What is a creative boutique?
To be honest, there are many different ways in which people interpret the term ‘creative boutique’. Some people define a boutique agency as nothing more than just a small advertising agency. Others define them as organisations that concentrate on providing services only in their field of expertise.
There is truth in both those definitions. Therefore, if we were to classify a creative boutique, it would be as follows:
‘A creative boutique is an advertising agency which is considerably smaller than a full-service agency and offers a specialized set of services to its clients.’
Unlike large full-scale agencies, creative boutiques do not have multiple worldwide locations, with huge payrolls. They generally tend to be local agencies, with a unique work ethic and management style as compared to some of the larger advertising agencies.
How does a boutique agency work?
One of the elements that define a creative boutique is its size. Creative boutiques are noticeably smaller than most full-service agencies. This leads to an interesting situation as smaller teams mean these agencies must work very differently to perform the same tasks and functions as big agencies.
In a full-service agency, the processes involved in a project are very defined. The role of each employee is well-established with each department knowing exactly what their duties are. For example, a client servicing manager will only stick to communicating with clients and internal teams while a copywriter will only be involved in writing copy for the campaign.
The creative boutique work culture is very different to this. Since the number of people working is limited, there’s a lot more flexibility in the way boutiques operates. More often than not, roles in a creative boutique overlap and staff cross disciplines while working on a project. This leads to greater creativity and more well-rounded campaigns as most of the team have a basic overall idea about the project, every step of the way.
Creative boutiques also tend to very involved with the work put in front of them. Unlike a full-service agency, there aren’t dozens of people involved at every step of the way. In fact, due to the interchangeability of roles, you often end up giving a brief to a member of the creative team rather than an account handler. This is particularly useful as you’re directly communicating with someone who is actively involved in the creation of the final product.
Another difference between a creative boutique and a full-service agency’s functioning is the business model of these organizations. If you were to look at the business model of most creative boutiques, the main source of income stems from retaining customers. Creative boutiques generally place a high priority on keeping and working on existing clients accounts as this leads to a steady source of income while keeping the workload on its employees in check.
The business model of bigger agencies, on the other hand, is based on the number of clients it has. Due to the large workforce, full-service agencies can and need to continuously expand their client base to survive in the market.
Advantages of creative boutiques
All these factors lead to creative boutiques having certain advantages when compared to full-service agencies. One of the biggest advantages of working with a creative boutique is the cost. In both bigger agencies and creative boutiques, the size of the core team creating the campaign is same. However, due to lesser overhead, creative boutiques are generally much cheaper.
Also, due to greater flexibility and personalized interaction, boutiques are very useful and creative when dealing with smaller campaigns or singular collateral. This isn’t to say they aren’t effective when handling larger projects. In those cases, creative boutiques often team up with external agencies to create fully formed creative strategies for their clients.
So, when should your agency hire a creative boutique?
Your advertising campaign brief should be your starting point when selecting the right advertising agency for your campaign. Take a look at what services you’d require, how many assets you need, how widespread the campaign should be and your allocated budget.
If you wish to go ahead with a creative boutique for your campaign, selecting the right boutique is the next important step. A good tip in selecting the right agency is to have a look at the agency’s portfolio. Since these agencies are generally small, the chances of working with the same team that created the campaigns in the portfolio will be considerably higher as compared to a traditional agency. Keeping these in mind will give you an idea of the way the agency works and their creative capabilities-crucial tools for an effective campaign.