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Analysis

Why More Companies Are Expanding Their Storytelling With In-House Studios

Learn why more and more brands are taking back control over their narrative

Adebisi Adewusi
April 06 2019

From Unilever to Honda, brands are taking their image development tools back from agencies. 72% of brands believe that agency structures and processes are not progressing at the same rate as brands’ needs. To remain competitive and improve their storytelling capabilities, brands are opening studios and moving the production and distribution of content in-house. As of last year, 78% of companies had in-house agencies, up from 58% in 2013.

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Companies have a variety of reasons for ditching agencies. While budget efficiency is a major reason brands such as Unilever converted to in-house studios, here are some other reasons for the in-house studio trend.

Internal Teams

Beyond the ability to create attention-grabbing campaigns, brands want to work with agency partners that deeply understand their business and customers. That’s why for 53% of brands, an agency’s understanding of the consumer journey is a key priority for their future rosters. And who better to run content marketing than those who already fully understand the brand’s vision, product, and customers? It makes sense then that 83% of brands believe that in-house teams have better brand knowledge, more control over their message and voice, and can deliver a consistent narrative across all touchpoints.

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In-house teams are more able to create content that really captures the brand’s voice and resonates with customers – more intuitively and with less effort. Indeed, 79% of organizations are satisfied with their in-house agencies.

To build a successful in-house agency, you need a team of internal brand advocates with the right talent, skills, and personality. Enlist employees who love celebrating your brand and understand storytelling. Fill your in-house creative team with individuals from diverse backgrounds and make sure your team has external inspiration.

Brand Consistency

In a world where 42% of consumers distrust brands, organizational consistency is key to stimulating long-term engagement and trust-building. 35% of consumers rank ‘trust in the brand’ among the top three reasons for shopping at a particular retailer – and one thing that increases consumers’ trust is brand consistency.

If you’re considering an in-house studio, consider reducing the number of agencies you work with and have them collaborate with your internal team. To ensure consistency, implement systems such as a brand management checklist and built-in user permissions requirements to keep things in check and give you more control over how your brand is presented.

Video Production

At this point, every marketer worth their salt knows that consumers have an insatiable appetite for video content. Though more than half of businesses create video content at least once a week and 26% upload video content daily, 85% of consumers want to see more branded videos.  And brands are responding to the demand; 79% of in-house agencies currently have video production capabilities. Among those who don’t, 17% have considered adding such capabilities this year.

Smart brands aren’t just churning out video content, they use the creative freedom that comes with an in-house studio to tell authentic stories, creating emotional connections with their customers.

Free from agency interference, Red Bull uses its in-house video production team (Red Bull Media House) to create content at a fast pace that meets the highest standards in both production technology and phenomenal storytelling.

With over 2 billion views on YouTube, the brand’s videos follow Red Bull’s theme of extreme sporting, which resonates with their target audience’s interests and emotions. If you’re planning on having an in-house studio create brand-inspired video content, keep these tips in mind:

  • Ensure that your production team consists of specialists who understand storytelling and can capture your brand’s message
  • When starting out, create small pieces of video content in-house and outsource the production of professional-level video campaigns to agencies while you build experience
  • To emotionally connect with your target market, make them the hero of your video stories and show them how your brand can help solve their pain points. When possible, co-create with your customers.
  • Use branded entertainment to weave your product into your stories. This content marketing strategy entertains consumers and serves as a less intrusive form of marketing.

While there are many ways you can use storytelling to talk about your brand and connect with consumers, pick the ones that tie directly to your marketing goals. For more tips on how to build an effective video strategy, check out this post.

Real-Time Engagement

If you blink, you just might miss something in our hypersocial world – which means brands must produce digital content in real-time. 80% of marketers believe that real-time marketing must occur within an hour of a relevant event to be effective, and agencies struggle to keep up with this timeline. 68% of senior decision makers say external agencies take too long to turn a brief around.

As a result of this high-pressure demand for the speedy creation of quality content, brands such as Coca-Cola are moving social media teams to internal departments. Over the past three years, 46% of companies have moved their social media from an external agency to in-house.

With access to organization leadership for data to inform creative decisions and pitch approval, in-house studio teams are more agile than agencies and fast enough to deliver timely and relevant content that increases consumer engagement.

With a five-person in-house studio team, Hershey was able to leverage the engagement announcement of a real-life couple Ries and Hirschey to launch a social media campaign for its new Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar with Reese’s Pieces in just a week. Commenting on their agility, the brand’s CMO Jill Baskin said that if Hershey had produced this content through an agency, two months would have elapsed until they’d have finally negotiated all conditions and figured out a fee.

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Because brands must execute with agility to remain competitive, make sure you have people on your studio team who can approve and create content on the go. Equip your in-house studio with social listening and image recognition tools to spot brand-related trends, curate visual brand mentions, and monitor conversations as they unfold. For more on how to win with real-time marketing, click here.

Marketing Is Undoubtedly Changing

In-house studios give agencies a run for their money and offer brands an opportunity to better connect with customers and meet their marketing goals. If you’re thinking of opening your own in-house studio, be sure to have a plan for content distribution and take steps to find the right balance between creative liberty and ROI. Provide your creative teams with the right tools and information they need to deliver the expected results. If you’re hanging back to see if in-house studios are just a passing fad, don’t wait too long. It looks like this trend will only continue.

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