Realize the full value of your brand at McLean

Brands are built on consumer engagement, meaning that a successful brand has captivated the consumer and enriched their life in some unexpected and enduring way. Powerful brands have that kind of significance built in, delivering a perspective that makes a lasting connection.That’s what we do at McLean.

We use every tool at our disposal to reveal the core meaning of a brand and enhance the consumer's experience beyond the mere utility of a product or service.Realize the full value of your brand at McLean.

CAPABILITIESBrand StrategyPackaging DesignNamingBrand IdentityStructural DesignCollateralPop DisplayProduction Consulting

 

 
$10,000+
 
$150 - $199 / hr
 
10 - 49
 Founded
1991
Show all +
Walnut Creek, CA
headquarters
  • 1889 Mt. Diablo BLVD, STE 200
    Walnut Creek, CA 94596
    United States

Portfolio

Key clients: 

Chevron Chiquita Brands Clorox Coca-Cola Cytosport Gimbal’s Candies Grimmway Farms Hopkins Manufacturing Hormel Kingsford Monster Energy Mothers Polishes & Waxes Nautilus/Bowflex Nestlé Oldcastle Pabst PepsiCo Scotts Miracle-Gro Shell Oil Smithfield Sun-Maid Sunsweet Tree Top WD-40

Reviews

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Packaging Design/Branding for Candy Company

“… it actually felt like I was their only customer.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
Jan. 2017 - May 2018
Project summary: 

McLean designed the product packaging of a wholesale candy company, creating a logo and customer targeting strategy in order to help build a more cohesive brand.

The Reviewer
 
2-10 Employees
 
Clayton, California
Kenney Joyal
Founder, Snowflakes Candy, LLC
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The design work provided by McLean had an immediate impact on their client’s success, securing numerous deals with vendors and delivering invaluable insight into consumer psychology. Their team was extremely attentive, responding promptly to all questions and requests.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the founder and owner of Snowflakes Candy, which is a sugar-free confection company out of Clayton, California.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with McLean?

We were primarily facing packaging concerns. There were a couple of retailers who were interested in carrying the product, but the sticking point was really our previous packaging. McLean was hired to completely redesign that element of our product.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

When we walked into McLean, the conversation was immediately around how to communicate with our target customers. They really went above and beyond in taking our project under their wing and creating an entire brand and logo for us.

They researched our consumer psychology, who our target customer was, and how to target them. They created our sell sheets and our trade show booth. Having all of that come from one place established continuity for our entire brand.

What is the team composition?

I have one primary point of contact on their team, but it really felt like a team effort all the way down. Any time we had a meeting with their team there were 3–4 people ready to talk to us. I really appreciated having multiple points of view in that regard.

How did you come to work with McLean?

We were looking at working with a company out in Colorado but realized we wanted to have a partnership with someone close by so that it would be easier to meet in person. We found McLean online and they are only 15 minutes away from our office, so we set up a meeting just to see how things went. All of their previous work really resonated with what we wanted to do, especially in terms of simplicity, so we went with them.

How much have you invested with them?

In total, we’ve spent around $35,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together in January 2017 and wrapped up in May 2018.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

Once we finished the design work with McLean, we called back a lot of the same companies and retail distributors, and the response was a complete 180. Within the first seven days, we sold 30,000 units and picked up a ton of new vendors and distributors.

We now have brokers and wholesalers cold calling us because they saw the packaging on social media, without even knowing what we’re selling. It has been an absolutely critical pivot for our brand.

How did McLean perform from a project management standpoint?

Their project management was what I was most impressed with. They work with billion-dollar brands so I was worried we might fall pretty low in the pecking order, but it actually felt like I was their only customer. They were always responsive over email, returning my messages within 24 hours. I never felt left behind or forgotten about, and the process felt very seamless the entire way.

The first day we were in there was the coolest part of the process; we went in and talked to them for hours about some of the most minute details of our business, and then they came back to us with a ton of information and a ton of visuals on our competition and customers and how we needed to differentiate ourselves.

What did you find most impressive about them?

The one thing they do incredibly well is understanding the consumer and how to gain their attention. Just because you think something is nice doesn’t mean the end consumer is going to think it’s great.

Are there any areas they could improve?

