Yellow wall being painted over with pink
Brand Strategy / 08.30.2019

Branding & marketing: when to use an agency vs. DIY

Every marketing team has its strengths and weaknesses. Maybe yours has demand generation down to a science, but struggles to maintain brand consistency. Or perhaps you have brilliant ideas about how to drive brand awareness, but nowhere near enough resources or bandwidth to get it all done. Working with an agency, a freelancer or contractor can help give you a leg up on many different types of projects—but with budgets and timelines always of concern, how do you know when it’s the right time to outsource versus DIY?

Think about it this way: your brand is like a house. No matter how old or new, it’s a structure that’s bound to require upkeep over time. Maybe the front door needs a new paint job, there are a few lightbulbs that need to be replaced, or a faucet is leaking. Many of these are problems you can fix on your own. But bigger projects—rewiring the electric, building an addition, or replacing the floors—almost always require a bigger investment and professional expertise. Skimping on these repairs or attempting to DIY without the right expertise or tools can result in massive consequences, including rework and higher long-term costs.   

During our 40 years in business, here are some of the key situations where we’ve found it best to work with an agency instead of executing a project in-house:

When you need an objective opinion. Need a pair of fresh eyes? Agencies look at your company through a neutral lens, without any of the historical bias or office politics that often impact internal decision-making. This is particularly important during a rebrand, during which we’ll conduct extensive research about your company through internal/external surveys, first-party data, and reviews of your competitive landscape. Often, agencies have access to digital research and analysis tools that are often too expensive for most in-house teams to justify, yielding larger sample sizes and more meaningful conclusions. A partner that can help you take a step back and ask the hard questions will ensure you address any weak spots within your brand and market only your best, most distinctive assets.

When a project requires seasoned or specialized talent. Whether it’s navigating your first merger/acquisition or adding a new technology to the mix, bringing in a team that’s been through the process many times before can ensure better, more predictable outcomes. Your typical staffing needs may not warrant a logo designer or brand strategist, but creative agencies often bring both specialized skills and a depth of experience to the table that means faster turnaround times and better results. Working with an agency means you get access to exceptional talent without having to navigate the competitive labor market or pay a premium to employ them full time.

When you don’t have bandwidth to execute a major project. Your marketing train can’t grind to a halt just because a major initiative like a rebrand or a website redesign is in progress. Outsourcing special projects to an agency ensures your team can continue to manage its existing workload without too much disruption. That said, managing an agency can require a lot of work and coordination on your part. The right partner will take the time to understand your team’s existing workflow, consider budget and resource constraints, and develop an actionable roadmap that extends beyond the signed work order.

When you’re in a creative rut. When you’re consumed by supporting various stakeholder needs and meeting internal deadlines on a daily basis, it can be difficult to think outside the box. Infusing fresh new thinking into a brand’s identity or coming up with the next big idea for an impactful campaign requires taking risks, experimenting and having broader visibility into what will capture your audience’s attention. Because agencies typically have experience across a diverse range of clients and industries, they often bring new and bold ideas that can differentiate your products and cut through the noise.

When you’ve got big, hairy, audacious goals…but aren’t yet sure how to achieve them. A full-service agency partner is accountable for more than just big ideas and beautiful creative. Once they’ve helped you translate your high-level vision and business goals into measurable marketing objectives, a true partner will help you build and implement a plan that generates tangible results. 

If you’re facing any of the challenges above, consider reaching out to an agency like Grafik to see how we can support your needs.


Related Articles

Rethinking your donor engagement strategy? Start here.
As summer comes to a close, we’ve rounded up the hottest nonprofit sector stories, data, and trends to help take your fall fundraising efforts to new heights. 1. Not just for retail: The surge in…
Read More
How Nonprofits Can Beat the “Summer Slump”
While many nonprofits struggle to engage donors during the summer months, it’s a great time to take stock in your organization’s communications strategy and start charting a course for the months ahead. Here are a…
Read More
Three ways to optimize your holiday giving campaign
With one week to go until Giving Tuesday, nonprofit marketers are gearing up to drive millions of dollars in donations from U.S. consumers. Fundraising platform Classy reports that since 2012, “awareness of the day has…
Read More
Are you rebrand ready?
There are many different reasons to consider a rebrand. The most common involve a shift in operational conditions such as a recent merger, acquisition, product launch, or entry into a new market. But a rebrand…
Read More