Best Creative Agencies

Chicago’s Best Creative Agencies in 2021

Chicago Creative agencies are businesses that help organizations bring their brands to life. The services provided by these companies can vary, but they may include market research, product development, branding, advertising, campaign building, and public relations.

Over the last couple of decades, Chicago creative agencies have seen a massive shift in the way their services are delivered; from voice to paper to analog, and, finally, to the digital channels that we use today.

Nationwide, the creative industry is worth $698 billion and accounts for 4.32% of U.S. goods and services. Contributing towards a large portion of the U.S economy, new Chicago creative agencies launch every year, and others begin finding their way to fame. This can make finding the right creative agency for your organization or brand somewhat challenging.

Despite our beloved Chicago being one of the top service cities in the nation, searching for a creative agency in Chicago may yield few results, and it may be difficult to find the ones that cater to your specific needs. Even if you do find what you’re looking for, the process can take a long time, using up precious resources you could be using on another task within your organization.

This is why we’re here to help. We have come up with the top local Chicago creative agencies. With many different creative entities to choose from, all of which specialize in different areas within the niche, there’s guaranteed to be something here for everyone’s needs.

What is a Creative Agency?

A creative agency is exactly what it sounds like – an organization that leverages technology and creative strategies to help clients accomplish their marketing, advertising, and branding goals. It’s essentially a team of experts that develop and execute creative solutions to help companies promote their products or services, raise brand awareness, and, more importantly, boost sales.

Creative agencies in Chicago spend long hours crafting imaginative, engaging, and artistic solutions to help bring brands to life. They typically offer a wide range of services that fall under the following focus areas:

  • Advertising: They design, develop, and implement creative ad campaigns to help businesses market their products, services, or brands to consumers or other businesses. For this reason, creative agencies are sometimes referred to as advertising agencies or marketing agencies.
  • Design: They use creative solutions to innovate and adapt for today’s markets how brands and their products look
  • Technology: Creative agencies often help organizations incorporate technological solutions into their marketing, branding, and advertising practices.
  • Strategy: Creative agencies work with clients to craft refined, dynamic strategies to help clients better serve their target audience and increase sales, generate more leads, and boost revenue.

So, whether your business wants to better showcase its brand, build a robust public relations (PR) program, or put together compelling advertising campaigns, a great Chicago creative agency has got you covered. Every agency has a team of professionals who are qualified to offer specific services you need. The best Chicago creative agencies usually have a team of dedicated experts like creative directors, account reps, market researchers, and designers.

Why Do People Hire Creative Agencies?

Whether you’re planning to rework your marketing strategy, launch a new product, or rebrand, a viable partnership with a good Chicago creative agency can make a massive difference. But that isn’t the only reason why people and businesses turn to creative agencies.

– People bring in creative agencies for their fresh and objective outlook

Today’s highly competitive business environment has made it necessary for businesses to always refresh and rework their brands. After all, consumer trends are constantly evolving, and the way you portray your business should too. Effective branding can help boost brand awareness, build buzz for your products, and ultimately, increase sales and revenue.

It’s important to have a fresh outlook and perspective on your brand. And it’s often difficult for an in-house marketing or branding team to be objective about your brand. A fresh set of eyes from outside your firm can better assess your branding strategy, and this is where creative agencies can make the difference.

They will help identify branding opportunities that your in-house team might miss. This invaluable perspective can be a fresh breath of air for your marketing and branding strategies.

– Companies choose creative agencies to access a ready-made team of experts

Most people hire creative agencies because they’re a ready-made solution. You don’t need to train, recruit, or onboard anyone, as they’re already experts in what they do. When you bring in a Chicago creative agency, you’re essentially getting access to talents with proven skills, expertise, and deep knowledge. This means you can get your branding or marketing campaigns off the ground easily and quickly.

The agency already has a team of professionals in its fold. These may include social media managers, PR experts, graphic designs, creative directors, market researchers, videographers, and advertising managers. You’ll have tons of expertise at your disposal. In addition, these agencies come with deep connections and know-how that your creative efforts need to get the right results.

– People turn to creative agencies for help with advertising

Advertising, as it clearly says on the label, is all about ads. Getting the word out there and doing it in a professional, subtle, and creative manner. If you have ever been impressed with a creative campaign, video, or design, there’s a good chance a creative agency was behind it.

