How rebranding my business scared the shit out of me

Branding / 08.06.18
Mark Vaesen

There are times in your business life when certain things stay the same for a long time.

You tread the path you’ve chosen, working in a way that’s familiar and well-honed, and you feel comfortable.

Then there are times when massive changes happen.

The last twelve months for me has definitely been the latter.

The Rut

In January 2018, Tomango was five years old. The business had always been stable and profitable, and we’d enjoyed steady if unspectacular growth. We’d worked with some great clients on some really good projects. 80% of the time, I loved running my business.


I wanted – no, I knew – that things could be better.

I still worried when we hadn’t had any new projects in for a few weeks, wondering whether it was just another temporary dip or the start of an actual decline that would end with me and my family broke and on the streets. And although I knew we could deliver outstanding work, there was an increasingly strong niggle that we should be moving up a level.

But the thing that tipped the balance was when, in the space of a few months, we found ourselves involved in two of the shittiest projects you could imagine, with the most awkward, disrespectful clients we’d ever had.

During that time, whenever the phone rang and we’d see it was that client, the whole mood in the studio sank through the floor.

Morale was rock bottom. It nearly destroyed the team.

And I was in danger of falling out of love with my business.

Something had to change.

I vowed from that point on that we weren’t going to take on any old project just to pay the bills. As the person in charge of new business, it was down to me to get a grip and have the balls to say no to something – or someone – that wasn’t the right fit for us.

The Change

Two significant things happened in 2017 that set us on our journey.

In April we started working with the brilliant and wonderful Julia Chanteray. With her help, over the next nine months, we identified what we wanted Tomango to be, what we were good at, who we wanted to work with and how we were going to get there.

We reviewed our positioning, our marketing strategy, our pricing, and most of our processes.

The business began to take on a much better shape.

Then in July, I attended a workshop put on by the guys at Clearleft featuring the amazing force of nature that is Blair Enns.

Blair’s business is called Win Without Pitching, and he’s on a mission to change the way people buy design, and working with him made me see a completely new way to find and win the sort of business we wanted. In terms of long term impact and return on investment, it was probably the best £500 I’ve ever spent.

The outcome is that we’ve completely changed our approach to how we serve our clients to give them more value for money, and how we go about winning new clients who need our help.

The Rebrand

Having figured out what we needed to do to get to where we wanted to go, we had to go about rebranding Tomango.

Like a lot of agencies, we find rebranding our own business harder than rebranding a client.

It’s taken a long time, but on 1st May 2018 we made our new website live.

It’s very different to what went before. We’ve taken our own advice that we give to clients and focused our message completely around our customers and what they need. Egos have been put to one side.

It’s not been easy, but without a doubt this website, and the wider rebrand, represents exactly what Tomango is now all about.

I want to send out a big heart-felt thank you to every one of the hard-working team at Tomango for doing such a great job helping to shape our future.

The Feeling

Changing our positioning has challenged me personally, taken me right out of my comfort zone and sometimes just plain scared the shit out of me.

I’ve had to completely rethink the way I’ve previously (and with some success) gone about winning new business. It’s been a steep learning curve and I’ve had to conquer self-doubt, and some sleepless nights, when things haven’t gone quite according to plan.

But it was the right thing to do. And sometimes the right thing to do is the hardest thing to do.

We’ve grown up. We’re more comfortable in our own skins.

And I’ve fallen in love with my business all over again.