We recently completed our re-brand of Siteset to Siteset Digital, a slightly practical update but with good reason, with the launch of our shiny new and completely responsive website. It is the culmination of 9 months of planning and then a frantic last month to get the actual website complete and live. As with all projects, there are remaining things to complete and further work to be done on the site…the proverbial and often fictional “phase 2” we all know and love. In this case I am determined that it will actually happen though. Did I enjoy the experience? By and large I did, it has been rewarding to refocus a company and create something that will be long lasting. Has it been challenging? Oh yes, and here is why…
Re-branding a company, or even just updating the brand, is a big change both culturally and aesthetically. In a relatively small agency like ours that also means that there are probably a lot of emotions and personalities tied up in the process as well. That is a good thing because it means that people care and want to be involved. The MD and I spent months planning the new propositions for the company, how we would pitch these in the market place and crafting the tone of voice and copy for the marketing we will be doing. We made sure to involve all the key people in the agency whilst going through this process, something that I think was key because it ensured not only that our messaging made sense but also that the rest of the company bought in to the vision. There is nothing worse than being dictated to, so getting them involved an interested from the earliest possible moment was really important. That is not to say, however, that getting everyone involved in the detailed planning is a good idea, too many cooks do cock up the broth!
With the content planning completed the website planning was the next part of the process. The website has to portray the company in the right light and so the design was key. We have a big focus on mobile servicing so having a site that works for mobile was a key requirement. I decided on a responsive approach and wireframed the key user journeys and possible layouts for the site. We then engaged a designer who has worked with us before to do the graphics.
The focus for the designer was to keep things simple. “Apple” seems to be the buzz word in design circles, and has been for a while, which is fine if your company and products sell themselves but if you need a little more substance in a site then you need to make sure the message comes across. The design work, as usual, was very good and fitted with the vision we have for the company. the tricky bit was then balancing the copy.
As a small agency I am very aware that the website needs to showcase our creativity, instill a sense of confidence through clear understanding of digital technologies and not be gimmicky. The balance point here is very slight. Designers will often drive down a route of image heavy, pun filled, content light pages that fulfill an advertising role. On the flip side a content focused information architect will want to fill the pages with confidence filling jargon and practical messaging that shows how well we know the subject matter. Finding the balance in between is very difficult. Whilst the ‘designy’ approach will look great, if the company name is not big then it will not be enough and people looking for the substance will see through the thin layer of ‘wow’ and see nothing beyond it. The latter will be potentially boring and not grab the attention enough in the first place and so people will not be drawn in to the key content.
This is often the area of a project where different department clash and in the end it is the job of the client to make the decision. There are no right and wrong answers except to know who the audience is and what the message you want to tell them is. Everything else is about having the confidence in your convictions and the knowledge that you don’t have to get it 100% right from the outset. In fact, accepting that you won’t get it 100% right straight away is the key to almost all successful projects.
The other main balance point for launching the brand is the deadline. If you don’t have a deadline then the project could just drag on and on whilst you procrastinate about whether the idea is good enough. But at the same time making sure you have allowed enough time to get the idea fully formed and well formatted is also key. An expression that is often used is “do you want it right or do you want it Friday?”. Often when dealing with clients the answer is “both”, but in the practical world it is that we want it right and we want to allow the time for that to happen, but we also need to make sure we work towards something, otherwise people start to take the piss and not deliver or else lose focus on the original goals.
For us the main thing was dealing with the emotions involved. Everyone has a deeper invested interest than they might for any other project, because we all want it to be at its best. Remembering who makes the final decisions and not losing your head if you don’t get your own way is key, because in the end the product is more than likely going to be good, even if it isn’t 100% what your vision was. We are all skilled capable practitioners here with valid ideas. I think our re-brand has gone well and our website is a good start. There is still work to do, as there always is in making sure a brand and site continue to be there best. But when did any project ever go smoothly?
Take a look at the site here: www.sitesetdigital.com