BLOG

For years, big brands have hankered after big creative agencies to reflect their stature in the marketplace – only to find they are top-heavy with processes, people and systems. But there is a move towards the smaller, boutique creative agency that can work more closely with you to achieve the goals you want to achieve – at a fraction of the price. We look at the advantages of working with small creative agencies, and how they’re challenging the big boys.

Boutique creative agencies are flexible

Big agencies are like kingdoms, with rulers, serfs, merchants and vendors; they have built structures and reporting models that look impressive but root the company in process and routine. And while clients often find they have to adapt to the methodology of large agencies, small agencies are more likely to adapt to the way and the speed that they work. A boutique creative agency is your flexible friend; they are likely to offer a tailored, bespoke service, they’re able to move swiftly, and they’re more hungry to do better as they’re not resting on a big reputation. They work alongside you to deliver the very best for your brand.

In a boutique agency, people work together

Large agencies are driven by hierarchy and separation, with a strong pecking order of directors, associate directors and executives who are all clawing for more power or recognition. I’ve sat in on meetings at big agencies with 20 people or more; many don’t speak up as they feel intimidated by the numbers – and that cramps creativity.

Small agency employees tend to work more effectively together, sharing skills and ideas from all levels. It means that more experienced creatives will give guidance to junior staff – or help develop that great idea. It also means that staff will cross disciplines and think laterally – often coming up with more creative work. I’ve seen it time and again when a great idea comes from the least expected person. In bigger agencies, the idea just doesn’t surface.

It’s more direct to work with a small agency

Big agencies have layers of account handlers, strategists, executives, analytics, creatives and directors – dozens of people who are involved at different stages in your project, and whose faces change with each meeting you have. It often leads to a lack of consistency or even a factory conveyor belt approach to creative work.

In a boutique creative agency, you’re more likely to speak to the people who work on your creative, rather than an account handler who oversees it. It means they hear your voice and your opinions, instead of third-hand interpretations, and can more readily translate your vision into words and images – or packaging, products or experiences. Time and again in the small agencies I’ve worked in do clients become incredibly involved in the work and are really instrumental in helping develop ideas that work for their brands.

Small agencies are more streamlined

If your agency employs an impressive 1,000 people, remember that it doesn’t mean they’ll all be working on your account! Maybe there will be a team of 15 dedicated people involved, but they obviously come with all the huge overheads of a big agency. In a small agency of 10 or 15 people, you’ll find a higher proportion working on any single job at one time, meaning that you get a similar sized team working for you but with a lower price tag.

A boutique creative agency can save you money

Boutique creative agencies bring in expertise from outside as and when its needed to craft bespoke teams for a specific project, whether web developers, writers or strategists – and that means that you pay for only the people used on your job. Their larger cousins are awash with teams of people who perform different functions, as well as support staff and large offices, swanky caterers and great expense accounts. Clients love all this, but it can hinder swift decision making and add big bucks to the tally sheet – which they forget that they end up paying.

Thinking about what you want from an agency? Try looking beyond the perceived prestige of a large agency – and weigh up the flexibility and economic efficiency of a boutique creative agency. Thinking small can make a big difference.

At SO, we put together a carefully chosen dedicated team for each job. You always speak to the people who are working on your creative. And you always get the most out of your budget. Call SO on 020 3031 9000 to discuss how we can bring some boutique creative agency magic to your business.