How to Build a Successful In-House Creative Team?


Have you ever heard about such a thing as an in-house creative team? I bet you have – they are some sort of a trend nowadays among many companies. Why are they becoming more and more widespread?


Let’s be honest here, nowadays it is very hard to grasp people’s attention, surprise them, intrigue them, or make them excited about something. I mean, not that it has ever been an easy task, but technical wonders of 21st century increased the flow of information through our brains to such an extent that our focus started dispensing. Even when we find something potentially interesting, chances are it will just dash through our brains like the wind.


Found an interesting article?


I see you are checking some fresh statistics on a relevant topic?


Added a potentially cool video podcast on YouTube to your “watch later” list?


All this information will quite often be put into the farthest shelf in our attic-like brain or even accidentally thrown out of the window. Why?

Because an article doesn't contain images, statisctics are formatted as a text without any graphics, and the only visuals in the video is a plain black screen with title written in Arial or Times New Roman font


Every time a company manages to focus your attention on their content for a few moments and give it some thinking, it wins. But the reality of marketing in 2019 forces everyone to come up with creative solutions constantly if they want to catch up with their competitors. We are living in the age of visual and digital culture. Every business, organization, blogger, or whoever the content maker might be, wants your attention literally all the time. Here are some statistics according to Content.ly:

The use of visual content in marketing by companies in 2019

This is, basically, the reason why the value of creativity is on the biggest rise it has ever been. There is a demand for it on the market – it is as simple as that.

“How to fulfil the demand?” – that is the question now. Some people hire freelancers or outsource agencies, but many prefer a more stable solution. That is why effective in-house creative teams are becoming more and more common thing within numerous companies no matter what size they are.

Why in-house creative teams are important

First of all, who are these and what do they do? Well, it is rather hard to give one succinct definition. Functions may differ, but the common purpose of such teams is to provide an effective company marketing strategy for years to come using whatever methods at their disposal. They may be targeted specifically on, say, design or have a wider range of functions and manage simultaneously text, video, and audio content altogether.

But you will ask: “is it worth it? How do I know having such a team will pay off? I mean, it will cost us a pretty penny, and our start-up might not be able to afford it…”

Let’s wrack our mighty brains to find an answer.

  • Creating content takes time. Many companies operate the policy “well, someone will post something to our blog in the process”, and this strategy is doomed beforehand. Usually, no one really has time for that because all collaborators have their own things to do. Even assigning it to someone specific as a secondary task will not pay off because it will not be given much attention.
  • Furthermore, it takes skill. Writing articles and filling them with funny pictures that will stay in your mind might take more than researching the Internet and copy-pasting. If you are striving for original content, you have to be original, and it is not as easy as it may seem and requires some proficiency.
  • It should be done regularly. It’s not that I am so willing to bore you with one more reminder of how important it is to give something new to your target audience, but this bullet had to make it to this list.

What is better: in-house creative team or outside agency?

Well-well, we have at least three alert indicators that yell: “Achtung, content should be made by a separate team!” But is it that necessary to have in-house creatives? Why can’t you just hire someone outside your company and be done with it? Truth to tell, each variant has its own benefits and drawbacks. We’ll discuss them below, making our arguments, but will leave the conclusion to you.

  • In-house creative team will be more involved. When you work with outsiders, be prepared that you are not the only project they have, and they will not give you 100% of the love and attention you deserve. You might be the first client for them, but they definitely do not want you to be the last; they will be working with you through some more or less established template with 10-degree deviations depending on your current market situation and sphere. Your in-house team, on the other hand, will be committed to your company and your strategy, which means they will put in all possible effort to create something unique. They will care more, especially if you nurture effective teambuilding strategies and ideology.
  • Outside agencies are usually cheaper. It depends on the quality of service and reputation, of course. If we look for professionals of an arguably similar level, outsource or freelancers will be cheaper – the level of commitment, along with taxes, are the main reasons.
  • In-house team will know better what you need. If you settle a team that will work on your company marketing from the very beginning of your start-up, they will be able to develop clearer strategies. They will know what exactly you need, what you have already tried, what works better for the audience, what your competitors do. In the case of outsourcing, they will have to study everything from scratch, and this “let’s get to know each other better!” thing will occur every time you change collaborators. Furthermore, frequent change of contributors might result in inconsistency as everyone has their own vision.

