Last week, we talked about what triggered our brand refresh and my vision and goals for the process. This week, we’re diving deep into how we accomplished the refresh. Let’s get specific!
Step 1: Crafting our Message
I knew I needed to start with messaging. Messaging would solve my immediate problem of not always knowing how to talk about what I did or the business I was building, and it would impact everything else we’d do as Raven Creative going forward.
Up until this point, my business was just me. I had collaborated with colleagues here and there to deliver on projects, but I had really been a one-woman show. I couldn’t delegate to anyone, and I knew if I was really going to create an actionable business plan, I had to find accountability to help me execute it.
So, I called on Alli, a friend and former colleague of mine, to help me get started with my message. Alli had just become a stay-at-home-mom, and was looking to both start a business of her own and stay connected to the work she had done pre-baby. We met at a coffee shop, and I started telling her my story – the highs, the lows, the opportunities, and where I thought I was hitting a wall.
Alli suggested we work through a messaging exercise together that would dissect all of the talking points I was sharing with her. This would help me slow down and organize all of the thoughts, ideas, fears, and goals that had been floating around in my head for the last few years.
Together, we worked through a long set of questions and conversation starters, keeping an eye out for key phrases, trends, and patterns.
Then, we started arranging all of the messages we had compiled into categories:
- A key, focus message
- Challenges our clients face
- The opportunity that exists for us
- Ways we deliver
- The payoff – what our clients experience from working with us
As we dropped each of our notes into the different buckets, a narrative started to emerge.
Developing the narrative was a critical part of the exercise we had been working on, because that’s what was going to resonate with my audience. Whether it was the stranger at Starbucks or the prospect on the other end of the phone, we were developing a story that potential clients could relate to, rather than a set of muddy, jargon-filled talking points.We were developing a story that potential clients could relate to, rather than a set of muddy, jargon-filled talking points. Click To Tweet
Together, we built a Message Guidebook that included a visual diagram that detailed the elements of the narrative, a longer form narrative that read like a story, and a Q&A section that included the elevator pitch I had been sorely needing.
From there, it was time to amplify our message with a whole new identity!
Step 2: Making the Mark
As we began to zero-in on the key points of our message, I started working with a designer on adding a visual element to the message through the creation of a logo.
I chose to work with another designer rather than create something myself for two reasons.
- First, I was committed to getting this thing done, and I knew that if it was on my own plate, I’d always find something else more worthy of my time – like a client project.
- Second, I valued outside perspective. Not only was this my business, I was using my name in the business – a name I’d seen typeset in thousands of fonts over the last 30+ years! Outside perspective was absolutely necessary.
Also, I knew the collaboration was key to this process being done right. We become infinitely more creative when we collaborate with others.We become infinitely more creative when we collaborate with others. Click To Tweet
I shared our message guidebook, a color palette, and some background information about my business. My main message to Matt, the designer, was that I wanted Raven Design Shop (my former business name) to grow up, but keep it’s fun edge.
A note on the name change: During our messaging exercise, it became clear to us that Raven Design Shop didn’t adequately represent the business I was building. We tossed around a few possibilities, and landed on Raven Creative.
Matt was able to quickly land on a concept that I loved – we tweaked a few things and voila, we had our logo.
Step 3: Building the Site
My first site was a throw-it-up-and-tweak operation. It looked good, and accomplished the goal of having a functional website, but I always felt like I wanted to make a small change here or add more content there, especially before sending it to prospects. It wasn’t at all representative of the thoughtful process I had been taking my clients through.
Building a website from scratch can be a daunting task, especially if you haven’t taken the time to think strategically about your brand message and style.
But we’d already done that!
Once again, I used the message and brand we’d already created to develop the site’s content and style. I knew I wanted to create a simple, easy-to-navigate user experience, and that I wanted my key messages to be clear and consistent.
This time around, I took my own advice and followed the general process I’d been using to build sites for my clients.
Together, Matt and I worked through the design process, creating layouts for each site page in Photoshop. Once we nailed down the design, we handed things off to our developer, who build a custom theme using the Genesis Framework for WordPress. After some refining and testing, we were ready to launch!
Launching the site was an incredible feeling — instant gratification! The response from clients, prospects, friends and family was overwhelmingly positive and supportive. Best of all, it generated new business!
Doing it Right
We’ll go deeper into reflections and lessons learned next week, but going through this process – and doing it right – has given me so much confidence in Raven Creative and what we can do for our clients. We’ve officially crossed the threshold from one-woman show to full-blown creative services agency. Doing the real work to take things to the next level resulted in a message, brand and site I’m proud of. Most importantly, we’ve created the perfect platform to share all that Raven Creative is and all we’re doing to help our clients grow.
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