Agile development needn’t apply only to software. Thanks to a lean, collaborative and iterative approach, we partnered with LoopUp to transform their brand, product, website and marketing collateral, all in under 3 months. By successfully extending the application of agile methodologies beyond development, we ensured a quick solution that also resulted in quality.
The engagement with LoopUp (formerly Ring2) embodied all of the best practices of Agile Design:
- A small, actively engaged, multidisciplinary team
- A highly collaborative and iterative process
- Working sessions in place of “presentations” and “deliverable reviews”
- Flexibility, from the team members of our studio and LoopUp throughout the process
- Lots and lots of communication — daily
Ring2 had several problems. Their brand was tired, boring and unflattering. In many ways it was exactly what people might expect from a mid-market company in the conference calling space; a vertical that is almost universally thought of as a commodity service with no meaningful differentiators except price.
The good news was that Ring2’s product was anything but ordinary. It is unlike any conference-calling product on the market. It transforms the way people start, join and manage their conference calls. In fact, once people see it, it practically sells itself. The problem is no one was seeing it unless a sales rep making cold calls was able to provide a live demo.
The Set Up
To solve this problem, Ring2 committed to a radical brand pivot. They decided on a new name, “LoopUp”, and looked for a creative firm that could build a solid brand around that name. But they had PR commitments coming up fast, so they needed a new logo, tagline, messaging, voice, tone, website, product re-skin and core product collateral completed in about 10 weeks.
In our first meeting with LoopUp’s VP of Marketing, I think she could tell we were laughing (not out loud, but she could still tell) at the aggressive schedule being requested. In an attempt to clarify the challenge, we pointed out all of the things that would be required of LoopUp in order to meet that kind of a schedule. But she was committed. She grew more enthusiastic and convinced us that her team was ready, willing and excited to work with Spring Studio to make this happen. So we got started right away.
From day 1, LoopUp’s founders, Marketing VP, Marketing Director and Product Director were all heavily involved and empowered to make quick, lasting decisions. At least 3 of those core team members were at our offices for working sessions 2 – 3 times per week, and there were dozens of phone calls, emails and Basecamp postings every day. Spring Studio’s team included one Principal serving as the Experience Architect, The Creative Director, an Art Director, a User Experience Designer and a Copywriter/Content Strategist.
In order to meet the aggressive timeline, we divided the project into components:
- Messaging / Voice Strategy
- Website IA/UX
- Website Visual Design
- Marketing Video
- Product Re-skin
- Collateral Design
In order to condense the schedule and ensure high quality work, we aggressively applied agile methodologies, regardless of the component at hand. We kicked off with intensive working sessions with our clients’ stakeholders. We developed concurrent work streams that not only helped save time but also allowed different work streams to influence one another. Our client met with us daily as an extension of our team to solve problems and make decisions on the spot. We sketched, evaluated, iterated and finessed.
About 10 weeks after the project kickoff meeting, LoopUp launched, with an immediate media blitz on its heels. The redesigned website was live with the marketing video on the home page. The new product apps were being downloaded. Prospective and existing clients received new Welcome Kits introducing them to the new brand. And the team at LoopUp helped ensure this was pulled off seamlessly.
The Key to Success
We had a lot of fun during this project, and learned a lot. Below are some of our key takeaways about running an agile design project:
- Focus more on defining the process and people who will be responsible for it upfront, and less on defining exactly what will be produced. Scoping deliverables is still important, to the extent they can be defined at the start of the project, but things will inevitably change. If you want to stay on track, you need to define how you will deal with changes quickly and efficiently. We did this by having all of the LoopUp decision makers in face-to-face meetings with us multiple times per week. As issues arose, we identified, discussed and resolved them as a single team. We negotiated in real time, face-to-face, which built trust throughout the assignment.
- Treat all meetings as group problem-solving sessions, not merely presentations, reviews, approval meetings, etc. Everything presented should either be approved in the meeting, or specific issues identified and specific actions and responsibilities assigned to handle those issues, with input from everyone who has a say in the matter provided during the session.
- Identify the need for changes in direction and communicate them immediately. For example, after the first working session on the video storyboards, the whole team had agreed to a certain direction. When our internal team held a follow-up meeting, and dove deeper into the story, we changed our minds and felt strongly that the story needed to be told in a completely different way. We quickly sketched out the new proposed story and presented it to LoopUp the next day and, in that session, the team worked through the changes and gained alignment once again.