The foundation of great work is a strong strategy. It’s what guides the courses we take to get clients where they want to go.
We prefer open communication with our clients to learn their businesses, develop relationships with their team, and jot down the small anecdotes that lead to big ideas down the line.
DEVELOPING GREAT WORK REQUIRES TRUST.
We believe an environment that promotes our team’s physical and mental health creates an atmosphere of inspiration and collaboration. So that’s just what we do. Together we’ve developed a flexible workflow that allows us to influence culture from the inside of our office or from the inside of our homes.
Our investment in people grows well outside our workspace. We understand this is all bigger than ourselves, so Defy continues to serve nonprofits and the ad community at large.
Over the years, Defy has executed dozens of strategic rebrands for global and national companies.
When setting the table for each of those projects, we drew on our past experiences to recommend tactics and work habits to our clients with the goal of maximizing our combined effectiveness. So, when we decided to rebrand ourselves, we figured, “No sweat.” We’d be our own best client, working smartly and effectively, resulting in a smooth-as-silk creative process and 100% satisfaction on all sides.
Introspection may be painful, but it’s healthy, so in the interest of improving ourselves AND our clients’ experiences, here’s a report card on what we did well, and, uh, not so well during our rebrand from [ 2 one 5 ] Creative to Defy, and how our experiences on the other side of the table might impact our future clients.
OBJECTIVE: Involve diverse stakeholders
Early in our (very long) rebrand process, we surveyed our internal team to get a sense of each person’s brand perceptions and aspirations. During the renaming phase, we sourced recommendations from everyone from copywriters to web developers to account managers. As we refined our creative direction, we sought feedback from clients and industry experts. The only category we didn’t hit super hard was prospective clients (which can be a logistical challenge in the best of cases), but all in all, we covered our bases well here.
OBJECTIVE: Stay focused
Thoughtful rebrands include an early assessment of needs: what deliverables are going to need to feature the new brand, how should they be prioritized, and who’s going to work on what?
Defy did this pretty well… the first time. Then, we did it a second time. Then, we did it a few more times. We added assets, reprioritized, and shifted resources from one deliverable to another, making jobs harder and more fragmented. Designers played musical chairs as new external jobs came in, passing off projects mid-stream.
This definitely wasn’t the most efficient way to operate. Looking back, we should have set – and stuck with – a project team… just like we do for all of our clients. We should have been more disciplined about setting and sticking to a schedule – that would have saved significant time and effort in the long run.
OBJECTIVE: Provide consolidated feedback, give one individual the final say
Having too many cooks in the kitchen is a real problem when it comes to rebrands.
In certain instances, it’s purposeful: some companies prefer that rebrands be managed by large, egalitarian teams.
Other times, it’s accidental: team members who are asked for casual feedback overstep, deputizing themselves as de-facto creative directors and providing their own individual stream of feedback to the creative team.
In both situations, the culprits are well-meaning, but the results – muddled creative and diluted messaging – are sub-optimal.
The best clients source a diversity of feedback, but then consolidate it, leaving it up to a single individual to provide the final yay/nay. That’s how our rebrand proceeded – opinions were welcomed and considered, but Nik gave the final direction, ensuring consistency and authenticity across all Defy-branded touchpoints.
OBJECTIVE: Prioritize the project
We tell clients to prioritize their own rebrands, emphasizing the importance of setting aside time for project updates and thoughtful reviews. If they don’t, the project will drag, stakeholders will feel marginalized when they don’t see the results of their inputs, and/or company priorities will shift, potentially resulting in additional work (and additional fees).
In executing our own rebrand, we did the opposite of this, which is why Defy debuted 02.15.21 rather than, say… in 2019.
We continually hijacked ourselves, back-burnering our own work in favor of client projects. (It was for you guys! We did it all for you!) Honestly, it took a global pandemic to temporarily lighten our client workload and provide us the bandwidth we needed to focus on ourselves. If it wasn’t for COVID-19, the rebrand would probably have taken even longer than it did.
Though it’s tempting to focus on the money-making factions of your company rather than projects that feel more introspective, strong brands add value. Give your rebrand a champion by assigning an internal advocate to shepherd the project. The creative presentation of your business IS your business, and deserves to be treated as such.
Looking back, parts of this process were painful, but we learned from them, and our account services team will be better for it. Now if you’ll excuse me, time to go re-prioritize our outstanding assets….
You always had a choice. Instead of following, you chose to Defy.
As you’ve come to know from our relationship, we always looked to push beyond limits to help our clients create work that stands out from the norm.
Over the last 12 months, we’ve finally gotten around to focusing this same approach on our own agency.
Moving forward, the agency formerly known as [ 2 one 5 ] Creative will go by Defy.
Our new brand name honors the spirit of our beginnings as an artists collective 20 years ago, and lights an exciting path ahead for an agency that continues to grow and evolve.
Together, we look forward to continuing to defy the conventional, limits, and expectations in 2021 and beyond.