Build an in-house creative team

So, if we decided to focus on starting an in-house creative department, what should our steps be? For it is not something you can do with a snap of fingers, and much depends on your ATTITUDE and DECISIONS.

Focus on what you want to achieve

A goal without a plan is just a wish

As a manager, you should settle certain goals and vision together with your team. Spend a meeting, or two, or three, and discuss some basic strategies and aims you want to reach. It is not enough to tell your creative to do “something that would bring us to the top”. The process of strategy development and discussion of its creative components might be a long one and requires a lot of patience. You have to know exactly what you are going to do. Create plans, sprints, schedules – whatever you need to organize your work and help your designers.

Use special software

Strategy development quite often demands some SaaS solutions because holding all the info on memos on your fridge doesn’t really work (mostly because we don’t have fridges that size). In terms of visual content, you will need to have something like Approval Studio to proof all the mockups and check what you need to fix to make a certain idea work. Such collaboration tools will help you boost your productivity, save tons of time, and, naturally, money.

Work with professionals

Some might say it is the most evident one, but when your budget is not so huge, you start thinking about hiring someone with less credibility. In such case, you should always consider how it will influence your project and whether your new creative execs will be able to pull up the workload you prepared for them. Your expectations should be clear – there is no such animal as “pay less, get more”. You might not afford to hire a top-notch seasoned professional, but looking for a person who will commit and do their best at least decently is a must.

Give your team as much creative freedom as you can

Color papers with idea lightbulb made of yellow one

Any PM who manages a small in-house creative team should treat them as equal contributors, not as mere subordinates. In reality, they have a lot of influence and are one of the main factors that shape your company image in the outer arena. With some time of dedication and consistent team building, they will produce more and more new ideas, and your task in such case is to support, supervise, correct them, but not to interfere too much. All key decisions should consider your in-house creative team opinions. They manage your brand and develop strategies, so it would be at least fair to give them the right to be heard.

Sharing is caring

Give access to your resources caption

And it is not only about a jar with home-made cookies that you made last Sunday and brought to the office as a treat (although, cookies are great, share cookies as well). Your in-house creatives must have access to all possible resources at your disposal. You have to understand that it is almost impossible to develop a successful marketing strategy that would not rely on any expenses. Purchasing ads, paying for project management software, arranging meetings, consultations, and seminars, providing a decent salary – all of it will take money. But with the right approach, the outcome might turn out great for you if you give it a little time and effort.

Final thoughts

Building your own in-house creative team is not a totally brand-new thing for most companies. With all the statistics indicating the massive increase in visual content production for business, such restructuring can hardly surprise anyone. People demand visual content, and in a rapidly changing marketing environment, this trend has been present for a pretty long time and is hardly going to fade. Infographics and cool imagery are much easier to comprehend and remember than plain boring texts that seem repetitive after the second paragraph already. Don’t be afraid to experiment, build your own in-house creative team, try something new, and remember – whenever you need a tool for visual asset proofing, we at Approval Studio are always ready to help you out!

Matthew Roberts

Matthew Roberts

A guy with wide spheres of interest — from project management to board games and to spicy guitar riffs. Has a solid experience in marketing, creative team management, translation, teaching, and occasional freelancing masochism. Big and bald.
Matthew Roberts

Matthew Roberts

A guy with wide spheres of interest — from project management to board games and to spicy guitar riffs. Has a solid experience in marketing, creative team management, translation, teaching, and occasional freelancing masochism. Big and bald.

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