Skip navigation

How to Make Your In-house Design Team Great


LAST UPDATED: June 26, 2023

In-house creative teams are misunderstood. Where agencies come across as exciting, agile, fresh places to work, in-house can wrongly be perceived as slow and uncreative. However, in-house is gaining massive momentum in the UK where just under half of brands now have, or are considering, an in-house capability.

Here are our tips on how you can solve the challenges faced when you are managing an in-house design team. And if you want some more hiring advice, check out our free ‘how to' guide on all you could ever want to know when looking to source, build and maintain your creative team.

Stopping Interference

One of the downsides to being an in-house team is that your client is always around, and it is all too easy to pop over for a quick look at how you're doing. Without the Account Manager filter that agencies have, it can be hard to get some distance from a ‘back seat designer', but this can be dealt with by pre-empting enquiries, providing clear timelines and communicating at what stages your client will be involved. There are also huge benefits to the client being at close quarters, as it means you get a really collaborative experience and the inside track on what a client is thinking, that agencies just don't get.

Getting Recognition

It is incredibly important as an in-house team to fight for the recognition you deserve, both internally and externally. A great way to do this is by entering competitions or using PR to get coverage of your work in publications. Doing a creds presentation to your wider company is also a great way to raise your internal profile and get understanding for what you can do. It gives you a way to showcase to different departments all the work you have done, which up to this point they may not have seen, and ultimately could get you more creative work. Remember, in an in-house team design is not the company's main business. Help others understand what you do, how you want to work and what you need.

Encouraging Competition

A common struggle for in-house teams is the competition with outside agencies. One way to convince the client that you aren't just the fast and cheap option, is to ask to pitch alongside agencies for the most creative work. This proves your worth, but also keeps your team on their toes and prevents them from becoming complacent. Just like an agency it is important to present a professional image in yourselves and your work place, particularly as in an in-house team the client can pop by without any notice. Don't be shy about collaborating with agencies, it can energise you as well as enhance what you and your team have to offer.

Owning Your Brand

As an in-house design team, your brand is your most important project. It should inform everything you do. So, it's important to own it and be seen as the authority on that brand within the business. This should go beyond simply creating brand guidelines and defining strategy, to actively controlling what is produced and distributed externally. Build and maintain agency relationships so that they are always up to date with your current brand values.

Dealing With The Mundane

As well as creative work, it is inevitable that at some point your team will also get small, less glamorous and slightly more mundane tasks to do. A good way to deal with this is to make it a challenge, using it as a test to streamline your processes or experiment with some new tech. You can also try encouraging the idea internally that to ship out the dull work to an agency can often be much more cost-effective than sending out the very creative work, as the creative work is most expensive to outsource and thereby provides a cost-saving if done internally.

Fancy seeing some amazing work from some of the best in-house design teams in the country and getting the chance to pick their brains? Join us at The In-house Design Awards 2018 next month. They are the only UK awards that celebrate the greatness of in-house teams and we're proud to be sponsoring again this year. RSVP now to confirm your place!