an internal marketing and branding team solidly occupied 40 hours a week, every week. You have to pay them whether they’re busy or not, and any time that you’re paying them to twiddle their thumbs has to be amortized out across every project they do. These unproductive hours drive up the real cost for productive ones. Depending on how frequently your internal teams aren’t busy, this added cost can be significant.
When these extra costs are considered, hiring a top branding company is often on par with your own internal costs, and the extra value you get from hiring an external branding agency tilts the value equation solidly away from internal resources.
Outside Agencies Bring a Fresh Perspective
Too often, internal teams get mired in the day-to-day of production. Flyers, email blasts, mailers, etc, all day, every day, for the same company, saying much of the same things. It can be hard for these teams to see outside of their standard talking points when asked to do something revolutionary, like completely rethinking their brand. Try as they might, they frequently fall back to old habits, or simply create new permutations of the same old thing.
Most of the best branding agencies in the world are in the business of shaking up the status quo. They aren’t limited by your “business as usual”. They have the necessary remove to look at your branding unemotionally, unhindered by the “this is how we do things here” mentality that can weigh down an internal team. Hiring an outside agency brings in new ideas and completely new ways of looking at your company. If your goal is to completely reimagine your brand, you’ll get far more of what you’re looking for from an external branding agency than from your own staff.
Top Branding Agencies Are More Efficient
When you hire an external agency, you get a team that’s devoted to your branding project. You get predictable schedules and specific deliverable deadlines. When you hire a branding agency, your branding work gets done, on-time, and at a level of quality commensurate with that company’s preexisting portfolio.
The same can’t be said for an internal team. Too often their focus gets pulled. They’re already busy keeping up with the day-to-day necessities of running their normal marketing responsibilities. Trying to find the time to fit in creating a new brand strategy can be difficult. If they manage to get it done, it will likely take much longer than necessary. Or, if they’re tasked with getting the work done quickly, the quality of the work is likely to suffer. And there’s always the strong possibility that the work will never get done.
A top brand agency isn’t worried about your day-to-day production responsibilities. Their time is spent entirely on creating a strong, new brand identity that accurately reflects the company you are and the company you want to be.
A Branding Agency Has Experience That Your Team May Not
Consider how frequently your team engages in complete brand overhauls, or in creating vastly new brand strategies. Once? Maybe twice in the history of your company? Now compare that to an external branding agency. These companies work on major brand overhauls all the time. They bring a depth of experience when it comes to high-level branding work that most internal teams simply can’t match.
It can be difficult to look at honestly, but you have to ask yourself, all things being equal, do you think you’ll get more value per dollar spent with an agency that’s done brand strategy work for hundreds of companies, across many business sectors, or your own team that, if it has done branding work recently at all, has only done it for you?
Branding Agencies Deliver on Their Promise
Internal teams are great resources to have for day-to-day production work. But when it comes to redefining your brand or making any sweeping branding changes, you get far more value hiring an external branding agency.
And isn’t that why you’re engaging in a rebranding effort? You’re trying to add value to your company. Don’t shortchange that effort. You only get the chance to freshen your brand every few years, if you’re lucky. When you do, spend the money necessary to add the most value possible. The extra investment will pay dividends far into the future.