What Is a Creative Agency? Services and Benefits Explored

The success of advertising campaigns hinges a lot on how well creativity is incorporated. It doesn’t matter if you’re designing promotional material for an uninteresting product like dental floss or something more exciting like a new flavor of coffee beans. All services and products need creative content to stand out. 

From business cards to brand identities, if you look closely, you’ll identify many areas that can require some right-brain thinking. Traditional agencies remain a safe bet for strategies like email marketing and search engine optimization that rely heavily on analytics, rules, and algorithms. However, for those digital marketing campaigns like video ads that allow for a more creative approach, working with a creative agency can make more sense. 

Here’s a closer look at how a creative agency can serve you, along with examples of successful campaigns. 

What Is a Creative Agency? Services and Benefits Explored:

Defining a Creative Agency

Creative agencies’ focus areas typically include design, advertising, technology, and strategy. Using innovative strategies and a creative approach, they help businesses to meet their marketing goals and improve their advertising efforts. 

Their team typically includes:

  • Copywriters
  • An editor
  • Graphic designers
  • Website developers
  • Consultants
  • Strategists
  • Data visualization specialists
  • User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) designers
  • Video producers
  • Branding experts
  • Digital marketers
  • A creative director

Examples of challenges they can solve include:

  • Creating strategies for improving customer service
  • Developing campaigns to grow the market base
  • Integrating technological solutions to improve user experience 
  • Creating digital solutions like a client portal or branded mobile app 
  • Identifying opportunities to increase revenue
  • Producing ad campaigns

Like with other types of agencies, some choose to describe themselves as a full-service agency, in which case they’ll offer a wide range of services. Others prefer to concentrate on only branding services, for example.   

Types of Creative Agency Services 

Varieties of Services Offered By Creative Agencies

Creative agencies offer an array of services. Services typically provided include:

  • Consulting

Consulting services can focus on market research, product development, and cost reduction. You can, for example, hire their consulting expertise to identify a new product or market or assist with product development. 

Using data, they have the insight to craft strategies that can grow your business, whether that’s by breaking into a new market or bringing a new product to market.  

  • Design

No surprise here, creative agencies can help with design. And, it’s not only creative brands that need to invest in design. 

All brands need a business logo. That’s just one graphic design element that fits their scope. 

Perhaps you’re rebranding? Creative agencies will guide you through the steps involved in breathing new life into your current brand identity. 

Branding aside, there are also digital assets like marketing material and packaging that need graphic designers’ input. It’s essential that branding guidelines are implemented consistently across all touchpoints, something which calls for a trained eye. 

Don’t have branding guidelines yet? Even more reason to work with a creative agency.  

  • Advertising

From idea generation to market research all the way through to campaign execution, a creative agency can assist with all the steps involved in ad campaigns. If they don’t have their own in-house team to run it, they have a network of reliable production companies. 

Then, to ensure that your ad campaign achieves its effectiveness, they can also help with ad placements. 

  • Digital 

Some agencies also include IT assistance and can improve your current tech setup. Another way that they can help on the digital front is by creating innovative solutions like a mobile app or integrating augmented or virtual reality.  

Pros of Hiring a Creative Agency

Benefits of Engaging a Creative Agency

Hiring a creative agency isn’t always the best course of action for your business. However, they offer unique benefits like: 

  • A new take

While you’ll want to complete your ads in as few takes as possible, a new take on your current marketing efforts is always welcome. A creative team can give you a new perspective, helping you to uncover your immediate needs and identify opportunities. The best part — this fresh view is based on market research and (years of) experience. 

Armed with their insights, you can build upon your marketing strategy and possibly reach your goals faster than anticipated. 

  • Access to a network

Fresh perspectives are great. However, you’ll still need hands to implement those suggestions. 

Aside from the agency’s own in-house team, they also have connections that you can use to build brand partnerships. Production companies and dev teams are typically included in their established network. 

  • Design skills

As their name suggests, one of the main reasons why you would want to work with a creative agency over a digital marketing agency is for their creative expertise. Businesses need a visual identity. It needs to be unique and consistently implemented across all touchpoints for optimal brand recall. 

Creative agencies have a group of graphic designers experienced at crafting branding elements like business logos and suggesting color combos and typefaces. 

  • More cost-effective

According to Robot Creative’s CEO, Lara August, having your own in-house marketing team will cost you at least $250,000 per year. This will be for a small team that includes only three members — a marketing director, digital marketer, and graphic designer. 

If you need a more experienced, bigger team, it can cost you closer to $1 million.  

The software, tech, and stock art subscription that you’ll need are also included in this estimate. So, keep in mind that if you’re thinking about building an in-house marketing team, you’ll also need to have the tools they’ll need to complete the job, which can be costly. 

On the other hand, hiring an ad agency in the USA will cost you on average between $100 and $150. You also don’t have the added expense of signing up for yearly subscriptions and software licenses for tools that you’ll use infrequently. 

Real-life Examples of Projects

The best way to see what a creative agency is all about is to take a look at some of the work completed by leading agencies in this category. The following case studies will give you a much better idea of how consulting, design, advertising and digital services come together to deliver impactful campaigns. 

1. Sköna and Snowflake

Sköna, one of the top B2B branding agencies, has worked with Snowflake, a data cloud company, since 2016. Their team has helped Snowflake to build the brand that it is today. 

