Recently our London office hosted the fourth of our “Good to Great” series, which are designed to supercharge the creative people who run in-house teams.
Produced in association with Make Your Words Work, our “Tough Love” event focused on solving the internal challenges faced when you are an in-house design team. We had three amazing speakers from Clarks,FremantleMedia and Leon Restaurants each giving their expert advice to take your in-house team from Good to Great:
It is incredibly important as an in-house team to fight for the recognition you deserve, both internally and externally. A great way to do this is by entering (and hopefully winning) competitions or using PR to get coverage of your work in publications. This has the dual benefit of proving internally that you can compete against agencies, but also recognising and rewarding your hard-working team. Doing a creds presentation to your wider company is also a great way to raise your internal profile and get understanding for what you can do. It gives a way to showcase to different departments all the work you have done, which up to this point they may not have seen, and ultimately could get you more creative work.
One of the downsides to being an in-house team is that your client is always around, and it is all too easy to pop over for a quick look at how you’re doing. Without the Account Manager filter that agencies have, it can be hard to get some distance from a ‘back seat designer’, but this can be dealt with by pre-empting enquiries, providing clear timelines and communicating at what stages your client will be involved. As Steve Mcinerny, Senior Design Manager at FremantleMedia reminds us, there are also huge benefits to the client being at close quarters, as it means you get a really collaborative experience and the inside track on what a client is thinking, that agencies just don’t get.
A common struggle for in-house teams is often the competition with outside agencies. One way to convince the client that you aren’t just the fast and cheap option, is to offer to pitch alongside agencies for the most creative work. This proves your worth, but also keeps your team on their toes and prevents them from becoming complacent. Just like an agency it is important to present a professional image in yourselves and your work place (particularly as in an in-house team the client can pop by without any notice).
Review your Work
Nick Reeve, Group Head of Brand Creative at Clarks, has started a process for his team, where every quarter they display all their work on the wall. It gives them a chance to review and assess it, but also by leaving it up for several weeks, they can invite the rest of the company to come and view it. This is a great way to build up internal advocates.
Dealing with the Mundane
As well as creative work, it is inevitable that at some point your team will also get small, less glamorous and slightly more mundane tasks to do. A good way to deal with this is to make it a challenge: using it as a test to streamline your processes, or experimenting with some new tech. You can also try encouraging the idea internally that to ship out the dull work to an agency can often be much more cost-effective than sending out the very creative work, as the creative work is most expensive to outsource and thereby provides a cost-saving if done internally.
“The best way to produce amazing work as an in-house team is to embrace your brand and work with it”, Jo Ormiston, Head of Design at Leon Restaurants.
Thank you to all our in-house experts: Steve McInerny, Nick Reeve and Jo Ormiston for their great tips. If you have any other tips you’d like to share, then please do so in the comments.
Or if you’d like to attend our next in-house event in London, then please get in touch!