I can honestly say I’m thrilled with the way everything went. I don’t have anything bad to say.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

My advice is just don’t overthink it. They’re professionals in their space and they know what to do, so give them full reign in the process and you won’t regret it.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Branding for Baking Chocolate Company

"McLean allowed us to underscore priorities and play a serious role in the strategic end of the design process."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
Apr. 2019 - Jun. 2019
Project summary: 

McLean created a brand image for an emerging free trade baking company. In their work, they produced a wide variety of designs for an upcoming product launch with a major general merchandise retailer.

The Reviewer
 
United States
Ryan Close
Brand Manager, Baking Chocolate Company
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Since the launch, the product's performance has exceeded expectations. The team provided a diversity of designs that accurately represented the whimsical nature of the brand, yielding a product that's eye-catching without overwhelming any customers. Their talent and adaptability were highly valued.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am the brand manager of Bake Believe, a new brand producing no-sugar-added baking chocolate. We just launched at Walmart stores across the United States. In my role, I oversee marketing and advertising initiatives as well as new product development and commercialization.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with McLean?

We were looking for someone to help us with branding. Going into a crowded shelf space with some long-standing heavy hitters, our biggest challenge was standing out and engaging our audience in our value add. We wanted to grab the attention of customers passing our products in the store.

In this industry, that two or three seconds of the consumer’s attention makes all the difference in the world. Our goal was to uphold our energic, light-hearted image, but to also convey our care for creating the best possible product.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We challenged McLean with communicating the brand and product image. At the time, we were mentally preparing for our launch at Walmart. When we approached McLean, they had about 8–12 weeks to complete their work.

From a product standpoint, our goal is to bake delicious chocolate. If it isn’t good chocolate, then it isn’t worth it. McLean helped us discover what else is important to our audience of health-minded individuals. Through research, we found that they tend to search out natural products. 

The ingredients make or break a product for them. To stand out, it was important for us to be fair trade, sourcing our chocolate ethically. so that we are sourcing all of those raw chocolate ingredients from small family farms who are getting fair and equitable wages for the work they’re doing. That is important to us as well as the consumer. We also pushed for recyclable packaging to foster a sustainable habit and image.

After talking through those main goals with McLean, they created a list of product attributes that were essential to our image. The next challenge was communicating all of them clearly. Ian (Founder & Creative Director, McLean) and the whole design team did additional infield research, examining the competitive landscape. They focused on getting into the consumer's mindset to inform their designs. 

The final design is fun, whimsical, and isn't being used by anyone else. They thought through our priorities, communicating all the points in a way that wouldn't intimidate the passing customer.

What is the team composition?

We worked with Ian, who operated as a strategic design thread. He brought his experience and provided direction. My main point of contact was Angela (Director of Client Services, McLean). We went through the different rounds together, and she would communicate with the design team. There were 3–4 additional designers working on different elements.

How did you come to work with McLean?

I started by looking at other brands' designs and finding out who created them. I started with a list of 7–10 vendors, narrowing it down based on their capabilities and fit for our project. It ended up being McLean's breadth of design experience and their ability to help new brands win in older categories.

Ian has much more package experience than me. When I had ideas he disagreed with, he would explain his stance. Not many partners do that, so I was convinced they would benefit us when I hired them.

How much have you invested in them?

We spent between $30,000–$40,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We worked on this project with them from April–June 2019.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

We've been on the shelves for 6–7 weeks, and it's been a very successful launch. So far, we're outperforming the majority of our competitors and exceeding our expectations in our Walmart partnership. Our social media following went from zero to thousands within days of being on the shelf. We credit much of that to McLean's differentiated packaging.

McLean did a great job of helping us communicate our unique offering. In fact, we're looking to expand our product selection due to the success we've achieved so far.

How did McLean perform from a project management standpoint?

Deadlines were met, and if there was an issue with the timeline, they made sure to communicate that to us. Angela regularly reached out via email and phone with updates. For the most part, we used a mixture of phone and email for basic communication. However, when we got into reviews, we held Skype conference calls to go over design elements together. Ian would walk through their entire decision-making process for us in realtime.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They were able to adapt their skills to fit our exact needs, style, and desired image. When I first reached out to them, they said they didn't have their own style. It turned out to be true, which was a big positive for us. Their design chops and skills are present across their portfolio, but there aren't many stylistic similarities. They really opened themselves up to our unique setting and brand, delivering a diverse breadth of style options. McLean allowed us to underscore priorities and play a serious role in the strategic end of the design process. 

