Should I hire an in-house graphic designer or use an agency?

PHd design

One of the most common challenges faced by business owners and marketing managers alike when growing their brand is deciding whether to hire an in-house graphic designer or to work with a design agency. It’s not an easy decision to make, so we’ve put together some information that will hopefully help to make the decision that little bit easier.

Here are the key benefits of working with a design agency over hiring an in-house designer for your business;

1 Cost

More often than not, it is cheaper to hire a design agency than to recruit and hire an in-house designer for your business. This may seem like a bold statement, but let’s take a closer look at the costs…

According to Glassdoor, as of 2020 the average cost to a business for recruiting a new employee was £3,000. Plus the time it takes to onboard your new hire, and the reduced productivity for both the new hire and the existing staff who are helping them to acclimate to your business.

Then there is the salary, according to Reed, as of 2022 the average annual wage for a graphic designer is just shy of £32,000. And given the competitive job market and difficulty businesses are experiencing in filling vacancies, you will likely need to offer an above average wage with bonuses or additional incentives to catch the attention of the right candidate.

And of course, your newly hired in-house designer would need desk space, the usual IT equipment and a few specialist pieces of kit. They will also need a number of design software and subscriptions to enable them to carry out their work.

The good news is that agencies are generally paid on a per project basis, meaning that you only pay for what you need, rather than a full time salary. And there are no recruitment costs incurred for your business.

It is also worth noting that design agencies have the infrastructure in place to handle a wide variety of projects, they will have access to a number of softwares and subscriptions that can be used on your projects at no additional cost – that would not be cost effective for you to purchase for an in-house designer.


2 Reliability

Design projects often come with strict deadlines. The knock on effect of a missed deadline could impact the productivity and schedules of a number of other teams within your business.

But if you have an in-house team of one, there can be real issues should the unexpected happen. If that employee becomes ill or must take an extended period away from work unexpectedly – everything design based grinds to a halt. This means that no new work can be started, and those projects that were almost finished will stay that way until the employee returns (assuming that they are able to return).

This is one of the key benefits of working with an agency. They have teams of designers, meaning that should the unexpected happen, another member of the team (who will already be familiar with your project and business) can pick up the slack to ensure that your project is still completed on time and on budget!


3 Experience and skill

Design agencies specialise in, well, design – it’s what they do best. That is why agencies tend to attract the more skilled and creative designers in the industry.

These designers then do something truly fantastic; they challenge each other. They offer constructive criticism and suggest tweaks and improvements and much more. This dynamic environment driven by creativity really helps designers to dig deeper and let their inspirations run wild – resulting in some of the best creative work around.

In-house designers as a team of one don’t benefit from their creative environment in the same way that an agency does. And unfortunately this can cause tunnel vision, meaning that your business won’t benefit from innovation and new ideas – because there is no real creative challenge to designs made in-house.

Think about it, there is a good reason why big companies like Coca-Cola outsource their creative and marketing works to agencies. The reason is because it yields better results than an in-house team – and they know it!


So, should you hire in-house or work with a design agency?

Admittedly, as we are rated in the top 100 of all creative agencies in the UK, we are probably a little biased in our recommendation. But we firmly believe that in the vast majority of cases, it is better to hire an agency. It is more cost effective, reduces risk and produces a higher quality of work, which in turn provides a better return on investment on spend…

If you are considering working with a design agency, PHd Design might be the right fit for your business and brand’s needs. If you would like to learn more about working with us on your next branding or design project, please email