It is safe to say that things have been changing quite rapidly for those who work within design or creative agencies. No matter where you are in the world, there is no doubt that the competition between agencies has been steadily increasing and that the industry has diverged from its traditional business models, all due to the advancement of technology and prominence of digital channels in today’s society.
The growth within this industry is not slowing down anytime soon and more changes are definitely coming in the future. But what could these changes possibly be, and how will this affect the way that these agencies run?
In this article, we’ll be reimagining what the design agency of the future could look like. While we will first be covering how agencies have changed within recent years, we will then also discuss the direction that these agencies could potentially head towards. In case you are interested in working in either a design or creative agency in the future, we hope that this article could be of great value to you!
How have agencies changed over time?
So, the first question we must ask is how have agencies actually changed over time?
To begin with, modern agencies are nothing like how they once were, let’s say about 10 years ago. Back then, there were only a few large agencies that were operating at the time, which meant that there was also way less competition. This allowed creative agencies to be demanding and have immense control over clients. Clients ultimately complied with the visions and creative decisions of agencies rather than truly going through with what they truly desired.
Today, the business has become so much more diverse and versatile, with agencies that specialize in different areas. Agencies no longer have that kind of ego and are understanding that clients are just as knowledgeable, educated and skillful as they are. Instead of being the ‘dictator’ within the relationship, agencies now act as great collaborators to their clients.
In fact, the roles are rather in reverse. Whereas agencies used to be the boss, they now act as clients towards brands. Their main focus lies on providing clients with the best experience and results rather than it being all about what they wanted as an agency.
To become a successful agency in this day and age, whether it is a design or advertising agency, it is important that friendly yet valuable relationships are formed with clients. Instead of seeing the agency’s and the client’s world as being separate, agencies must immerse themselves into their client’s world, see things and try to understand things from their perspective as well.
What does the agency of the future look like?
With so many changes that have already taken place, what does this mean for the future of agencies? What would working in an agency be like, and what kind of skills will be needed in such an ever growing business?
As mentioned earlier, companies (a.k.a the clients) are not any less knowledgeable or skilled compared to agencies. Many of them have established in-house teams with members who are equally as talented in consultancy, marketing, and branding. Now, you may be wondering, if companies were to have similar strengths, how can agencies beneficial to them?
Well essentially, compared to these companies, agencies have way more experience with marketing and branding. They’ve worked with so many clients and have dealt with a variety of issues that needed to be solved. Agencies have a well-rounded 360-degree view of the industry, and this is exactly where they can become such a great investment for brands.
While brands are used to having to put the focus on themselves, agencies are able to provide an outsider view that is extremely valuable. They have a unique pool of talents with diverse perspectives that can come together to solve all sorts of problems companies face. Therefore, once an agency is able to efficiently collaborate along with a company’s in-house team, the partnership between the two can become incredibly powerful.
Today, the problems that agencies are being asked to solve are becoming more and more complex. With the growth of digital channels and especially so with social media, it is crucial that agencies keep up with the pace of today’s marketing and branding strategies and highly competitive business landscape. Agencies can no longer rely on conventional methodologies and are encouraged to break out of routine work. Hence, future agencies will become more flexible, smarter, and focused than ever before.
Although problem-solving skills will always be needed, agencies will also need to bring greater creativity skills to the table. Mundane routine work will likely no longer be part of the job since it has been predicted that by 2025, AI will take over all of the boring tasks. This will enable team members to truly focus on the creative tasks, which is the most important part of an agency.
At the end of the day, their job is to help build brands that people will want to buy from, work for, and talk about. In order to do this, they much challenge preconceived notions and try to do things in an unconventional way. This will be a way for brands to stand out to the younger generations whose consciousness and expectations of companies have only gotten higher over the years.
Being a great agency involves the ability to develop bigger ideas, create new product categories, markets, and revenue models for companies. At the same time, it also involves being open-minded and transparent, which is what visibility is all about.
To create something that people of this generation will actually resonate with, those who work within an agency will need to have a hunger for curiosity. They need to challenge themselves, and to do this, they need to be open to listening to other ideas apart from their own. The sharing of diverse opinions and the freedom to provide feedback to one another, will be key to the collaboration between team members.
To fully be transparent, it is important that agencies are discussing ideas out in the open within their workplace. Agencies should allow people to participate in decision-making as well as initiate strategies whenever they can. Afterall, inclusiveness and the freedom to express opinions and give feedback is what leads to the best brand ideas and strategies. If you study all the most creative and innovative companies in the world today, you’ll notice that an inclusive and collaborative working culture is what fosters most of these organizations’ success.
It is likely that agencies in the future will be way more visible than how they are now, especially since this is also how the younger generations prefer to work. Of course, there will be times when someone will have less credibility or experience in a certain area. Therefore, to ensure positive results as well as client satisfaction, agencies need to make sure that they are hiring the top talents for each specific role in the first place.
A Mobile Office
Now that many of agencies’ work processes are mainly based of online team efforts, the future of agencies could potentially become even more digitally-oriented. With many other online platforms allowing for a more inclusive and collaborative means of communication between all the teams and each of its members, you could say that emails will eventually become a form of communication of the past.
Moreover, it can also be questioned whether or not offices will still be needed. The large number of collaborative spaces and networks online as well as the accessibility of asset libraries will likely lessen the importance of a physical workplace for everyone. Ultimately, work surroundings will be individualized and dependent on the tasks needed to be completed at hand.
People across a variety of industries are becoming digital nomads. Therefore, whether it is a co-working space, working from home or at a cafe, there will be much more freedom in terms of the locations where employees would want to work. What matters most is that each team is meeting deadlines and delivering work in its utmost quality.
Agencies will continue to change over the years, and At the end of the day, the changes in the workplace are not about making employees work harder and longer. It’s all about working smarter. It’s about being more creative, thinking bigger, and bringing in better ideas that before. Therefore, where you work and what routine you follow on the daily will be less of an importance in future agencies.