I also appreciated their problem-solving skills. When handling issues or tight deadlines, they'd come up with a plan B. That proactive attitude was valuable.

Are there any areas they could improve?

I'd love the opportunity for more post-launch check-ins. Otherwise, communication was clear and they were eager to help. We'll definitely be working with them again.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Know your consumer and product. Even if it isn’t extremely differentiated, you need to know why your brand is for your consumer. If you go in without direction on who you are, McLean, like any design firm, will struggle to manage the project. Being able to communicate your expectations and needs is important, no matter the undertaking.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Branding for Food Delivery Service

"McLean successfully created a brand that has a “cool” cachet in the health and fitness industry."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
Mar. - Apr. 2015
Project summary: 

McLean provided 360-degree branding services. They used a process of research and ideation to develop the entire brand for an organic food delivery service from scratch.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Sacramento, California
Greg Connolly
CEO, Trifecta
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The brand has grown dramatically since the engagement began, with an industry-leading position and near to $100M in annual recurring revenue. While their responsiveness and productivity made the process run smoothly, McLean's creativity is what made them such a valuable partner.

The client submitted this review online.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company and your position there.

I’m the founder and CEO of Trifecta, the nation’s largest organic meal delivery service. We operate a large e-commerce platform and a global health and fitness app.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

For what projects/services did your company hire McLean?

I hired McLean to develop an industry-leading brand in the very competitive meal delivery space. 

What were your goals for this project?

I wanted a brand that was strong and evocative.

SOLUTION

How did you select this vendor?

McLean is arguably the best boutique branding agency in the US. They’ve been my go-to branding agency for multiple companies. 

Describe the scope of their work in detail.

McLean developed the entire Trifecta brand. Their brand development process started with research and ideation. They helped us think through how we can ride the wave of different diet trends, such as Paleo and Keto. 

What was the team composition?

Ian (Founder and Creative Director, McLean) was the mastermind behind the project. He also pulled in multiple graphic designers and other branding experts.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Can you share any outcomes from the project that demonstrate progress or success?

Trifecta has grown to become a dominant player in the industry, with almost $100M in annual recurring revenue after only 3.5 years in business. McLean successfully created a brand that has a “cool” cachet in the health and fitness industry. We absolutely love the brand.

How effective was the workflow between your team and theirs?

Their team was incredibly effective. We developed a brand together in a matter of weeks. They were extremely responsive via email. Conference calls and video calls were always productive. Ian's branding process is well thought in its use of mood boards and brand guidelines.

What did you find most impressive about this company?

McLean brings a depth of knowledge on brand development to the table. I've used whiteboards thousands of times across multiple companies, but it doesn’t compare to their process.

Are there any areas for improvement?

No, the project was flawless.

5.0
Overall Score I've used them several times, always with great success.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They were timely and quick.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They're reasonably priced for the quality of the work.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    Their work is the best in the industry.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I've already recommended them several times.

Packaging Designs for Food & Beverage Consultants

“We've received nothing but incredibly positive reactions from both retailers and salespeople to McLean's designs.”

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
2014 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

McLean is one of a few vendors referred to clients for product packaging design needs, as well as naming, production, and printing as needed. 

The Reviewer
 
11- 50 Employees
 
Battle Creek, Michigan
Lucinda Wright
Marketing & Strategy Practice Leader, JPG Resources
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

McLean provides outstanding packaging design work that continues to make clients happy, improving the company's overall reputation as a result. Extremely professional and responsive to client needs, their approach is seamless and their work continues to exceed expectations.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I manage the marketing, sales strategy, and innovation practices at JPG Resources, a startup food and beverage company.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with McLean Design, Inc?

As a consultant to other businesses, McLean is one of three vendors we recommend our clients choose to work with for their packaging design needs.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We provide our clients with three vendors to choose from for product packaging design. Should they choose to work with McLean, we supply the team with a brand brief and work on the strategy separately with the client if needed. McLean's team then scopes out the work and provides at least four creative options for the client to review. After some back and forth to finalize the design, they arrange for production and printing as needed. They also help our clients with product naming should they need it.

What is the team composition?

I usually work with Ian (Founder and Creative Director, McLean Design, Inc.), Rifle (Managing Director, McLean Design, Inc.), and Angela (Senior Project Manager, McLean Design, Inc.). Others may be involved as well depending on the type of project.

