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There's no 'I' in Rebrand: 3 Tips for Better Client‑Designer Collaboration

Toggl Plan (previously Teamweek) recently worked with an agency to carry out an insanely successful rebrand, and we can learn a lot from how they did it. In this sponsored blog post by Toggl Plan, we hear from both sides (agency and client) as they share their top tips for more effective collaboration.

I love a good “before and after” rebrand photo. Seeing a brand transformation boiled down to a single image just feels so fresh. Of course, nothing is ever as simple as it appears. It takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get from “before” to “after.” Recently, Toggl Plan and Snask collaborated to create the new Toggl Plan brand.

  • The client, Toggl Plan, is a simple project planner and team management tool with a vengeance against stress.
  • The agency, Snask, is a creative agency of misfit geniuses conquering the world through fine lookin’ design and real emotions.
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Background

There are two ways to approach a rebrand—you either dedicate a team in-house to come up with a new brand concept or you get help from external consultants.

On one hand, the people in-house know the values of your existing company, its customers, and the market the best. What they lack in rebranding experience, they make up for in motivation, access to stakeholders, and in-depth knowledge of the company.

On the other hand, an agency can offer a fresh perspective. Agencies have years of branding experience and tried and tested working methods, which might be just what you need to breathe new life into the existing company.

Now, let’s get to the interesting stuff—the different viewpoints on the in-house and agency side of this project and how the two can come together to achieve a shared goal.


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Tip #1: Focus on change management


The Agency: Change Hurts

Snask has worked in this industry long enough to have seen it all; trends, markets, industries, and even economic crises have come and gone again. We work at the forefront, partly creating that change, pushing for innovation, and breaking barriers.

“The only constant is change” is a common saying, which is true, but it’s not the only constant. Another constant is that change hurts. When you work with a creative agency, particularly one like Snask, it’s a given that we will push you into the unknown. That is the only way we can do our job, to create a brand that is not a copy of something that was done yesterday.

We encourage companies to go into this process with an open mind, even though it is scary and unknown.

Another constant: our methods of getting you there. There is a lot of trust and creative freedom involved in doing what we do. Therefore, we encourage companies to go into this process with an open mind, even though it is scary and unknown, and trust that the results will be great. Change hurts, but it means you’re growing.

Toggl Plan Illustrations

Toggl Plan Illustrations

by Eliza Hearsum for Toggl Plan

Part of our rebrand included a refresh of our graphics and illustration style. Using a bold, reduced colour palette and simplified style, our characters and product graphics start afresh in the world of Toggl Plan.

View on Dribbble

The Client: Trust makes change easier

Rebranding, especially the comprehensive way we did it at Toggl Plan, is a major endeavor. Let’s be honest—it’s scary, resource-exhaustive and comes with certain risks. But it’s also exciting, a learning process, and a chance to grow.

Working with an agency to create a new brand identity can make it harder to get the in-house team excited about the changes. However, in order for them to successfully work with the new brand materials, the team needs to be on board, living and breathing the new brand identity.

It’s easier to introduce new ideas to the in-house team when the agency has clearly thought through how the brand will live and grow in real-life scenarios.

It’s easy to get your in-house team excited about the changes ahead when they trust the agency you chose. Choosing the right agency is crucial, but the work doesn’t stop there. An agency that shows up, keeps its promises, and learns the nuances of your brand and industry is a joy to work with. It’s also easier to introduce new ideas to the in-house team when the agency has clearly thought through how the brand will live and grow in real-life scenarios.


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Before

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After

Tip #2: Have a process for feedback


The agency: Give united feedback

The creative process can be hard, especially when you work in teams or there are multiple stakeholders. Many opinions, feelings, or thoughts are purely subjective, and finding the sweet spot for everyone can be tricky and tedious.

We always ask for one voice of feedback, meaning that the team has to be on the same page and speak as a collective voice. If they find themselves in a situation where they disagree or can’t agree on feedback, it’s a great opportunity to have an exercise for the brand.

We always ask for one voice of feedback, meaning that the team has to be on the same page and speak as a collective voice.

