Contrary to popular belief, bigger isn’t always better. Nowadays, brands are opting to partner with smaller creative agencies. Why is this? Surely big agencies are the smarter choice? They have more resources and glittering portfolios packed with case studies from household names.
Well, it’s down to…
- Real relationships
- Agility and flexibility
Brands are starting to realise prestige isn’t everything.
They’re no longer blinded by awards or accolades. Instead, they’re seeking humanity, flexibility and commitment – attributes that run in a small agency’s blood.
The following blog explores this shift and delves into why big businesses are scaling down.
(TRIGGER WARNING: The following post might be bias – reader discretion is advised).
Clients crave a personal relationship with their agency partners.
They want to know:
- Who’s responsible for their project?
- Does the agency care about its success?
- Will there be someone to help if there are any hiccups along the way?
Big agencies can’t always provide answers to these questions.
With more employees, work is divided between departments. A single campaign can’t take priority because there are too many others running simultaneously. Plus, with so much going on, there’s no guarantee someone will be available to provide support at short notice.
Small agencies make up for this lack of intimacy.
Designers, Developers and Directors aren’t faceless entities – they’re accessible and fully engaged with the process from start to finish.
Instead of going through a Project Manager, clients speak directly with the creatives (we know, what an honour). It means ideas can be articulated precisely without being misinterpreted by middle-men.
Overall, the process is more streamlined and stress-free.
It’s true what they say – too many cooks spoil the broth.
When large teams split a project, its importance is diluted.
For work to be excellent, someone must own it, nurture it and feel personally responsible for its success.
This is more likely to happen in a small team where employees are used to having more autonomy over their work. Rather than answering to their superiors, they work directly for the client.
This increased sense of duty and level of accountability makes small agencies work harder (we warned you we were biased).
Large agencies can sacrifice individual talent because they have plenty of designers, writers and developers to make up for skill shortages.
Although there’s strength in numbers, this reliance on others means employees have fewer opportunities to develop professionally. It becomes less necessary for them to step outside their comfort zone because they can pass work over to someone more experienced.
This can lead to stagnation. Employees might feel there’s little point in expanding their knowledge – it’s all too easy for them to sit back and settle with the status-quo.
While there is a risk people at larger agencies will melt into the background, those at small agencies MUST stand out.
With fewer team members, a person’s contribution matters ten times as much.
Individuals become the account handler, creative and accountant – as a result, they’re required to be particularly multidimensional, innovative and resilient.
Agility and flexibility
Big agencies suffer from a sickness called bureaucracy. Which, unfortunately, is the enemy of creativity.
To get a project approved, clients find themselves jumping through hoops (flaming, never-ending, very high up hoops). The smallest campaign or design change might take weeks to complete at an additional cost.
When this happens, clients are left in despair over pushed-back deadlines and dwindling budgets.
Brands should thank their lucky stars for small agencies. Without the pain of box-ticking, they work faster and smarter.
They aren’t answerable to an antiquated system – instead, they’re free to experiment with new approaches and find a method of working that suits the client best.
Bye-bye red tape – hello revolutionary thinking.
Small agencies aren’t cheap – to think they are would be to devalue their work.
However, they usually charge less for the simple reasons they have limited staff, more modest premises and fewer outgoings.
Big agencies charge more because they spend more.
Arguably, you’re paying for the “privilege” of working with them, not necessarily for better quality work.
At Rubber Cheese, we believe great things come in small packages.
Why wouldn’t we? We’re living proof small agencies work and have completed projects for esteemed brands including Plymouth Gin, Eureka! The National Children’s Museum, Malt Whisky Distilleries and Jo Jingles.