The world of creatives can be a confusing place. You may have found that companies, who tend to offer similar creative services, all like to call themselves something different. It comes with the territory. Our role is to create something different for our customers. So, by definition we strive to find new and interesting ways to differentiate ourselves.
From brand agency to digital designers, graphic specialists to design consultants, when looking for creatives there truly is a plethora of possibilities.
So allow me to shed some light on this complicated world:
Creative Agency. An organisation which offers any variety of ‘creative’ services. Not simply limited to design, these agencies will probably offer a number of ways to help your business utilise creative thinking to generate increased sales. These may include: market research, insight generation, strategy workshops, communications planning, and brand implementation across multiple media. Creative agencies don’t like to be pigeon-holed! They are most likely paid for a defined programme of work.
Advertising Agency. One of the more obvious of the group, advertising agencies pretty much do what it says on the tin. That is, they provide a range of creative approaches to make your brand famous through TV, billboard, print, event, digital and social media. The key here is that advertising agencies are campaign focused and look to achieve maximum impact within a specific time period so they are looking for pretty large budgets to play with. Ad agencies often receive a percentage of the total media spend as part of a retainer contract.
Marketing Agency. These organisation may seem clear cut, but in actual fact the world of marketing is a complicated beast in itself. Usually these agencies are geared towards driving lead generation and sales by making effective use of a series of tools including social media, email, web, print and sometimes events. Marketing agencies are more likely to be tactically focused and may or may not have in-house design teams.
PR Agency. Often confused with other agencies, PR agencies focus on delivering publicity for businesses and their products, services or events. Their aim is to get the right people talking about you in the media and on social media channels. They see themselves as managing client’s reputation and many are kept on retainer to deal with any negative PR disasters. Usually paid by way of a retainer, PR agencies measure outputs such as number of mentions, but don’t always measure value generated. It’s hard to directly link the two.
Digital Agency. These guys handle everything online. Whether it be building a website, social media, apps or online strategy, these guys are the experts when it comes to the internet and its relationship with your customers and operations. Some can be very tactical, the best are highly strategic in approach and will show you how to reshape your whole business to compete in an online environment. Generally paid through a combination of project and retainer fees.
Design Agency. These agencies will be focused on delivering a range of design solutions for businesses. From logo creation to the production of print materials and digital tools, these guys won’t delve much deeper into a brand than the look and feel, but are most likely to deliver great looking marketing communications materials. They’re the perfect choice if you already know what you are looking for.
Branding Agency. Another generic name chosen by organisations which offer a wide range of services aimed at developing aspects of ‘Brand’. Brand agencies are the most likely of the bunch to offer an end to end program of work to reinvigorate an existing brand or create a completely new one: from speaking to key stakeholders and developing strategy through to creating a new brand identity system and launching it internally and externally. Brand agencies tend to get appointed to do a defined project in clear stages over a fixed time period for set project fees. The direction they set is then often used to brief other agencies involved in digital, advertising, PR etc.
A perfect fit?
Of course not every creatively driven company out there will fit perfectly under one of the 7 options above. Some may incorporate aspects of all of them. Some may have come up with completely unique ways to describe themselves all together. In addition to the 7 types above, there’s a wide variety of specialists helping you develop aspects of your brand. SEO experts, social media gurus, print specialists, videographers… the list goes on.
Whatever your business challenge, hopefully this explanation of just some of the different agencies will help you find the one for you.