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Jamie Cox

How a Creative Collective Differs from a Creative Agency

May 19, 2023
Written By:
Jamie Cox

Creative Agency, Marketing Agency, Brand Studio, Creative Collective—what's the difference? With so many marketing and creative options on the market, it's a bit intimidating to understand where your money is going and what to expect when it comes to building your brand. We've broken down the difference between a creative agency and a creative collective, so you can understand which option is best for you. 

What is a Creative Collective?

A creative collective is a group of creators and marketers who own and manage their independent businesses and client roster but come together to work on larger projects. Often, creative collectives have members spanning various industry experiences and skillsets.

At Strange Salt, our collective is composed of brand, content, and marketing strategists, designers, writers, and digital marketing specialists. We have various life and work experiences —some of us are serial entrepreneurs, others have worked in corporate America for years.

Our teams scale based on a clients' needs and industry. We work directly with the client to determine these needs and assemble the best team for the job. There's no boss or top-dog, though we have a founder who corralled us together and often handles logistics like business development and accounting.

How is a Creative Collective Different from a Creative Agency?

You may be thinking that a creative collective sounds familiar, almost like a creative agency or brand studio. However, there are key differences that make a creative collective more flexible.

Here are a few ways a creative collective differs from a creative agency.

1. Custom Services and Team

While creative agencies often have a set team of full- or part-time employees, creative collectives build a custom team based on a project's scope and the business' needs. Creative collectives often pull in top talent for a one-time project because they aren't limited by their obligations to their existing employees.

All of Strange Salt's collective members are contract employees who run their businesses. They use different skill sets to provide a collection of services based on a client's needs. We understand that each clients' needs are different. We often work with people outside our core collective to provide specialized services. 

2. Direct Communication

At a creative agency, you'll have one point of contact that filters your project information to teams of designers, copywriters, and strategists. With a creative collective, you'll be in direct communication with a Project Manager, but know who is doing the work behind-the-scenes. You may communicate directly with web developers and designers to share feedback and express concerns, but still have a project manager as your point of contact, so you don't have to juggle multiple emails and contact information.

3. Cost Efficiency

Unlike a creative agency, a creative collective doesn't have much overhead. Since each member of a creative collective owns and operates their own business, they control their costs to provide accessible services for customers.

At Strange Salt, we don't work from rate cards or bill hourly. We work together at the start of a project to scope the work and provide a flat rate that fits your budget. Our invoices are sent from one collective source so you only pay one fee—we handle the rest for our collective members.

Is a Creative Collective Right For You?

Traditional creative agencies often serve as an outsourced marketing department for large businesses. If you run a small business, you may be a small fish in a big pond and not receive the attention you expect.

Consider a Creative Collective If:

A creative collective is the ideal solution for someone who is starting their first business, scaling a young business, or is a solopreneur looking for brand and marketing support. Because creative collectives offer direct communication, you'll receive personalized creative services giving you the best, most seamless experience when it comes to developing your brand.

Work with a Creative Collective

So, is a creative collective right for you? Find out for yourself. Strange Salt is now working with new clients!

To start, you'll join us for an introductory call. We'll get to know each other and ensure our values align. We'll work with you to understand your needs as a business owner and make a recommendation based on your budget.

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Written By

Jamie Cox

Jamie is a brand strategist and designer based in Nashville, TN. She founded Strange Salt in 2021 as a way to bring the creative powerhouses in her life together to create amazing things.

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