Making Your Own Brand A Priority Is Essential To Your Growth
Let me let you all in on a little secret: In some ways, Formada is just like any other business.
What I mean is that sometimes we have trouble taking our own best advice. We made this realization back in late 2022. Essentially, we were so focused on client work that we weren’t paying enough attention to nurturing our own brand. Hey, it happens to the best of us!
But because of that, our website, one of our most critical assets, just wasn’t getting the love it deserved.
In response to this, we did a few key things.
First, we formed a team devoted to auditing Formada’s existing brand so that we could rectify how we wanted to position the business with what it actually was at the time.
This team, consisting of Meghan, Garrett, Nathan, and myself, met regularly to execute the second key step in this plan: discuss the brand, set goals, and put together a project plan.
As the discussions progressed, it became clear that this brand refresh project would center on creating a new website for Formada. As Meg often will say, a business’s website is its “home on the internet,” and that’s exactly the approach we intended to take with our own.
At that time, it had been close to three years since the site had a dramatic overhaul. Sure, we had made all sorts of tweaks and additions over the years, but we were entering a different era of the business, and we needed a site that reflected our new trajectory.
It was time to upgrade the design, the language, and even the way we were positioning our service offerings — a little self-care, so to speak. If we’re not going to invest in ourselves, then who is?
Our Approach To Refreshing Our Own Website
To be clear, we’ve been doing maintenance since the site was first created — adding and removing pages, updating photography, and making all of the appropriate security updates.
We weren’t letting things die on the vine by any means, but we wanted to create a whole new experience for visitors, which required an entirely new focus and layout for the site.
We had to assess the brand as it was versus what we wanted or perceived to be at the time. All businesses should periodically conduct a similar exercise. It will reveal important gaps in your strategy while making the steps you need to take to fill them much clearer.
In our case, one of the central aspects of the Formada brand is our people. There’s a critical element to our brand that is aspirational, but the human connection — one that fosters partnership, our approach to service, and our approach to work — that was missing from the site. Or, at least, it wasn’t showcased in the site the way we wanted it to be.
We take our work seriously, very seriously, but we are approachable and playful in spite of the high standards we hold ourselves to.
The existing site showcased Meghan and Garrett, but not the rest of the team. The photography was good, but didn’t reflect the breadth of our character. The navigation needed to be clearer. The copy needed to be even more straightforward while evoking the team’s cleverness.
Words like “colorful” and “simple” and “transparency” kept popping up. We wanted to show who we are right now, where we’re headed over the next few years, and why you absolutely need to work with us.
That work started with brand-new copy.
How Copy Influenced Our Site’s New Direction
Nathan, our then-VP of Content (and now VP of Brand Strategy), has been a proofer, a copywriter, a creative director — he’s looked at these sorts of projects from every angle imaginable over the years.
His contention is that pretty much every marketing endeavor under the sun begins with content. Even projects that are entirely graphic in their execution need some sort of written brief in order to best communicate the idea.
After the team audited the existing site, researched competitors, shared inspiration, and developed a site map, Nathan began writing copy, a journey he began with the homepage.
We felt that if we could nail the homepage, a page that needed to be the clearest distillation of everything Formada represented and everywhere we intend to go, then the rest would fall into place.
You have just a few seconds through the art and copy to articulate so much: Who we are, what we do, and why you should choose us above everyone else.
We really wanted to communicate how deeply we go into your business when you partner with us. We want to be an extension of your team. We don’t want to give you cookie cutter solutions — our services are customized specifically for your business. We get to know you, your business, and your goals and work from there.
After several rewrites, the team was finally satisfied with the results. And, despite the fact that we’ve made many adjustments to it since the site launched, this original iteration of the homepage was the springboard for the rest of the project.
Key Website Design Decisions That Created Brand Differentiation
As we delved deeper into our design goals, Garrett and I collaborated on updating our style guide to more clearly define our brand colors, new fonts we intended to use, updating our corporate logo, as well as layout guidelines.
All of these details, and there are far more involved than I’m capturing here, helped us understand more about the critical design assets we needed in order to make the site complete, particularly how the team was portrayed.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure to talk with Meg or Garrett (or any of the rest of the team, for that matter) then you know how approachable and friendly Formada is. That’s not contrived.
We really wanted to convey the team’s spirit on the site, to make it more people-centric, and we knew that lively, original photography was the key showcasing our personality, our approachability, and building trust with our audience.
Original Photography Is A Critical Brand Differentiator
In preparation for the new site and other future marketing endeavors, the team held an all-day team-building event that also included a photographer and professional hair and makeup artist who were there to capture the day while making us look and feel our best.
The day was a big success and helped us capture the energy we wanted for the site in a way that stock photography never could. At the end of the day, Formada is about the results we deliver for our clients via the work of our team.
Original Iconography Is Yet Another Critical Brand Differentiator
Over the last few years, Formada’s services offerings have expanded pretty dramatically, and we wanted to create a visual language that reflected that.
Garrett and the team collaborated on upgrading and expanding our service icons, creating a beautiful set of images to be used on the site, presentation decks, and other marketing assets to establish a look and feel that is uniquely Formada.
We used this visual language thinking in everything that we did on the site — the page layouts, buttons, and even our forms.
Original Content Is A Key Brand Differentiator
I know that I already touched on copywriting for the site itself, but one of the new aspects of the site — a strategy that we recommend to anyone looking to grow their brand and keep their home on the internet well-maintained — was our blog.
Now, we’ve always had a blog, but we were only publishing in fits and starts. Since Nathan has taken over all responsibilities related to Formada’s brand strategy, we now publish original content on the site on a weekly basis.
We named it the Formada Reflector as a nod to an old-timey newspaper, and we use this space to showcase all sorts of things, from new services to musings on industry updates, as well insights on how to leverage marketing to grow your business. It’s all original content. It’s all delivered by the team. It’s had a huge impact on our site rankings and how we market the business.
On a super practical level, it helps people find us online while giving them useful information that doesn’t require anyone buying anything from us. Blogs build bridges, folks. If your site doesn’t have one, I highly recommend it.
Important Things I Learned While Redesigning Our Website
There are all sorts of different types of websites — portfolio sites, ecommerce, services sites, even sites that essentially act as business cards.
No matter what type of site your business requires, your customer or client base deserves your giving them a reason to visit in the first place — especially in the early stages of your relationship.
For us, that really meant focusing on practicing what we preach in terms of marketing best practices. We’re reviewing our site analytics consistently to improve the user experience, get new content ideas, and refresh existing content.
This approach mirrors how we deliver services to our clients, and it’s a way for them to experience our attention to detail before we even have a relationship with them.
Perhaps one of the biggest takeaways from this experience is how important it is to have an entire team to collaborate with on a project of this scale.
Having folks who understand sales, operations, brand positioning, and copywriting to lean on made my job as a designer that much clearer.
Yes, I technically designed this website, but the project as a whole was a genuine group effort. It made the process so much simpler and the product so much stronger.
This is the exact sort of approach that Formada does for all of its clients. We put the right people in the right seats so that, no matter what your goals are, we can create a strategy that can help you get there.
When was the last time your website got the refresh it deserves? If it’s been a good 2-3 years since you’ve updated your website, it might be time for a redesign! Reach out through the contact form on the website to schedule a consultation and we’ll be happy to chat with you!