How did you come to work with McLean Design, Inc?

As a consultancy company, I'm always searching for agencies that can meet our standards. I believe we came across McLean on BevNET.com—they're a pretty well-known company that's worked with some top brands. We wanted to work with them based on the quality of their work and strategic thinking, as well as their level of professionalism when working with clients, since our reputation is dependent on the vendors we refer to others.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working with them around July 2017 and we continue to refer them to our clients.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

Their results are phenomenal. We've received nothing but incredibly positive reactions from both retailers and salespeople to McLean's designs.

How did McLean Design, Inc perform from a project management standpoint?

Their team is very patient. Our clients can be difficult to work with at times, but McLean's team always handles communication with professionalism and responsiveness. They're not defensive to my own points of view either.

Despite the range of budgets our clients may have, McLean always provides the same level of quality and customer service, which I greatly admire. They stick to their scope of work and, if anything, lose money on their end by going and above and beyond for each project. They genuinely care about project success—I couldn't ask for more from them.

Typically, we collaborate a lot upfront on a project and they'll come back to us within a couple weeks with some great creative options to present. Overall, most projects take around six or so weeks.

What did you find most impressive about them?

While I greatly appreciate their customer-centric approach, the quality of their work is why we ultimately continue to work with them.

Are there any areas they could improve?

They could probably market themselves better to reflect how talented they are.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

McLean is a great team to work with, whether you have a brand strategy or not. However, you're likely to have more success by understanding your industry, what your brand stands for, and what channels you want to compete within.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They're willing to work with smaller budgets more than other agencies.
  • 4.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Branding & Packaging for Natural Sweetener Company

"“We wanted to distinguish our product on the shelf and McLean helped achieve that goal."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
2017
Project summary: 

After creating initial concepts, McLean designed new packaging for a product and assisted with updating the brand. In addition, they handle ongoing advertising projects.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Boulder, Colorado
Mark Maggio
VP, Sales & Marketing, Madhava
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The product was presented at a major trade show and received rave reviews from the public. McLean went above and beyond to meet all needs and deadlines, while their highly-skilled team of designers brought fresh perspectives to the table.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I'm the VP of sales & marketing at Madhava. We produce, market, and sell natural sweeteners in Boulder, CO.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with McLean?

We had some ideas on providing a different type of honey to people, so we needed to design new packaging and update our brand. We had an internal resource, but we were struggling to get satisfactory results through that internal resource. I worked with McLean before, so I reached out to them again.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We spent a couple of hours on the phone with them, discussing our challenges. Then, they came up with six initial concepts, which we reviewed. Our CEO and our internal team loved the new perspective and all of the concepts. After we decided on the final design and made some tweaks, they started working on the design.

They're our agency of record, so they're also doing our advertising and handling other small projects, such as overall company imagery.

What is the team composition?

We worked with our project manager, their founder, and a team of designers.

How did you come to work with them?

We were introduced by a third party in our industry.

How much have you invested with them?

We spent between $25,000–$50,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We worked with them on this project for 12 weeks in 2017.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

We're still in the process of getting the product out into the marketplace, but the feedback from the general public that we got so far has been fantastic. We presented the product at Expo West and everyone loved its look. We wanted to distinguish our product on the shelf and McLean helped achieve that goal.

How did they perform from a project management standpoint?

They met all their deadlines and we never had any issues with them.

What did you find most impressive about them?

We held up the project because our internal resource had a hard time hitting our deadlines, but McLean has been very responsible when it came to deadlines. Also, they had different designers involved in our project and did a great job mixing up different perspectives.

4.5
Overall Score
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Logo & Packaging Design for Bottled Tea Company

“They know how to transform a founder’s vision into something that would get grabbed off the shelf.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
Aug. 2017 - Mar. 2018
Project summary: 

As part of a rebranding initiative, McLean created a new logo and bottle designs. They delivered results in time for a major industry exposition.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Hawaii
Founder, Bottled Tea Company
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The new packaging doubled sales and attracted customers on a national scale. McLean’s team was responsive and adapted well to changing timelines. They translated requirements into appealing designs, to the extent that they've been assigned additional projects.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the co-founder and president of a ready-to-drink bottled iced tea company.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with McLean?

