How to manage a huge client

UK design studio Koto has shot to success impressively quickly since it launched in 2015. It has rapidly built its reputation on the global design scene, and managed to snag 11th place in the Computer Arts Studio Rankings this year (you can find out more about that here). The studio's ascent was kick-started when Coca-Cola entrusted it with a global rebrand of Fanta, and since then it has worked with the likes of Airbnb, Gumtree and PayPal.

Client manager Katey-Jean Harvey handles Koto’s Coca-Cola and Airbnb accounts, and knows that multinational companies require a special touch. Here, she shares her tips for working with huge clients and keeping complex projects running like clockwork.

01. Use time differences to your advantage

Foreign Fanta logo

Koto's Fanta rebrand was a complex challenge

Koto’s global rebrand of Coca-Cola-owned Fanta required a complex account management process that ranged from the main rebrand to myriad detail-orientated, research-heavy smaller tasks, like what a logo looks like in Thai or Arabic, or on a tiny label versus a massive billboard.

“It’s very much a case of being a collaborator,” says Harvey. “We speak constantly on Google Hangouts, and it’s like: ‘What can we do to help you get what you need?’ We know they’re moving at a million miles an hour behind the scenes, so we use our time difference to our advantage, and make sure they wake up and have files when they need them.”

02. Embrace the chaos

“No two days are the same, which could be a problem for some people,” admits Harvey. “Although some people quite like the regularity of a day-to-day job, I prefer the chaotic moments: juggling lots of different things at any given time is a really satisfying challenge.

“You’re essentially a translator, and a diplomat at times – for me, that’s the most rewarding part: seeing the chaotic messages come through, and translating them into design. That’s how I get my kicks.”

03. Build relationships – and not just with the bosses

“With more stakeholders involved, you may have to go through a political minefield to get answers, which slows things down,” admits Harvey. “You need to know when to respect the timeline; when to ease off and ride the wave so it doesn’t stress you out.”

Although many challenges between large and small clients are similar, she points out that the larger the client-side team you’re working with, the more time you need to invest in building relationships.

“Obviously you’ve got the CEOs and the people on a higher level, but make sure you make good contacts with people like producers, developers and designers too,” is her advice. “Make yourself an extended part of their team on all levels.”

This article was originally published in Computer Arts, the world's best-selling design magazine. Buy issue 274 or subscribe.

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Nick Carson

Nick is a content strategist and copywriter. He has worked with world-class agencies including Superunion, Wolff Olins and Vault49 on brand storytelling, tone of voice and verbal strategy for global brands such as Virgin, Pepsi and TikTok. Nick launched the Brand Impact Awards in 2013 while editor of Computer Arts, and remains chair of judges. He's written for Creative Bloq on design and branding matters since the site's launch.