One of the most exciting things about working in the digital creative sphere is the number of different approaches you can apply to your work – for many agencies, that includes white labelling.
For those not in the know, perhaps because you only work directly with clients, white labelling is simply an instance where you work under a client or other agency’s brand, rather than your own. You’re figuratively placing a white label over your logo so that they can put their own on top. The effect is that the other agency has done the work themselves, rather than opting to outsource it to you. It’s an especially useful method for agencies which are lacking whether in certain skills, or in the availability of team members from particular backgrounds.
For the third party, it means the work gets done, and for you it’s another paycheque. That being said, white labelling isn’t right for every agency, and some may prefer to stick to working exclusively with their own clients.
Of course the only way to really find out how you feel about white labelling is by giving it a go. Equally, if you’ve already tried it and you’re still on the fence, perhaps this blog can help you to make sense of it all. Good luck!
The Pros and Cons
Before we launch into how to make white labelling work for your agency, it’s important to acknowledge the strengths and limitations involved with this method of working. As with almost anything in life, making white labelling work to your advantage involves targeting the negatives and turning them into positives, all the while keeping the things that make it great intact. So what makes white labelling great, and what turns some agencies off from it?
- There’s a huge variety of work available perhaps not otherwise accessible (if an agency is a preferred supplier, for example)
- Success makes you likely to become a favoured partner in future white labelled projects, meaning more retained work for your team
- Theoretically, there’s less management involved – instead of communicating with a client, you’ll be dealing with a third party, allowing you to get on with doing what you do best
- Less exposure for your own brand, as you’ll be representing someone else’s
- Invoices can be held up if the third party hasn’t been paid
- There’s significantly less control involved on your side
Making it Work
As mentioned above, the art of making white labelling work for you is all about turning the negatives into positives. White labelling offers up a whole host of opportunities for agencies of all shapes and sizes, but to make the most of those advantages means getting a few things sorted first.
With white labelling, the negative aspects seemingly all revolve around the simple fact that you are further away from the client – and the distance can make it feel like you don’t have enough (or any) control. Combating this, however, is as easy as tackling the following:
Agree on how this partnership is going to work between you and the other agency. There are sometimes opportunities whereby you don’t need to relinquish your brand’s name, whereas on other occasions the highest level of discretion must be implemented – including signing non-disclosure agreements.
As part of this agreement, be sure to secure payment terms which ensure you get paid regardless of whether or not the client’s invoice has cleared – after all, you’ve done the work, so why wouldn’t you get paid for it? Finally, include which services you’ll be offering and time scales to form boundaries, and make sure your team don’t get hit with too many extraneous requests.
Appoint a main point of contact at the intermediary agency, if direct contact with the client isn’t possible. On occasion, some agencies would just have their white labelled suppliers contact clients as if they were from the same organisation, whilst others ban all communication. Ensuring you have one person to communicate with on a regular basis will help you to feel a lot closer to the client, and means you can keep up to date with the other aspects of the project more easily.
Don’t put all of your eggs in the same basket if you’re worried about how your agency will fare when labelled as someone else. Win some projects that work directly with you to successfully maintain your team’s workload, all the while getting your agency’s name out in the open.
Whereas some agencies decide to specialise exclusively in white labelled services (and others choose the opposite), there’s nothing wrong with mixing up what your agency offers – as long as it’s all high quality work! If you’re hesitant to swing exclusively one way or the other, try winning one white labelled project first and hammer out any issues before taking it further.
With all that in mind, we want to hear your thoughts! Do you choose to white label your agency’s work, or do you prefer the spotlight for your agency alone? Tweet us your thoughts!