The point of a great brand is for everyone to live and breathe the brand. If we can’t get you there, we have failed our job. However, by always using feedback as an opportunity to work with the brand, we can prevent any discrepancies or gaps between the brand and design, and the people working with it.


The client: Keep people involved and informed

The best way to get your employees invested in the new brand is to involve them early on. One of the greatest successes we had was a monthly open call. It was a place for everyone to get updates on the progress, openly voice their concerns or questions, and get answers straight away.

It’s not feasible to act on every opinion, so it’s up to the project managers to pick out the right ideas to pass on, let people know they’re heard, and keep everyone informed. Setting expectations in advance helps avoid frustrations. A few things to communicate upfront are:

  • Who can give feedback? Is everyone’s feedback welcome, or should people only give feedback on their areas of expertise?
  • When can in-house people get involved? Are they given a chance to leave feedback after every iteration or just the final draft?
  • How much time is there to leave feedback? Time-crunched feedback rounds may end up more shallow and less meaningful.
  • Where is feedback collected? Having too many channels open at the same time may result in chaos and frustration.
  • What happens to the feedback? What will happen if someone’s feedback isn’t taken on board? Simply ignoring ideas that people have made an effort to share discourages and disengages the team.

The project lead will be the voice of the feedback and answering all the above questions in advance will make her life a lot easier. Ultimately, no single person has the monopoly on great ideas and often the best outcomes are achieved through open collaboration.


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Tip #3: Be sure to follow through


The agency: Walk the talk

For us, the magic happens when ambition, expectations, and budget align. Remove one, and you find your process unbalanced. Some clients have high expectations but not enough ambition, some have high ambition but no budget, and some even have high budget but too little ambition.

At the beginning of every project, Snask makes sure that all three pillars are aligned, creating a foundation on which we can then create from. However, something that is out of our control, is what happens after each delivery. We always help with the implementation, but there will come a time when our clients need to take matters in their own hands and test their wings.

Here we would like to encourage anyone who is going through a branding journey to follow through. Don’t hesitate, don’t lose sight of your goal, keep on following through and walk the talk.


The client: This is it

If a new brand concept is created but never properly executed, did it really ever happen? It’s important to understand the different roles and concerns of each side.

The agency is hired to come up with a concept, a great idea. Their concern is pushing the client out of their comfort zone while delivering an awe-inducing brand platform, tonality, and graphic identity.

If you’ve gotten people involved with the rebrand early in the process, it’s easier for them to follow through.

The in-house team is the one that needs to really get excited about the outcome. While concepts are great, these people are often more concerned with real-life obstacles—how the deliverables will work on the website or in campaigns, and how to make sure all the hard work translates into business growth. This is where the in-house team takes over and starts on arguably one of the most important parts of the rebrand—the execution.

If you’ve gotten people involved with the rebrand early in the process, it’s easier for them to follow through. This is where the earned trust and involving people will pay off big time. If done right, working on a major project will bring the team together over a shared purpose. In the end, your team will be excited to launch the new brand and see the results.


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Coming together

As seen above, a huge project such as a rebrand is messy, especially when there are many stakeholders involved. Each side has a story of their own and things they need to focus on. To create the best possible outcome, the agency and the client need to work together to set the right expectations, communicate openly, and get excited. When the job is done for one, the other is only about to begin.

If you’re thinking about rebranding, be sure to check out our detailed guide. We cover all the nitty-gritty details, from how to rebrand your product to the two key audiences you need to consider when launching your new brand.

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About the authors:

Kati Kuustik was part of the rebrand on the in-house side. Her role in Toggl Plan includes everything from digital marketing and analytics to customer research and, occasionally, content creation. So the work has just begun for her. Luckily she has great plans for the new brand execution—you should see how pretty her Toggl Plan timeline looks!

Camilla Brandow is the account director at Snask. Her main responsibility is to plan and set up structures for the project, making sure the job gets done smoothly and in time. She also creates processes both for the client and the creatives to optimize the outcome, enabling magic to happen.

Find more Process stories on our blog Courtside. Have a suggestion? Contact stories@dribbble.com.


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