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Business Aspects of Being An “In-House” Designer

Good design is available from many sources: agencies, design studios, freelancers, crowdsourcing, outsourcing, and offshoring. Therefore, it is essential that you bring “added value” to the table to stand out from the other options.


Cost consciousness

Because the in-house design and/or marketing department is considered a non-profit entity or in many cases, an expense (cost of doing business), you must, at the minimum, cover the overhead.

Constantly search for ways to make the department more cost-efficient and seek out ways to save money with your vendors and suppliers.

  • Consolidate paper purchases
  • Optimize stock imagery usage
  • Take advantage of competitive bidding for printing services
  • Work with Purchasing/Procurement to help them make sense of complicated agency, printing or new media vendors’ invoices
  • Help create appropriate vendor contracts

Service oriented

You are in a unique position to support your “client” in ways which outsiders cannot.

  • Assist HR by taking on some of the responsibilities of the orientation of new hires
  • Help them understand the business as well as how design contributes to it
  • Create and implement systems for routing and review of materials
  • Serve as a liaison with outside agencies and design firms if they are involved

Being in close proximity to your “client” gives you exclusive insights into communication styles and marketing priorities that an outside vendor would never have access to. Use that advantage — anticipate the needs of your “client” proactively.

Insider information

No outside agency or freelancer can possibly understand your company’s branding and marketing priorities as comprehensively as you. Leverage your insider information by serving as the “Keeper” of the Brand Book and update it continuously as the business grows and changes. Perform regular marketing material audits and present the progress to other members of the company to support those who are responsible for maintaining your brand.

Legal and regulatory issues

Agencies are notorious for dropping the ball when it comes to this issue. Routing and approvals and the policies and codes associated with this process are complex and confusing. As an insider, you already know the players and participate in the process on a daily basis. You understand how to prep designs to avoid frustrating and costly revision cycles. Employ this expertise unfailingly and you’ll be perceived as an invaluable member of the organization.

And while these areas are not exactly fulfilling in the same way as creating a killer design can be, they are critical to your company’s and your own success.

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