You’ve finally decided it’s time for a new website—hooray! You hired a web designer to build your site, but things aren’t going so well. They just can’t seem to capture your vision. You go through multiple changes until you conclude your styles are too different. Or maybe they’re not skilled enough or they’re just ignoring your directions. So, you kindly let them go and hire a new designer to finish your site. But the situation repeats itself. That’s because your website designer isn’t the problem.
The Real Problem
The problem is you don’t know how to communicate—in design terms—what your business should look, feel, and sound like. The real problem, is you don’t have a visual brand identity. (AKA a set of design rules to guide your designer).
Grit Into Grace is a nonprofit that provides rest and refuge for survivors of sexual exploitation in Indianapolis. They had a logo and couple of colors they loved. But they didn’t know how to use them together to create cohesive marketing and a professional website. And they didn’t know how to communicate their vision for their website to their current website designer.
The Case Study
Before we could build a website, we needed to get clear on how they wanted their brand to look, feel, and sound. We nailed it down to several keywords: simple, elegant, compassionate, and feminine without looking flowery or childish. Then, using their existing logo and colors, I created brand styling that expanded their color palette and captured the warm, inviting, and beautiful brand they envisioned.
Step 1: Choosing a Mood board
The brand styling began with a series of mood boards that demonstrated different color combinations and images that fit their keywords. They chose option one, pictured below. This guided the creative direction for the rest of their brand.
Step 2: Developing Mock Ups
Next, using their newly expanded color palette and existing logo, I created a series of mock ups for products that are relevant to their business. The purpose was to help them fully envision how their branding would look in the real world.
Step 3: Setting Brand Guidelines
Once the brand aesthetic was nailed, I started on arguably the most important step if this entire process: creating a set of rules and guidelines that included their mission, vision, values, audience personas, brand story, exact color palette, fonts, imagery, and how and how not to use their logo. (AKA a set of design rules for their business.)
This formalizes the brand and allows them to communicate—in clear design terms—how their brand should always look, feel, and sound. The guidelines became 20-page document that they can share with other graphic designers, web designers, copywriters, and social media manager to ensure every person is following the same rules for the brand.
Step 4: Design the Website
Once the brand guidelines were established, we were finally positioned to design their website. This made the process seamless, because we both had a clear understanding of exactly how their website should look, sound, and feel. The goal throughout this whole process was to make sure the client experienced no (bad) surprises when it was time to review their design samples. This also minimized the amount of revisions, so they could focus on the messaging and meeting the goals of their site.
Speaking of goals, because they’re a nonprofit, their website needed to appeal their client, as well as potential partnering organizations and donors. Their first goal was to create awareness of their services and programs. Their second goal was to make it easy for someone to make an online donation.
It was also really important to them that the images on their website reflected the real women their nonprofit serves, while still protecting their identity. We used photos they had taken during a prior photoshoot. Then, with a little photoshopping, I incorporated their brand colors to use on every webpage hero.
From start to finish, the entire process took about 6 months. It was well worth it for the future of their brand. And I’m a proud mama bear designer to see them using their brand guide to create beautifully branded social media posts, business cards, and more.
When we finished, founder Stefanie Jeffers gave the most glowing (and spicy) review:
If you’re ready to stop wrestling through designers and make your brand look, sound, and feel exactly as you imagine, I’d love to help. Just head over to my contact page and grab a spot on my calendar for your free consultation.