Chicago creative agencies have the skills, expertise, and tools to produce compelling and result-producing promotional campaigns. They are well versed in both digital and print advertising, using content, social media, and other marketing tactics to make your brand more appealing, recognizable, and iconic.

– They hire creative agencies to free up time and human resources

Have you ever wondered how much time, skills, and creative juices are needed to churn out interesting designs, campaigns, and video campaigns? From branding strategists, website developers, copywriters, creative directors, designers, and researchers, many experts are involved in bringing creative work to life.

But most companies, particularly small to medium enterprises, don’t have the time and resources to put together a team of such talents. And trying to assemble that team takes detracts from the efforts and focus on what matters the most to their businesses. Enter Chicago creative agencies, an innovative partner that will take the hassle and guesswork out of the creative process, so that your internal team can pay attention to the main realms of your business.

– Organizations need creative agencies’ expansive networks and connections

Your business, let alone branding efforts, won’t prosper through networking alone. Thankfully, the best Chicago creative agencies have a ton of connections that can come in handy when marketing your business. They have long-standing relationships with people in media, advertising, PR, and other aspects of marketing.

With a single marketing campaign, you can link to visual, audio, and print media, which can dramatically enhance your brand’s credibility, trust, and recognition. In the digital space, the creative agency’s connections can also play a massive role. For instance, if you’ve put together amazing content, you can use the agency’s network to promote it, build authority links, and get it in front of as many target markets as possible.

It’s really all about reachability. They have expansive email lists, a large social media following, and a network of respected news websites.

What Are the Different Types of Creative Agencies?

Whether you need help to enhance your business performance, push PR campaigns, improve sales, or find greater expertise, bringing in the right creative agency is crucial to growing your business. However, there are various types of creative agencies that fall under the focus areas of advertising, technology, strategy, and design.

Let’s take a closer look at the different types of creative agencies, so you can pick the right one for your business:

1- Consulting Creative Agencies

These creative agencies focus on big-picture ideas and strategies. They develop and implement creative solutions, with the primary aim of attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. Consulting agencies usually focus on a specific industry or market and often conduct immense research to learn the ins and outs of their focus areas.

Consulting agencies can be quite large and bring together a raft of creative and professional services under one umbrella. They typically leverage market research, competitor analysis, and customer data to create actionable strategies that are sure to deliver business success.

While most Chicago consulting agencies have an R&D team with numerous services included, they generally advise their clients about a range of strategic areas:

  • Creating strategic solutions that will boost sales and revenue
  • Using research to create strategies for expanding into new markets
  • Devising creative strategies for bringing new products or services to the market
  • Improving business processes and operations

2- Advertising Agencies

Creative agencies that fall under this umbrella focus almost exclusively on advertising and marketing services. They may throw in a few branding services into the mix, but promoting businesses is their forte. Some of their common services include:

  • Production and placement of advertisements
  • Brand strategy creation
  • Market research and competitor analysis

These are usually traditional ad agencies, social media specialists, or PR agencies. Their goal is to churn out promotional materials and campaigns that bolster brand awareness and promote services or products for their clients. As such, ad agencies help with customer acquisition, loyalty-building, and improving brand recognition. They may also tinker with strategy.

3- Interactive Agencies

These are creative agencies that craft imaginative and interactive projects, often for the web. They are usually brought in to craft digital experiences by using a combination of user-friendly designs, multimedia content, and innovative tech. They often team up with other creative outlets like consulting, marketing, and advertising agencies to ensure business success.

While interactive agencies focus mainly on technology and design, they offer a variety of creative services that include:

  • Integrating augmented reality and virtual reality into branding projects
  • Creating interactive billboards and signage
  • Production of branded applications and games
  • Website design

4- Design Agencies

Design agencies are creative outlets that focus on everything that has to do with the look of your services, products, and brands. They typically work hand in hand with other creative agencies like engineering agencies, consultants, and ad outlets to fully implement their work.