Over the course of seven years, they assisted with:

  • Website design and development
  • User conference branding
  • Targeted campaigns 
  • Initiatives

There were two main challenges that their agency was tasked with. One was to communicate Snowflake’s differentiators. The other focus area was to create a demand gen machine.

The nature of the project meant that Sköna had to get involved on a wide range of projects. As such, they became an extension of Snowflake’s marketing team, offering local support for different teams. 

Snowflake Marketing Project Example

Source: skona.com

2. ThreeSixtyEight and the Miami Dolphins

Rated as one of the leading creative agencies, ThreeSixtyEight partnered with the Miami Dolphins to create an integrated, multimedia experience. This project is a great example of how creative agencies can help with digital and leverage their network of connections.

ThreeSixtyEight collaborated with Luminary Design Co., a design/building firm that uses emerging tech to improve physical experiences. The result was a living mural that displays real-time player stats and custom content. It was placed strategically in the main entry space at the team’s new training facility so that both players and visitors could access the content.  

3. Wildish & Co. and Jamie Oliver

Penguin Random House, Jamie Oliver’s publisher since the chef’s “naked days”, collaborated with Wildish & Co. twice. For the most recent collaboration, they were asked to design a creative campaign to support the launch of his recipe book, One. This included creating:

  • A pre-launch campaign
  • A post-launch campaign
  • Weekly TV episodic cut-downs
  • Digital out-of-home (DOOH) ads
  • Retail activations
  • Upcoming holiday campaign socials

They leveraged their own team and the skills of food photographer Chloe Hardwick to create visual assets that captured relatable moments. Using a strategic messaging framework, the team could tweak the different messages to fit the audience, helping Penguin to reach new audiences. This time around, the book successfully targeted the lifestyle space too and attracted the attention of younger readers like students and young couples. 

4. Cohere and Valley Forge Coffee Reserve

Cohere is a boutique creative agency that works mainly with the hospitality industry. The work that their team completed for Valley Forge Coffee Reserve, a homegrown nitro coffee brand, shows the impact that something as simple as new packaging can have on branding. 

While the project focused on packaging design, they also delivered services like:

  • Consulting
  • Content creation
  • Web design and development 
  • Brand identity

With Cohere’s expertise, the coffee brand’s founding principles, like fair trade and small-batch processing, could be reflected by the new packaging. They also started an equitable partnership with the company to support their growth.  

5. Rule29 and UNICEF USA

Sometimes challenging times like a pandemic call for more creative solutions. UNICEF USA realized that they needed a new virtual solution to navigate the challenges that COVID-19 presented. 

Rule29, a creative agency and Certified B Corporation® with several offices across the USA, has worked with the non-profit on several of their big events which made them the logical choice for their first virtual event. 

The agency combined their design and digital services to create: 

  • HTML versions of print invites
  • Microsites where invitees could find information and reserve their “seat”
  • A pitch deck with specific event details

In addition to these design assets, Rule29 also worked with them to organize a one-night-only, virtual event. 

Then, to ensure the event was as visible as possible and generated excitement, their creative services included creating:

  • Social media memes
  • A variety of messaging
  • Online announcements

The result — more than $650,000 was raised. 

Rule29 and UNICEF USA

Source: rule29.com

Key Takeaways

Virtually any industry can benefit from hiring a creative agency. From creative fields like entertainment to more technical industries like healthcare use their services from time to time.

By outsourcing your needs to an agency, you’ll save money. What’s more, in addition to the deliverables, you’ll also gain a fresh perspective and new contacts. To stand out in the sea of digital content, you’ll need this unique perspective.   

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some of the best creative agencies in North America?

The USA and Canada are home to many great creative agencies and the following are rated as a few of the best ones:

  • Rule29
  • MiresBall
  • Lift Interactive
  • Epicosity
  • Naked Development
  • ThreeSixtyEight
  • GLOW

What should you look for in a creative agency?

Expertise, several long-term clients, and a diverse portfolio are three things that you should prioritize when searching for a creative agency. You want to partner with an agency that has a proven track record and that has a diverse portfolio with various unique projects. Browse through the portfolio and specifically look at how well they’ve tailored the strategies to fit different industries.   

Which types of business can hire a creative agency?

Businesses of all sizes across all industries can hire a creative agency. Basically, if you need help with branding, marketing, and/or ad campaigns and you don’t have enough money to employ an in-house team or need a new perspective, you can benefit. 

What’s the difference between a creative agency and a digital marketing agency?

You wouldn’t be wrong for thinking that a creative agency is pretty much the same as a digital marketing agency. Digital agencies typically focus more on strategies like SEO and social media marketing, while creative agencies concentrate more on design choices and creating the brand.

What can you expect when you work with a creative agency?

Creative agencies typically take a collaborative approach and will start by identifying a strategy for your business goals, along with a timeline and costs. Using design, branding, and messaging, their team will then work to bring this strategy to life. You’ll usually have an opportunity to share your feedback and possibly request changes before they share the final assets. 

About the Author
Koba Molenaar brings nearly a decade of rich experience in content writing, specializing in digital marketing, branding, SaaS, and eCommerce. Her passion for helping brands, from solopreneurs to established companies, connect with their audiences shines through her work. As a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society, Koba’s commitment to excellence is evident in her work, showcasing her as a relatable and knowledgeable voice in the industry.