Customer Stories The Brand Leader

How The Brand Leader™ ditched its disparate tools and conquered operational chaos

How The Brand Leader™ ditched its disparate tools and conquered operational chaos
Company Name
The Brand Leader™
Digital Marketing Agency
Greenville, South Carolina

The Brand Leader™, a creative advertising agency based in Greenville, South Carolina, is about more than just exceptional work — the agency aims to make a positive impact on the people and brands they partner with. “We have six core values here at The Brand Leader™, and the first one is People First," said Kyle Duford, president and executive creative director. “If you put people first and you hit their needs… well, then the missteps are few and far between.”

It’s an idea that has served The Brand Leader well for over 20 years. In that time, they’ve partnered with clients like PowerBar, Denny’s, Erem, and many more.

But while a value-driven mission may have come naturally, the right toolset did not. For years, The Brand Leader™ worked with an ever-shifting collection of project management and operations tools that created inefficiencies and limited their growth. When they started growing fast, their ad-hoc tool stack became a problem they couldn’t ignore.

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More tools, more problems

Finding the right tools is a quintessential challenge for growing agencies. In The Brand Leader's early days, they grabbed whatever software they thought would work for their current projects and staff. “We had to keep changing the tools to meet the demand,” said Kyle.

It was a recipe for chaos. “We had just a plethora of tools that no one actually knew what they were for,” Kyle said. His colleague Chris Heuvel, creative director, added, “Really your project management system was your account manager who was sitting about six feet away from you.”

The Brand Leader™ was taking on more and more complicated work, and staffing up. Its leaders agreed that their jumble of solutions wouldn’t work forever. “We knew that as we grew we had to grow for scale with our tools themselves,” Kyle said, “and so very quickly we understood that you can’t make changes when you’re 15, 20, 25 people as easily as you can when you’re half that size.”

The Brand Leader™ needed a more permanent solution, one that would grow with them and be able to handle their work’s expanding complexity.

“We ended up moving to Asana because that just seemed like the obvious answer,” said Kyle. “But then Asana, by adding all of our licenses, ended up becoming cost-prohibitive as we grew.” It didn’t have the time tracking capabilities The Brand Leader™ needed, either. They added a third-party time tracking tool, which bumped their cost per user up to a number that was, in Kyle’s words, “Absurd.”

A colleague turned Kyle and his team on to They liked its client work-specific features — like super granular built-in time tracking — and they liked that it was built by agency people. “They not only knew what we needed, but they understood the pain points as well,” Kyle said.

With high hopes and a growing workload, The Brand Leader™ canceled its Asana subscription and made the switch to

By making the move, Kyle says the company has saved more than $17,000 each year. "Even if the tool sucked—and thankfully it's everything but—it was a no-brainer."

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"A major game changer"

It quickly became obvious that The Brand Leader's days of hopping from tool to tool were over. “This was really the first time business-wide that we had the opportunity to choose a tool that we knew we could grow into at scale,” Kyle said, “rather than just use as a stopgap solution for the size we were at the time.” The team, he added, was relieved, too. “We don’t have to flip again in a year! Or when we double again!”’s project management and time-tracking suited The Brand Leader’s initial needs, but the platform really started to click when they learned they could use it to understand and optimize their performance across projects and clients.

Chris Heuvel, who runs the design group at The Brand Leader™, said, “The very first time that I realized that Teamwork was going to be a major game changer for us… was when I discovered the planning tab.”

Suddenly, Chris could see not only what his team was working on that day, but what they’d be working on next week, next month, or next quarter. He could easily reprioritize work and make informed decisions about his team’s bandwidth for taking on new projects. “That clarity was just game-changing.”

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"The right tool to run our business"

It’s hard to imagine life at The Brand Leader™ without “Now, every project we have goes through Teamwork,” Kyle said. “Everyone has access to it, and we’re still finding really cool, innovative tools within the program itself that surprise and delight people like me and other leaders all day long.”

The Brand Leader™ uses the budgeting feature to understand financial performance by project or team, and see how they’re tracking against budget. “By understanding our cost centers and the cost per person per project, we’re now more profitable and more efficient,” Kyle said. “And when I saw that happen, that’s when we really knew — this thing’s not only sticky for us, but it’s the right tool to run our business.”

The budgeting and profitability features, capacity planning, and project health reports have freed their leadership up to focus on other problems. “We’re now able to take our eye off a lot of those particular issues and focus on other issues in the business to help grow to scale,” Kyle said.

It’s also helped The Brand Leader™ focus on what they care about most — their people. “It really creates collaboration between the teams,” Chris said, “but also collaboration with our clients as well, giving them that clarity to know what’s coming and building that roadmap for them.”

The Brand Leader™ finally has a single tool to help them deliver great client work, stay profitable, and scale their business. And they’re not switching any time soon. “Everyone,” Chris said, “literally everyone in the building uses Teamwork.”