We hired them to do a rebrand that could compete outside our home market. Our goal was to create a distinctive and iconic brand, something that would resonate with consumers even if they weren’t from Hawaii. Up until now, we’ve only been available to local retailers.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

McLean designed all of the bottles and refined our logo. We launched four new bottles on our website in March, in time for the Natural Products Expo West 2018.

What is the team composition?

Our day-to-day communication was with their managing director and senior project manager. Their founder was also available for larger calls and ideations.

How did you come to work with McLean?

Someone from the food and beverage industry recommended them. I also met McLean’s managing director when I was a finalist at an industry competition.

How much have you invested with them?

We spent $30,000–$40,000 on these projects.

What is the status of this engagement?

We worked together from August 2017 until March 2018. We’re now working with them on another project because we had such a great experience the first time.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

The new brand is resonating with a nationwide market. People love the new brand and say that it’s easier to find. Our first label had a black background, which made it hard to see on a shelf. Now, it has a lighter, bamboo look that pops out more. As a result, our May 2018 sales are double that of last year’s.

How did McLean perform from a project management standpoint?

They were awesome and did more than what was required to hit deadlines. They were accommodating about our ever-changing schedule and responsive to our needs.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They are expert designers — they know how to transform a founder’s vision into something that would get grabbed off the shelf. I think that choosing food and beverage products is an emotional and experiential process, so I appreciated the fact that McLean took the time to listen. I enjoyed working with them.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Brand Expression & Packaging Solutions for Food Cooperative

"The quality of the work is high and their turnaround is good."

Quality: 
4.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Feb. 2014 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

McLean provides brand expression and packaging services, working on aluminum can and pouch package printing, as well as the brand's strategic vision.

The Reviewer
 
1,001-5,000 Employees
 
Selah, Washington
Bryce Godfrey
Director of Marketing, Tree Top, Inc.
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Their deliverables are always excellent, whether the project in question is large or small. They meet deadlines, adhere to the timeline at all times, and keep within budget limits, while always listening carefully and being attentive to the specific project requirements.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I'm the director of marketing for Tree Top, a grower-owned cooperative that produces apple juice and applesauce.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with McLean?

We needed ongoing improvement of our overall expression and packaging for the food cooperative.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

It's very hard to get good quality print on aluminum cans, so we were looking for someone with experience that could do a good job for us. We were also launching applesauce in a pouch which was a new print medium. They printed on film—we had several flavors and different architecture that needed to be taken into account to make it work.

They have a strategic vision for the branding and the architecture of the packaging design to make sure we were communicating to the consumer what we needed to communicate, as well as differentiating across the broader portfolio.

What is the team composition?

We worked with four to six people from their team. We had a day-to-day contact with a couple of designers.

How did you come to work with McLean?

They were on a shortlist of people we put out an RFP to. Their price was a consideration. They're not a huge agency, but big enough to create a good quality product without the overheads pushing up the cost. We felt like they were a good fit for us and our budget. It's always important to have a good fit in terms of the personality and the people you are working with, and they felt like a good cultural fit for us.

How much have you invested in them?

We've spent between $75,000–$100,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We began working with them in February 2014 and the relationship is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

They're so good to work that we send more business their way. We originally would only go to them for the larger projects, but since we found that they're so good to work with and have a quick turnaround, we started using them for smaller projects too. The quality of the work is high and their turnaround is good. We've been really happy with them.

How did McLean perform from a project management standpoint?

Their project management is one of the biggest reasons we've used them and continue to go back to them. They're good at laying out the timelines for the project, they always hit their deadlines, and they help keep us on track. They've been excellent in that regard.

We mostly communicated through email. The person from our team who works with them is in contact at least weekly, if not more, depending on the needs of the project.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They're good listeners. They listen to what our needs are and do their best to try to meet or exceed what we've asked them to do. Rather than just being wildly creative and making things look pretty, they actually listen to what the client needs, which is something I really appreciate about them.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

They're good at communicating, but you need to make sure you can communicate with them as well as they do with you. Tell them what you need, when you need it, and be clear on what your expectations are­—they will rise to the occasion.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They always stick to the budget.
  • 4.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Print Design for Wine Company

“Virtually every new brand that we've developed with McLean has been successful.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Mar. 2011 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

McLean provides branding and design services for various products, working closely with clients and partners. They also help prepare required documents for tax approval as needed.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
California
Doug Walker
President, Plata Wine Partners
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

McLean delivers thoughtful, modern designs that help brands succeed in the market. Across the board, clients and competitors alike have been very impressed by their work. They follow up and follow through on all project milestones, delivering high-quality work that's always on time.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I'm the president and a partner at Plata Wine Partners. We produce wines for major retailers and are based in Napa, Calif.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with McLean?

