We’re talking about Shark Tank, the tough love reality show where entrepreneur-contestants have a chance to pitch their product ideas to a panel of investors to secure funding.
In the spring of 2014, the team from Oru Kayak contacted us with a distinctive challenge. Their problem was one of the “nice to have” variety. While they had been steadily building a brand presence since their Kickstarter launch in 2012, an appearance on Shark Tank (one that would generate tons of interest and exposure whether they managed to secure a Shark’s funding or not) could fully ignite their mainstream success. The problem was that their current eCommerce website would likely break under the weight of so many new visitors.
Their challenge for us was twofold: overhaul their eCommerce website so it would be able to handle a large influx of traffic, and launch it with a new design, updated features, and improved UX workflow functionality within three weeks. Yes, you read that right—three weeks.
Through massive amounts of hard work, cooperation, and caffeine-fueled late nights, the new Oru Kayak eCommerce site launch went off without a hitch. And as we viewed the real-time site analytics along with the airing of Shark Tank (and toasted our shared success over a lot of few beers), our team pondered how we got so lucky. After all, there’s probably nothing more fulfilling for an agency than partnering with a client whose trust in us is exceeded only by their commitment to working together to create awesome stuff.
Working with Oru Kayak helped to remind us what can happen when “client” and “agency” stop acting as two separate forces and, instead, work together as a team. Here are 3 key elements that made it possible.
All client/agency relationships require a certain amount of trust in order to be productive and successful. Clients need to be able to trust that their agency will provide quality work and respect the brand and vision; an agency needs to trust that their client will communicate honestly and respect the expertise of the team. When trust is lacking on either side, communication is often the first thing to break down—and once that goes, a smooth and rewarding process for everyone becomes increasingly more difficult.
When both agency and client work together as a team and trust each other to be a part of something greater—that’s magic.
For Oru Kayak, the stakes couldn’t have been higher; time was the enemy, steadily pushing toward a pivotal make-or-break moment for their brand. Because of this, the Oru Kayak team needed to put their trust in an agency that not only had the technical chops to get the work done (with nimble expertise), but that could also deliver an experience that captured the spirit and potential of the brand itself. Their brand image—one that hundreds of thousands of visitors would be experiencing for the first time, at the same time—was on the line. It was their trust in our ability, and their eagerness to provide feedback, information, and assets as quickly as possible, that laid the foundation we needed to work to the best of our potential.
A Shared Vision
Imagine being in a three-legged race with someone and each of you are running toward different goals. Eventually, after a bit of struggle, one of you might end up at the goal you were aiming for, but the other party is bound to be discouraged and disappointed about it. That’s what it’s like when client and agency teams can’t embrace a single vision to work toward.
Communication and honesty is critical here, and it requires that both sides define realistic goals, agree on a comprehensive breakdown of work to be done, and remain open to course correction. In our experience, enthusiasm is contagious; when agency and client teams have done the work to get on the same page, each success and failure becomes personal to everyone involved, and that’s what helps deliver results that matter. With a tight deadline looming, the enthusiasm of a shared purpose is what gave the Oru Kayak and Lucid Fusion teams the determination to push hard until the very last second—and it’s what made the resulting success that much more meaningful.
No project exists in a vacuum. The influence of stakeholders, visionaries, creatives, and technical experts is necessary for defining goals and developing a process to achieve them; it’s reconciling the perspectives of these various influences that can get tricky. Teamwork—that is, a genuine understanding that we’re all on the same quest to deliver outstanding work—is what gives everyone a voice and a way to contribute.
Ultimately, both agencies and clients have one thing in common: by project’s end, they expect to see the best work possible.
In order for us to meet the three-week deadline, the Oru Kayak team moved their operations into Lucid Fusion HQ and worked right alongside us. This provided an environment of continuous, real-time feedback that enabled us to troubleshoot, innovate quickly, and resolve issues on the fly as a team. While this setup isn’t practical for every client or project, the basic principle of teamwork is universal: the more we support each other and understand that we’re on the same side, the better we’ll be able to accomplish amazing things.
Every project that comes in starts with a huge vision which (at least at the start) can be different from client to agency. But when both sides work together as a team and trust each other to be a part of something greater—that’s magic. And the results are often equally as magical. Ultimately, both agencies and clients have one thing in common: by project’s end, they expect to see the best work possible. Trust, vision, and teamwork are what help to make that a reality.
Want to know more about the fruits of this collaboration? Click the button below to download From Box to Boat: the Oru Kayak Case Study, or visit our work section.