It’s that time of year when you start to see lists of reflections from the past year in hopes of being more successful at whatever you do in 2017.

Here’s our list of observations we gleaned over the course of 2017. As we look back — with both pride and pain — over various experiences this past year, we hope our list inspires you and your team to make 2018 an awesome year for your business!

1. PEOPLE DON’T KILL IDEAS. FEAR KILLS IDEAS.
It’s been our experience that fear of change or the unknown can be the biggest obstacle to creativity and innovation. Don’t blame clients who kill ideas. Find the source of fear that’s driving their actions and do what you can to neutralize the fear. Fear is highly corrosive.

2. SUCCESSFUL REBRANDING OF A COMPANY HAPPENS FROM THE TOP DOWN, NOT THE MIDDLE UP.
We’ve consistently seen that it’s very difficult to successfully land a rebrand if you don’t actively engage leaders at the C-level. If you’re in the C-Suite, we suggest you get involved. It’s your future that hangs in the balance. Besides, leaders are pretty much paid to lead, right?

3. WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING, IT’S REALLY HARD TO GET THERE.
Before you start burning time and resources on a branding project, make sure the client team has a clear vision of where it wants to go. If they don’t, help them figure it out. If they are unable to produce one early on in the process, walk away.

4. IF YOU KEEP CHANGING, YOU’LL ALWAYS BE CHASING.
Things get a lot clearer once you’re able to put a stake in the ground and decide who you are and why it’s important. If your team struggles to define its identity, you will forever be chasing after what other people are doing. Don’t be afraid to figure out your authentic self as a company.

5. COMPANIES THAT ARE DEFINING THE FUTURE AREN’T DOING SO BASED ON INTELLECT. THEY’RE DOING SO ON THEIR WILLINGNESS TO EMBRACE CHANGE.
We work with some incredibly smart clients. World-class business people with B-school pedigrees. That said, the deciding factor in why one company succeeds and another crashes and burns is that leadership is able to build a vision and make change work for them. It’s an awesome time for smart and daring companies to be in business.

6. A FEW BAD CLIENTS. A FEW BAD HIRES. A FEW BAD HABITS.
The obstacles that can ultimately trip up agencies or any company can be insidious. In talking to colleagues from various industries, we heard that choosing the wrong client (for the wrong reasons), hiring the wrong people, and picking up bad habits in workflow or culture-building make it hard for an agency to build momentum or avert disaster. Pay attention to these key areas and you’re more likely to keep your new year steaming along.

We hope you find these quick reflections helpful and they move you in the right direction in 2018. Good luck and smart branding!