in-house and outside

Lou Dorfsman was the staff creative director at CBS broadcasting when he created their new logo. That’s right; the in-house creative director designed the new logo for one of the biggest broadcasting corporations on the planet. Not an outside branding agency.

The knowledge of this fact makes you either:

  • Proud of the kind of creativity you know can come from an in-house designer.
  • Frustrated that so many corporate leaders seem to overlook their in-house creative teams and turn to agencies for branding and advertising.
  • Or, both of the above

Right about now you may be thinking that I’m about to go on, and on, espousing the qualities of in-house creativity. But I’m not (even though I can for hours). The truth is that a good in-house creative team knows how to partner with outside agencies. Maybe you have a team that is on the small side, or you’re a team of one. The reality is that you may not have the time or resources to tackle a particular job. Or maybe you actually do have a large team, but your process is such that you can only effectively manage regular day-to-day projects.

Besides being the company creatives’ – who are asked to solve design challenges every day – we are also employees with obligations and responsibilities to the company’s brand and bottom-line. Sometimes that means recognizing when you can’t – or shouldn’t – take on a project as large as a full re-brand, or multi-city media buy, or 30 second TV spot…even though you really, really, want to.

Rather than approaching this as an in-house vs. outside agency scenario, understand the opportunity for what it really is; to be the creative representation for the company. We get to work with the agencies to achieve the business or strategic results on behalf of the organization…not instead of.

Got a success story to tell about working with outside agencies? Let us know by posting a comment.






InHouse Designer Blog

About Andy Brenits

Andy Brenits is President of the Board of Directors at InSource, the professional association for in-house creative leaders and managers. He is also a creative consultant advising individuals and business owners on brand strategy, creative management, and what it takes to differentiate yourself consistently in a crowded market. He has previously lead creative teams at GAP, Banana Republic, NFL, KPMG, and Arizona Public Service. 

6 thoughts on “in-house and outside

  1. KenS

    Didn’t Lou Dorfsman create the new CBS logo in the 1960s? That story isn’t as amazing when you consider that. Things have changed a lot since then, no?

    1. Andy Brenits Post author

      You’re right, Lou did that over 40 years ago and it’s still the CBS logo. Which is kind of my point. How many corporations have changed-over their identity one or more times in the last 40 years? And despite all of the in-house teams – and the in-house awards we win – there are…we still seem to kind of invisible (although 60% of designers in the U.S. work in-house).

      Yet, as you say times have changed and so have our roles. As corporate design leaders we don’t just design anymore, we manage the process of design. And that includes the work, and relationships, of the outside agencies.

  2. Peter Stevenson

    Hey Other In-House Directors:
    ‘Just curious as to how the majority of in-house corporate America is paying on-line charges; companies who demand paymant and fees at the time of purchase? Are you using only approved vendors? Do you use your own Corporate Charge Card? Do you use Accounting’s? Have a Pay Pal account? what’s the consensus these days?? Any input is useful…!

  3. Daniel Green

    I don’t mean to overlook your main point, but Lou Dorfsman did not create the CBS eye. Willam Golden, who was creative director of advertising and sales promotion at CBS, is usually credited for its creation back in 1951, though other designers have also been credited for work in crafting it. Its first use was for television, since television and radio had been separated into separate divisions in 1951 (with Lou Dorfsman in charge of radio). Lou did not take over until 1959, due to Golden’s untimely death. Lou does get credit, however, for the consistent and vigorous implementation of the logo (and logotype) during his tenure at CBS.

    1. Andy Brenits Post author

      Dan, thanks so much for the clarification about who created the logo. I should have known that. Just proves there’s always room to learn (and fact-check).