How in-house creative teams benefit from winning awards

NB: This article first appeared on Creative Review and references the old name of the awards The In-House Design Awards

Emma Sexton, founder of the Inside Out Awards, explains why winning awards can be just as valuable for in-house teams as agencies – so long as the categories reflect their different priorities.

Working as an in-house creative team is never the same as being agency side. An external agency’s value is based mainly on the delivery of their creative outputs, whilst for an in-house creative team there are many more success measures beyond their creative delivery.

Why do awards matter for in-house creative teams?

It can be really hard for in-house creative teams to earn the creditability they deserve. Often it is wrongly assumed that they are not as creative or do not have the skills to execute in the way an external agency might be able too. Receiving a design award becomes the external validation they need to prove to internal clients that they are more than capable of delivering great creative work.

Award wins also become a very important step in the transformation of a in-house creative team, as our previous winners, the NSPCC, discovered. “Winning an award gave our team a massive boost. Not only was it great to get recognition for a project which we were really proud to have worked on, but it also helped us to forge stronger relationships with other people and teams at the NSPCC,” says Sue Hornsby, Creative Director at the NSPCC. “In the last year we’ve seen more and more people picking us as the first choice to take on projects, which means we can go on to take on more exciting challenges as a team and make more of a difference to the organisation.”

Often the pressures on an in-house creative team are relentless so having an opportunity to stop and celebrate can be a real motivation boost.

But it is not just about the validation. Team morale and an opportunity to celebrate are also important. Often the pressures on an in-house creative team are relentless so having an opportunity to stop and celebrate can be a real motivation boost.

“Our In-House Design Award means a lot to us because it recognises the hard work and skill that went into creating the campaign – as well as the research, teamwork, tenacity and care taken to get it right for our partners,” Penny Parnell, Head of Copy at notonthehighstreet.com says. “It’s important to us because the awards take into account business effectiveness, as well as creativity, so it’s testament that it worked all round. It also shows us that it was well worth all the late nights spent and lunches missed! We’re thrilled to have won and would urge anyone to take part.”

Why do in-house creative teams need different categories?

Traditionally the majority of design awards have focused purely on the creative execution of projects, but when I worked in-house I always found it difficult to find award categories for the projects and impact our team had delivered. When I launched my design agency, MYWW, in 2013 I decided to create the UK’s only in-house design awards. My aim has always been to provide an opportunity for these specialist teams to gain recognition for the unique ways they add value and contribute to business success, so our awards have some key themes amongst their categories and the judging criteria.

Our ‘Best Project Awards’ and ‘Best Internal Rebrand / Brand Development’ celebrate great creative work but with extra points awarded for evidence of the business impact and also for any challenges overcome in the delivery.

We also have the ‘what’s a great idea?’ category created to celebrate those early concepts ideas that never went through to final delivery yet are often examples of a team’s really great creative work.

Traditionally the majority of design awards have focused purely on the creative execution of projects, but when I worked in-house I always found it difficult to find award categories for the projects and impact our team had delivered.

Collaboration

Celebrating the collaboration efforts between in-house teams within the business amongst their internal clients, and any external agencies they may be working with is another important criterion. Fostering a culture of togetherness is essential for delivering great work – especially when you are based inside an organisation.

“The great thing about the ‘In-House Design Awards’ was that they showed us was how companies, big or small, are required to bring everyone together during marketing and design projects – from designers to copywriters,” says Clare Gilliland, Senior Brand Designer at Ideagen. “This is essential if they are to create consistency with brand recognition and overall messaging. Only by doing this and working as one, can in-house design teams produce outstanding collateral from print to video.”

Now in its sixth year, we have seen first-hand the positive impact the Awards have had on the in-house community to enable them to clearly demonstrate their value and gain recognition for all their hard work.

Furthermore, we are creating a wonderful community of in-house creative experts who are sharing best practice, making new connections and even collaborating. So, join us in celebrating the outstanding work created by your in-house creative team.