Creative agencies vs digital agencies

Is it obvious anymore?

3 mins

That title? Not an uncommon search these days. And as the search results are often dated – and even more often confusing – we were genuinely going to write that post. In fact, we did write it. Almost 900 words to explain how agency types had become confused over the years, and the reasons why that might be. They examined the differences and times when a startup, a scaleup, or established business might need to engage with one or the other.

But that original post took too long to drive home 3 main points:

  1. They’re increasingly more alike than they are different
  2. We’re neither
  3. We partner with both

Traditional definitions

The internet is littered with rambling, tedious differences which I shall summarise thus:

For creative agencies, think:

  • Branding
  • Marketing
  • PR
  • Advertising

For digital agencies, think:

  • SEO
  • PPC
  • Social Media
  • Insights and data analysis

There was a time when if you wanted a logo, brand guidelines, a marketing campaign, or a radio ad then you’d approach an agency that sat under the ‘creative’ umbrella. Conversely, if you wanted to drive traffic to your site or app, then you’d have been chatting to a distinctly digital agency.

But it’s 2020

To regard these disciplines as siloed these days, I think, is too simplistic.

Consider, if you will, a (re)branding process. Your repositioning will require analysis of keywords and social media insights, or, if you’re just starting out, that of your competitors’. These are tools used to define your target demographic. Tools traditionally used by digital agencies.

And any marketing or advertorial campaign these days must consider social channels and promoted adverts.

Whilst their starting points might be different, today’s creative agencies can’t survive without being digital, and digital agencies can’t stand out from the crowd without being creative. They often work together – even merge, on occasion. They can be that intertwined.

So, these days the agency with which you engage to:

  • raise your startup’s public profile
  • develop new campaigns for your products
  • or create your comms strategy

might call themselves creative or digital but they’re very likely a bit of both.

Software Development Agencies

Spork is a software development team. We don’t design logos, brand guidelines or business papers, and we don’t keep a list of social media influencers on speed dial. We don’t create motion graphics or design Instagram posts. But we do work with the talented agencies who create these things, bringing experience and excellence to the development side of projects.

Because quite often, the output from those agencies would be a technical project.

We acknowledge that some creative agencies will have a development team capable of building a WordPress site or campaign site – and they’re doing these things well. But what if the project is more technologically ambitious, or needs solutions more robust? What if you need a better, more efficient way for your website and back office systems to interact? What if you need that back office system?

If you need a software solution for the pain points in your production system, or enterprise level scalability, redundancy and support, then creative and digital agencies may not be setup for this. And why should they be? Software development and DevOps isn’t their core competency, just like logo design isn’t ours.

Creative agencies and digital agencies can design your image, identify and grow your audiences, and craft your messages. Sure, we can build you a great looking website or an app. We’ve done them before and are happy to do them in the future. But we also design, develop and implement systems that automate processes and increase productivity.

Whether you’re a startup that needs an MVP, an established business looking to streamline workflow, or an organisation trying to kick start the digital transformation to carry you into the next phase of growth, we give you the technical platform to reach those goals.

What if you’re a creative or digital agency yourself with clients seeking to remedy these types of problems?

This is where Spork adds value for you.

We facilitate your plans and honour your fastidious designs. But we also exist to make your life easier, and that of your clients’, through the tech that underpins it all.

Get in touch and see where Spork fits in to your future agency relationships.

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