When I joined the company, we wanted to freshen up some of the branding for the wines we provide to our retailers. 

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Typically, we'll meet with McLean's team for a brand briefing to go over our target audience and other details. They'll collaborate with us to engage our customer in joint meetings and brainstorming sessions to present concepts before any final decisions are made.

Their team then designs our labels and shipping carton packaging and provides some of the copy on the back of each label. They also help prepare the required materials and information we need to submit for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for approval.

What is the team composition?

I typically work with four or five people on their team, including a business manager, a couple designers, and Ian (Founder and Creative Director, McLean).

How did you come to work with McLean?

I had worked with McLean at another company and I really liked their work, so I brought them on. I felt that other design firms weren't as exciting or modern.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working with them in March 2011 and the relationship is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

Although we work with another firm as well, we give the majority of our design work to McLean. Our company and clients have been very happy with their work across the board. They've been great about engaging some of our key customers, which has empowered them to take more ownership of brands.

Virtually every new brand that we've developed with McLean has been successful. One of the brands they designed, for example, sold 50,000 cases in Hawaii within just six months. I've even received positive feedback from our competitors, who have commented on McLean's quality design work.

How did McLean perform from a project management standpoint?

I have no trouble getting in touch with them and their follow up is excellent. They manage their time well and always hit deadlines. I also get the feeling they enjoy working with us, so it's been a great experience overall.

What did you find most impressive about them?

I think the world of their team. We were just awarded a bunch of new projects that I wouldn't consider working with another vendor on. They execute well and their follow up is immediate.

Are there any areas they could improve?

I can't think of a single criticism.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Providing as much information about your brand as possible is very helpful, including your target audience, goals, etc. Communication is also key. Their team does a great job of working closely with you to brainstorm and come up with design solutions, so I definitely recommend sitting down with them take advantage of that.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They put together a budget for each project and stay on course.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Branding, Packaging, & Logo for Gluten-Free Food Producer

"They have innovative designs in the marketplace, which is easy to see by looking at their portfolio."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
Jul. - Oct. 2016
Project summary: 

McLean redesigned the logo, branding, and packaging, finding an innovative way to distinguish the product on shelves. They had total creative freedom and produced several concepts to choose from.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Columbus, Ohio
Founder, The Toasted Oat
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The out-of-the-box packaging and unique image they created has boosted the brand, increasing store acceptance by 600%. McLean is not only punctual, responsive, and friendly but also extremely talented at producing distinctive branding and packaging concepts.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the founder and CEO of The Toasted Oat Bakehouse, a manufacturer of a gluten-free natural granola product.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with McLean?

We were beginning a full brand and packaging redesign. This involved changing our actual containers, as well as having our logo updated.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We had been using a closed container before, with no visibility of the product. It was important to have some type of packaging that allowed consumers to see what’s inside. Also, our branding didn’t accurately represent our company ethos. We wanted to relay to the consumer that we had a clean label and a natural artisan product, speaking to the pure, pantry-style ingredients we use to create our product.

The first iteration of our packaging redesign was done internally. After that, we shared a brand positioning document with McLean, giving them the creative freedom to come back with whatever their imaginative brains produced. They brought to the table about a dozen concepts to choose from, all following our requirements but different from one another. It was actually hard to choose.

What is the team composition?

Rifle (Managing Director, McLean) was our primary contact on their side in charge of handling any project management issues. I had a marketing advisor on my team and the three of us would connect whenever necessary to touch base on progress. Rifle had three to four people on his team working on the project.

How did you come to work with McLean?

I looked at three vendors in total. Someone referred McLean to me and it seemed like they really understood our brand positioning. The other brands in their portfolio spoke highly of their execution capabilities. There was also an overall chemistry that helped.

How much have you invested with them?

The overall cost of the work—including a separate logo design on top of the packaging design—was $30,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We worked with McLean during July–October 2016.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

Their work has had a very strong impact on our brand. We launched the new packaging in April–May 2017 and our store acceptance increased by 600%, which is consistent until today. The overall feedback from buyers has been very positive on the actual design itself.