The heart of the work is to make the client’s brands, products, or services more appealing than their rivals’ to the target audience. Their myriad services may include:

  • Product design
  • Branding design
  • Print design
  • Digital design

5- Digital Agencies

These creative agencies can be specialized or full-service digital outlets. Full-service digital agencies excel at all of the four areas of creative services, including technology, design, strategy, and advertising. For this reason, they’re often considered a one-stop-shop for creative services. Regular digital agencies don’t offer full creative services, and as a result, may have to work with other outlets.

At their core, digital agencies use innovative strategies and technology to create great designs and engage target customers. The central objective is to make the business stand out from the competition. They usually focus on a series of creative areas that include:

  • Web analytics
  • Online presence building
  • App design and development
  • Digital signage and advertising
  • PR and marketing

6- Engineering Agencies

These are creative agencies that provide technology expertise. They partner with other creative outlets to develop and implement complex projects for clients. They usually leverage a range of platforms and technological solutions to solve complex, often technical pain points for companies. Not seeing this term used in this way in researching it.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Creative Agency Over a Freelance Designer?

Should you hire a creative agency or opt for a freelance designer? This is one age-old question that many small businesses always wrestle with when it comes to seeking creative services. There’s no question each option comes with its set of advantages and downsides.

Here are the top perks that you can expect to get from the best Chicago creative agencies, but not from a freelance designer.

– No trouble meeting deadlines

Freelance designers are humans after all. They can easily be overwhelmed when there’s a lot of work to do. With creative agencies in Chicago, you don’t have to worry about missed deadlines. Need a last-minute pre-launch promotional video for your Instagram marketing? No problem. These agencies have a large in-house team of skilled professionals who can work together to complete your project on time and within budget.

– Creative agencies offer greater technical expertise and professionalism

Technical expertise is one key benefit that Chicago creative agencies offer clients. Freelancers, on the other hand, are perhaps so overwhelmed These two blue references have the same statement; please revise with work that they don’t have time to polish their skills and keep up with the latest tech and best practices.

Agencies that can always hire better talents and make use of advanced technology to make sure your advertising and branding campaigns cut the mustard. With a large talent pool, you can expect a high level of professionalism and technical expertise for the agency.

– Higher quality of deliverables

Small or big, creative agencies in Chicago are always after pleasing the customer. Their top priority is delivering top-notch work, making customer reviews and testimonials their biggest concerns. By doing a bang-up job, they can build a collection of positive reviews that will help them build rapport, establish credibility, and attract more clients.

– Well-structure workflows and processes

It’s difficult to understand how most freelance designers work. What tools, techniques, and inspirations do they use? With creative agencies, you will have full control over how your project is handled from start to finish, as they have well-structured work systems and processes in place.

Does Chicago Have Many Creative Agencies?

Yes, Chicago has an active community of creative agencies spread across the Windy City. From content, design, and advertising to consulting, engineering, and digital agencies, Chicago has a wide variety of creative agencies. We’ve only included the cream of the crop in this list.

Aside from the common types of creative agencies we mentioned above, the Chicago agency scene offers a plethora of other creative and marketing services that include:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) and search marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing
  • PR marketing and more

What Makes a Creative Agency Good?

Creativity: A good Chicago creative agency puts innovation and imaginative thinking front and center. They have a team of professionals that combine creativity with technology and problem-solving skills to turn client ideas and needs into effective strategies.

Ability to make brands stand out: No matter what you do and who your target audience is, you must present what makes your business, products, or services unique and desirable within your market. Great agencies create and implement actionable marketing and business strategies to develop your core messaging and boost your positioning in the marketing.

Well-defined approach and philosophy: It’s always a wise idea to know where you want to be, but more importantly, you should have the means and approach to get there. The best Chicago creative agencies have clearly defined approaches and philosophies that help them keep their eyes on the prize and therefore make it easy for clients to reap the rewards of their efforts.

Great leadership skills: Top creative outlets impress with great leadership that fosters a sense of community, teamwork, and creative thinking.

Account managers that prioritize creativity: Innovative thinking should be at the heart of what any creative agency does. They should have a resource or finance team that prioritizes creativity.

Great project managers: The greatest agencies have motivational project managers that bring outs the best of the team’s creativity, perspective, and skills. They know the right buttons to push to bring everyone on board and ensure smooth project completion.

Creatives who value work-life balance: Professionals who work long, hard hours are less likely to produce top-notch work. Choose a Chicago creative team whose members are professionals that practice work-life balance.


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