These are all questions Lea and I asked ourselves during our Bright Umbrella rebrand. We knew that we wouldn't have a successful brand if we simply focused on a name, logo and website design. We had to take a comprehensive approach and devise a communication strategy that went beyond visuals to the words, tone and approach we take with every person we interact with.
Serving Multiple Masters
We began devising our communication strategy by defining our audiences:
- Colleagues, partners and peers
- CTRL+CLICK CAST guests, listeners and sponsors
We also defined the channels we intended to use:
- Blog posts
- Marketing materials
- Newsletters and email campaigns
- Social media
- Project communication with clients
- Sales communications with prospects and sponsors
Supporting Our Brand & Goals
Beyond identifying our multiple channels and audiences, we also needed to ensure that every element of our communication strategy supported our defined brand:
- We are invested in and care about our clients
- We are not only talented but smart, which is about putting talent to work
- We are positive and a pleasure to work with
As with all decisions we made during our rebrand, the research and data we gathered to form those tenets also served as touchstones for every decision we made for our communication strategy.
So, we knew who we wanted to reach and where we wanted to reach them. We knew what we needed to convey that aligned with our brand tenets. We next focused on the why, starting with defining high-level communication goals that support the business:
- Market and develop the business
- Connect with prospects, clients and peers
- Share information and educate
Then, we aligned each goal with channel(s) and audience(s). This served to guide us in both the what and how of our communications, including:
Our Website Channel
With that preparation as a foundation for our strategy, we began crafting our communications. One of the first channels we focused on was on this here website, because it is the one channel that touches every single one of our audiences. Additionally, Lea and I dream of projects where content is finalized before design and development, so we wanted to — had to — follow that approach ourselves.
We started building our content with the Emily Lewis Design site as a point of reference. We knew what worked there and what didn't. We also researched other sites for inspiration. And, of course, we returned to our brand tenets over and over again. This helped us determine the focus of our site content:
- As a relatively new company, clearly convey who we are as a team.
- Leverage our existing reputations by demonstrating our individual expertise and how that contributes to the success of us as a team.
- Our clients love us (seriously, they do!). We need to showcase that enthusiasm for our work.
- The reasons our clients love us isn't just about our experience or expertise. It is about how we treat them and are engaged with them. This has to be heavily emphasized.
- It needs to be clear what services we provide and the specific results we deliver.
- It's important to detail the high-quality services we offer, but we have colleagues and competitors that are just as good as we are. We are different because we are reliable, trustworthy and deeply invested in our clients.
- We care about the types of clients we want to work with, so it is important to be more than just “sales-y." We aren't just looking for work. We're looking for relationships with like-minded, invested clients.
- While our site's primary goal is marketing, a close second is education. We want our clients and prospects to understand our services and processes, and we also want to share our knowledge with the web community.
With our focus defined, we next turned to the content we wanted on the site:
- Client testimonials, lots of client testimonials
- Case studies and client relationships
- The services we provide and processes we follow
- About us as a team, focusing on what differentiates us
- About us as a company, everything from our differentiators to our production of CTRL+CLICK
- About us as individuals, focusing on our skills and accomplishments
- Company news and community education
- Options for our audiences to connect with us
If you peruse the site, you'll see that's it. We definitely wanted “less is more." Which led to our very basic, yet extremely focused, information architecture (IA). From organization to naming, we designed our IA so that visitors could not only easily find this content, but even without navigating they could instantly connect with (dare I say “feel") both our focus and content:
- Three site sections reflected in the primary navigation: Work, Blog, About
- Contact form on every page, accessible from primary navigation
- A client testimonial on every page
- CTRL+CLICK “badge" in footer
- Office locations listed in footer
- Newsletter subscription in footer, along with social media “follow" links
- Selected case studies featured on Work section page, with all case studies available via internal pagination
- Case studies featuring an additional testimonial, along with a focused summary, details about services and results, and large imagery showcasing project deliverables
- Blog posts organized by categories and tags
- About section page focused on the company and us as a team, with links to our individual bios
- Home page featuring our services, process and client relationships
In keeping with the overall focused approach of the site IA, we wanted the content itself to be focused. As in short and sweet. While crafting our content, we restricted ourselves in terms of how long any “chunk" of content needed to be. And we kept editing for length, trying to convey the same points in fewer words.
Headlines, contact form labels, blog categories, all of it … we tried to choose the simplest and fastest way to communicate. Consider our About section page headline: Obsessed with Happy Clients (which we also use in some of our marketing materials). Four simple words convey a lot:
- Commitment to clients
- Positivity and passion
- Happy clients = good work, trusted partners
While length of content was certainly important, the voice and mood of that content was critical. Just like we wanted site visitors to instantly “experience" who we are and what we do when they land on a page, we equally wanted site visitors to connect with us when reading anything on the site. Just like our logo (and the eventual site design), our words are an opportunity to demonstrate our personality.
With that in mind, we aimed for an overall conversational tone to our site copy, with some guiding specifics:
- Bit of brag, balanced with informing
- Enthusiastic and passionate, balanced with experience and knowledge
- Creative, technical and strategic
All of this work means nothing if we don't maintain it. We have to be consistent. Every new case study and every new blog post needs to align with our goals and brand tenets. Every bit of copy we add needs to be focused in length and tone. Just consider this post you are reading:
- It could resonate with our existing customers, prospects and our colleagues.
- I'm showcasing the work we do with branding, but with the angle that what we did for Bright Umbrella could work for a customer … or even a colleague tackling a similar project.
- I'm telling you about our our experience and what we know, revealing our process and decision-making, so if you are a prospect you know we are detailed and thorough. While, if you are a colleague, you might get a new idea to implement for your next project.
- I'm writing as if I'm talking to you over coffee, excited to tell you about this cool thing we just did.
That's us. And that's how we communicate on our website and every other channel we touch.
Analytics & Evolution
While our website is just one of the channels in our comprehensive communication strategy, what every channel has in common is measurement. Where we can, we track and analyze our communications so that we can adjust and fine-tune. Where we can't, we research and experiment with new approaches that help us evolve our communication.
For the website, we rely on Google Analytics (GA) and HootSuite. GA gives us perspectives about our users, traffic and popular content. HootSuite helps us understand how our social media activities related to our website and, more specifically, our blog posts are working to drive traffic.
It's ongoing and never-ending. As it should be, because a hallmark of an effective and comprehensive communication strategy is one that is measured, responsive and flexible … which just happen to be three adjectives that describe Bright Umbrella! (See what I did there?)
We are already working on more articles that detail our branding processes for clients, as well as a deep dive into the design and development of this website. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter (we don't spam) and/or follow us (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) to be notified when these articles go live.