Updated on:
April 22, 2022

Bigger Isn't Always Better


So, you’re deciding on a creative agency... Your first thought is probably to go for a large agency with loads of national and multinational clients, right..? Well sure, you could do that. But before you take the plunge, you should consider all the factors. You may find that a smaller creative agency is a much better fit.

OK so, a small creative agency may not have multiple offices around the globe or a huge compliment of staff or have a huge portfolio of high profile clients for you to admire. But in reality, how important is all of that to you and your business. Small creative agencies can offer the same skills as their larger counterparts, but with the clear advantages that you don’t become a faceless client, and that you will likely find that your budget will go a lot further.

Here are some of the obvious benefits of closing a smaller agency:

Screwed up ball of yellow paper, with chalk drawing around it to simulate a lightbub (an idea)


Coming up with creative ideas is one thing, and a smaller agency will be just as capable of that as any of the larger ones. But what makes these creative ideas really effective comes from knowing the client’s business, which is achieved by understanding your needs and objectives, as well as your target market. Most smaller creative agencies will have a more hands-on approach. A more personal service where you deal directly with the actual person who is working on your creative concepts. This usually means a more in-depth understanding of your business and therefore a more completely tailored end result. Larger agencies will frequently work to a template that they apply to all their clients in a certain category and this can inhibit creativity, especially if you are not one of their larger clients who are of greater value to them.

You will also find that a smaller agency is more accepting of your processes and happier to work with you rather than just ‘for’ you, to create something that is effective and practical for both parties. As your relationship with your smaller agency develops, so too does their understanding of the intricacies of your business, which in turn helps to create a brand or campaign which differentiates your business from its competitors. 

If you want to set yourself aside from the rest then, you should definitely consider a smaller ‘boutique’ agency.


Man staring at a clock

One thing that is often critical for smaller businesses is speed and efficiency. Last-minute adverts and sudden changes to marketing plans happen to all businesses but the nature of any small business is that there are fewer hoops to jump through and therefore decisions get made more quickly. This is also true of a smaller agency. Fewer steps in the process, meaning your projects can be started and, more importantly, completed with as little fuss as possible. The larger the agency, the more processes and approvals are required. 

It is always assumed that a larger agency has more resources (staff) so it is able to provide you with a more efficient service. Oftentimes this is just not the case. The number of employees a company has grows through necessity. Each of them is needed and usually working pretty much to capacity due to the volume of clients serviced by them. Your ‘urgent’ job will need to be added to the queue just like it would with a smaller agency. The difference is the smaller creative agency can change gears and prioritise your job far more quickly because of its more efficient practices. 

Smaller agencies will generally value their clients more highly and do whatever they can to ensure you achieve your goals within the required timeframe.


An image from above of a group of people working together at a meeting table

I have touched on this in the previous sections, but working with a small agency is far more likely to put you in direct contact with the key decision-maker and also the lead creative for your job. In many cases they are the same person and this makes it all the easier to build a relationship. This direct contact helps to reduce the ‘Chinese whispers’ effect as your requirements don’t get filtered down through various levels of the team until they reach the creative working on your project.

Larger agencies are often on the 'quest for the household named client' which looks good on their corporate website but can mean your business may get neglected and is liable to disappear into the mass of companies that have similar requirements to yours. In contrast to this, with a smaller agency, you are likely to be one of a smaller portfolio of clients. You are a person with a face and a name and your business becomes part of the family of clients.

I have worked for clients in the past with whom I have developed such a strong working relationship that they have considered me part of their team. To the point where they have invited me to Christmas parties and even family weddings etc. This kind of connection won’t happen all the time, but it is far more likely to evolve when you are dealing with a more personable agency which tends to be true of a smaller creative agency.

When you have been able to cultivate a relationship with your creative agency you will find that they are as invested in your results as you are. You are far more than just an invoice to them, you are a valued client.


A piggy bank, alongside four stacks of coins, each getting higher to indicate growth

How much will it cost? Can I justify the expense..? If I do it myself it might save me loads of money…

It's a common belief that the more you spend on marketing and branding, the better the results. In truth, this is partly true, but that’s not the whole story. We can definitely spend that money more effectively. Certainly, the cost of an advert in a specific publication or the cost of printing a brochure is not going to differ greatly between a larger or smaller agency. They may even use the same suppliers. This is where the saying does hold true. Put simply, you are more likely to get a response, if you book more adverts thus increasing your overall spend. But, paying a larger agency many times more than a small agency would charge, for the same job won’t make any difference at all, except to your bank balance.

“A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.” Henry Ford

Logically, if you have more staff, expensive premises and greater running costs, in general, you will need to charge a higher fee just to break even. Smaller agencies don’t share these problems at anywhere near the same scale, and this helps keep the costs down.

On top of this, you may also find that larger agencies have pre-approved suppliers (such as printers) that they use for the bulk of their work. These suppliers may not be the best service or price for your specific project. 

If you run a large national or multi-national company and you want to completely rebrand your entire organisation then sure, a larger agency may be your number one choice. But for the majority of businesses you will find that your needs will be easily met and, for the most part, exceeded but a smaller agency.


In your search for the perfect creative agency, remember to consider your needs specifically.

What do you want from your agency? A quick logo design, advert or brochure? Or a complete brand? The answer may help make up your mind.

I’m not saying that larger agencies are bad, or have poor value for money. Many of them do outstanding work and their clients would happily tell you so. What I am saying is that they may not be the right fit for YOUR business. Smaller creative agencies are just as resourceful as larger ones and when you look at the end results you would be hard pushed to tell what size agency produced it. 

Remember, a small agency does not exclusively work with smaller clients. Even some larger agencies will outsource work to smaller creative agencies.

If you run a large national or multi-national company and you want to completely rebrand your entire organisation then sure, a larger agency may be your number one choice. But for the majority of businesses you will find that your needs will be easily met and, for the most part, exceeded but a smaller agency.


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