Agency vs. Freelancer – What’s Best?

Agency or Freelancer – What’s Best?

By Kimberly Hansen & Lisa Trachtman – August 8, 2018

You may think an agency is an excessive expense when it comes to outsourcing your brand’s creative needs. Hiring a freelancer is quick, easy and seems to be a cost saver. But there may be overlooked considerations that could make a significant impact on your decision, and negatively affect your goals, results and objectives.

Here are some key differences between these two choices that can help you consider your needs to make the best decision for your company.

Freelancers are talented individuals

Freelancers are often the choice for small projects to meet an immediate, targeted need, for example to create a logo or brochure or illustration. These talented individuals tend to either be experts in a niche specialty, or general jack-of-all-trades, and you benefit from working directly with the artist so communication is streamlined. Costs can sometimes be smaller and project-based as the scope of the work is usually limited. Generally, independent artists will offer quick turnaround times.

But consider this…

When dealing with freelancers, sometimes their availability can be inconsistent, as they may have multiple projects competing for their time, or may even be unavailable when you need them. Their area of expertise may be limited, so if your project grows in scope, they may not have the skills to satisfactorily complete the expanded requirements. Illness or emergencies could be a setback to your project timeline. Working as an individual, they have less support to assist them if needed or to add value or improve your project’s outcome.

As occasional workers, freelancers tend be less familiar with your brand and your existing graphic identity, so their work will need careful direction to help ensure what they create follows your brand standards. Many companies suffer when work is done by many disparate individuals not sharing a united corporate vision and look, thereby fragmenting your brand identity. Working with multiple freelancers requires a very strong brand strategy and oversight to assure consistent and coherent outcomes. Often, busy or less experienced staff struggle to handle these graphic variances well. While individual designs may look nice on their own, when viewing all your corporate pieces together, are they telling the same brand story? Beware of letting your company’s once-cohesive brand become a conglomeration of loosely related designs, simply tied together with colors and logos and elements.

The advantages of an agency

Agencies come in all sizes to meet both your small project and larger scale branding design and creative strategy needs. The benefits of working with an agency is you get the benefit of a team, each member with his own skill-set. Together they can contribute broader practical experience, and whose collaboration offers an extra layer of thinking and oversight.

We often forget that time is money. What you may save in cost with a freelancer will also require more of your precious time to manage. With an agency, you benefit when projects are more complex and require multiple specialties. Agencies have multiple people on staff to ensure help is available when needed. You also benefit from an appointed project manager to make sure the job is done accurately, on time and within your budget. If you are busy and need to be less hands-on, an agency can serve you well.

Another benefit of an agency relationship is that they can become an extension of your marketing department through an in-depth familiarity with your brand standards, your products and services, industry and your family of both digital and traditional marketing collaterals. This familiarity negates the need to constantly educate a rotating door of individual freelancers, and can mean fewer mistakes and quicker project communication. Agencies understand your brand framework and how to work within your guidelines, and even when to pop in a creative surprise or two for effect, all while remaining faithful to your consistent image and maintaining the mindshare within your market. Agencies are reliable, knowledgeable partners that can relieve some of your stress. Working with an agency long-term doesn’t have to get old or stagnant. With strong communication among your team members, collaborative efforts reap some of the biggest rewards for all involved.

How ready are you?

Before deciding between a freelancer and an agency, it is best to consider the larger corporate picture – your state of organization and materials, how much time you have to manage the project, the condition of your brand standards, as well as your budget. Cost savings alone often overlook the value of these other services and the impact it has on your brand. Considering these needs now will help you make the best choice, and hopefully reap the results you want!

Strata-Media’s success is driven by their vision to increase business net worth, stock valuation and Brand ROI. From conception to execution they are an extension of their client’s marketing department. They hold themselves accountable to the goals established marketing teams worldwide. Call us today and learn how Strata can contribute immediate value to your organization.


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