4 Ways to Elevate In-House Creative Agencies | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

4 Ways to Elevate In-House Creative Agencies


The world of in-house creative agencies is witnessing a paradigm shift, one that calls for a transition from tactical efficiency to transformational creativity. As a seasoned strategist and consultant in this dynamic space, I've identified four imperatives that distinguish the best in-house agencies: identity, structure, process, and positioning. Let's unpack these elements to understand how they can revolutionize your agency.

The Four Imperatives

1. Identity: The Cornerstone of Distinction
The journey begins with identity and being known for at least One Big Thing. It's about focusing on what makes your agency uniquely competent. This could range from being a creative genius that can solve any marketing challenge to the maestros of display advertising and paid media. Know who you are and what makes you great. Identifying and owning this distinct aspect ensures that your agency isn't just another option for internal marketers, but the preferred choice for creative solutions.

2. Process: Blueprint for Creative Prioritization and Efficiency
The second imperative, process, focuses on the mechanisms of creative operations that drive your agency. The questions to ponder are: How streamlined are your operations? Do your processes empower creativity or stifle it? Remember, the difference between good and great often lies in how efficiently you manage the workflow, ensuring the best of your team's creativity is channeled where it matters most. A great idea can only take flight if the process behind it is efficient, agile, and conducive to the time required for creative thinking. It's very difficult to transform into the most valuable creative partner to your internal customers when you're buried under mountains of urgent yet not strategic work. It's about striking a balance between methodical precision, cranking out assets and creative freedom.

3. Structure: Composing the Symphony
Structure is where we examine the composition of our teams. Does your team reflect your agency's core identity? Are you equipped with the right mix of skills, talent, and external partners to bring your unique value proposition to life? It's not just about having talent; it's about having the right talent. Align your team's capabilities with your agency's core identity. This alignment is crucial for delivering on your promise of delivering an agency experience to your internal clients.

4. Positioning: The Art of Perception
Positioning is about how your agency is perceived internally and externally. It goes beyond knowing your strengths to living them in every facet of your operation. From the way your team interacts with clients to how you present your work, every element should reinforce your agency's identity and the unique value it brings.

The Transformational Pathway

The path to becoming a world-class in-house agency involves more than just excelling in these areas; it's about embodying them in your agency's DNA and then capturing the data and measurements to validate the transformation. It's a holistic approach where each element complements and enhances the others, creating a synergy that elevates your agency from being just another creative team to a powerhouse of innovation, scale, and creativity.

The Path Forward

Transitioning from a tactical service provider to a transformational creative powerhouse is an ambitious but achievable goal. By focusing on the four imperatives of identity, process, structure, and positioning, your in-house agency can not only meet the evolving demands of your marketing stakeholders but also set new benchmarks for excellence and innovation.

Corey O'Brien is VP at Aquent Studios, and leads strategy, solution design, as well as all go-to-market efforts, leveraging over 18 years of experience to guide in-house agencies through transformative journeys.

The views and opinions expressed in Industry Insights are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.