Brand Management | Brand Work

Taking Our Own Medicine

Our new website is live as of last Monday. We’re happy with how it represents us, but we’re not writing to celebrate that fact. (And yes, we have ideas about doing more with it, and about doing a few things differently, but that’s life in the change lane.) Rather, working on our site has brought to mind a few things we consider important about web sites, marketing, communications, and brand expression in general.

A shot across the bow. First, we state where we stand unequivocally: We are the premier story-led brand management firm. Does your own home page communicate your business with comparable directness? If not, what’s holding you back?

Our strong positioning sets up a clear point of view in our listing of services. We offer many of the same services as other brand consulting firms, ad agencies, and so on. But our priorities are clear, as is the way we see our services working together. Are your own priorities clear? Can your visitor tell where your focus lies? What gets you up in the morning? If not, is there a reason why not?

With our own focus in mind, we note the significant rise in our profession (and others) of “storytelling” in the 17 years since we’ve been practicing it. (For the first four years of our existence as a firm—we’re now 21—the storytelling epiphany hadn’t yet happened.) We believe in storytelling as a brand-building approach and are happy to see it has moved into the mainstream. We note, however, that many of the biggest players in our space list storytelling as one service among many, equivalent to, say, logo design. This causes us to wonder if we all understand the term in the same way. Storytelling informs almost everything we do. For us, brands are stories—stories told in the marketplace. We view every other deliverable as a component or manifestation of the story.

Having it your way. As we planned the site, we kept in mind a communications priority: making sure relevant information would be readily accessible to our visitors. This meant paying attention not only to how we organized things but also to how the site itself would perform. And so we opted for a responsive design solution that would deliver a satisfying experience regardless of device, including mobile.

Digital is no longer the paradigm shifter. It’s the main game. When we think of how and where brand stories play out, we start from this perspective. Within the digital realm, mobile now plays a decisive role. Given that more visitors to our site (and yours) are likely to access it via a mobile device than not, we figured we owed them a fully baked experience in its own right.

Get out of your heads, people. Ease of use notwithstanding, we rejected the idea of a site lacking in richness or soul. We have a distinct personality, and we wanted to convey it. Too many of our peers seem entirely too similar and too subdued for a profession that’s supposed to help audiences wake up and take notice. We delight in color and pattern, and believe in differentiation as a matter of mood, not just message. Bonnie Tsang’s superb photos add another layer of flavor. Taken in and around Detroit, Oakland and LA, in our offices, neighborhoods and favorite haunts, they offer a glimpse of the world that inspires us, and suggest the stories that live there, at street level.

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