Our brand now stands out in the granola category. It’s a soft-baked product that has a similar texture and taste of an oatmeal cookie. It was important for us to relay that at the shelf level since consumers are used to dry, crunchy granola.

I made it clear to McLean that, even though the product tasted like a cookie, I didn’t want the outside of the package to mention that. They came up with a window that looks like a circle with a bite taken out of it. It looks like a cookie to someone standing in front of a shelf, but it’s just the shape of a window. It’s a playful part of the design and buyers really love it. McLean stepped out of the box to come up with that concept.

How did McLean perform from a project management standpoint?

As a brand owner, it’s normal to always want the work done faster, however, McLean met their deadlines just fine.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They’re great to work with, responsive, personable, and very creative. If someone has a unique product and is looking for a way to deliver their message through the packaging, McLean will figure out a way to do it. They have innovative designs in the marketplace, which is easy to see by looking at their portfolio.

Do you have any advice for future clients of theirs?

I would ensure that the team has all the information necessary to start and finish a project, including objectives and timelines. Not being organized upfront and giving them what they need can lead to a lot of back and forth.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Branding & Packaging Design for Beverage Company

"They were very easy to work with and we had a very positive relationship."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Jul. 2016 - Mar. 2018
Project summary: 

McLean proposed design elements and developed designs for all canned products. They also provided overall marketing services by advising on brand positioning and strategic direction.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Toronto, Canada
Marketing Manager, Beverage Company
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Internal staff has praised the new designs and consumers, new and old, increased their purchasing intent—increasing predicted sales. McLean's ability to deliver high-quality designs and expert strategic planning make them a valuable long-term partner. 

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am the marketing manager for a refreshment business with high profile brands.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenges were you trying to address with McLean?

We have a top cider brand across Canada and were in a very comfortable place. Competitors soon came in and our market share was eroding. We saw that we needed to do something different, especially to market towards millennials that were making up a large amount of growth and 30% of consumers.

We wanted to relook at our brand positioning, packaging, and renovation the brand. We wanted to ensure that it's appealing to the younger consumer without eliminating our current customer, which is an older consumer. We knew it was going to be a tough challenge and keeping our current consumer was very important.

We found in our preliminary consumer research that millennial consumers prefer the canned format instead of bottles. We needed that change within our portfolio, but we found a lot of difficulties getting our artwork onto the aluminum substrate. We needed an expert on that.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

They started with involving themselves in our focus groups in Vancouver and Toronto. Then, their president gave advice on our positioning statements and future strategic direction.

They proposed design elements, mapped out competitive stats, and researched on which part of the market we could thrive in. Their team produced the master format and mechanical key elements for our canned designs. Due to their expertise, we decided they would be responsible for the development of all our canned product designs. They personally flew up to our pilot and press runs for our canned products to oversee the development.

What is the team composition?

They provided one product manager, a managing director, one designer, and the president for mainly the strategic portion. They provided expertise depending on what we were executing.

How did you come to work with McLean?

We sent out an RFP and three agencies pitched to us. McLean impressed us with their knowledge and portfolio—experience with a high-profile beverage company. They were very strategic in their proposal.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started the engagement in July 2016 and ended it in March 2018.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

I think it’s still a bit early, but our internal team was shocked and amazed at how good our new designs were. We were presenting our sales meetings and national retail meetings with the new designs across the country and everyone was astounded with our drastic change—in a very positive way.

From a consumer standpoint, we really valued that our new packaging design was able to hold purchase intent with our current consumers, but also able to increase purchase intent from consumers that don’t buy our product.

We are seeing an overall positive impact, and our forecasting department is predicting an increase in our over-the-counter sales.

How did McLean perform from a project management standpoint?

They were very easy to work with and we had a very positive relationship. Their product manager worked very closely with us and they delivered everything on time according to our timeline. My only challenge was the differing time zones, but that wasn’t their fault.

What did you find most impressive about them?

Not only did McLean execute great designs, their strategic thinking was very valuable. We felt that they were really a partner versus just an agency.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Try to involve them early. Have them entrenched in understanding the market in your different regions. Have them actually come out to see your market locations and understand your brand’s positioning. That’s how you’ll help them deliver winning packaging design.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    We have a small budget for our project, which is the only reason this is a four.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I've talked about them non-stop to everyone.