Why agency collaboration is not scary

Collaborating successfully with another design agency on a project takes an open approach and a united focus on the outcome to meet your clients’ needs.

When a property client came to us to design and develop digital assets for a new residential London tower, it also had a surprise ask—that we collaborate with another branding agency on the project. In design, adaptability is an asset but while we were used to successfully collaborating with clients, this was our first project partnership with another agency. It was an unexpected evolution, but one we were open to explore.

Collaboration between agencies can be seen as a challenge or an opportunity depending on the lens you’re looking through. Stigma around agencies working together generally rests on insecurity and a scarcity mentality. As an agency you generally want to ‘own’ a project, but working collaboratively means sharing the load—and the plaudits—with two separate responsibilities that must work seamlessly together to create the best outcome for the client. Crucially it cannot be a situation in which one side takes over. Looking at what you are bringing to the project is fundamental, as is seeing it as a creative learning process.

Balance, communication and trust between agencies is key, and in this project these were values our partners very much shared. Early on we discussed the project together, including our goals and approach, and also noted that for agencies such as ours—both with industry leading reputations and impeccable provenance—there would always be enough high-quality work to go round for everyone. Dispensing with any idea that we might somehow be diminished by sharing the limelight and instead focusing on being cohesive and collaborative really set the tone early on.

Our partner agency had already worked on the brand strategy, identity and guidelines for the tower development and the remit for Felix & Friends was to take that work forward into digital design. Our regular meetings together became both an inspiring work space and a social experience, a time to go to each other’s studios and engage, discuss and deliver an exceptional result through a process that was not only effective and enjoyable for us, but a seamless experience for the client too.

From this creative and strategic crucible we were able to create a website that really articulated the brand and its objectives with powerful visual impact. The end result was two happy agencies and a happy client—and for us a memorable experience and even greater understanding of how a well-managed collaboration can enhance a working relationship to add something exceptional to the outcome.

Five keys to collaboration….

Ultimately, as agencies you are both working to the same goal in a situation like this. The aim is to do what is best for the brand and the consumer, and the only real question is, ‘What you can bring to the project and what we can learn from each other?’

See the process as gaining an extension to your team to get more experience, skill and perspectives within the same project. Agencies are experts at what they do, so leveraging an even greater pool of talent and complementary skill can only enhance your offering.

Openness from the outset can break down any barriers, create trust and allay any concerns — when you’re working with another design agency a project becomes an intimate experience and you need it to be an honest one too for it to work well.

There’s a learning arc on every project,  and even more so when you’re collaborating. Sharing complementary skill sets means both agencies can benefit — as well as the client, ultimately.

We did. Because shouldn’t it be fun to work with another talented agency?

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