A brand is not a logo. A brand is what an audience expects. Strong organizations understand the promise that they’re making: they know and name their audience, offer transformation, communicate with powerful emotions, and make sure to keep their promises.
Many firms can struggle to follow these basic precepts. That’s where I come in. Regardless of where you are in your strategy, or where you want to go, I can help lead you through the conceptual process of building an authentic brand and communicating effectively to those that matter most to you.
Whether it’s through personae exercises, market research, voice & tone work, building out your brand ladder, or acting as your Chief Content Officer to give you a content strategy that’ll work – I’ll be your trusted partner to deliver what you need. Your brand doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to be you.
A nonpartisan research center came to me with a careful design challenge. The client wanted to ensure that one of their key federally-funded research wouldn’t be mistaken for partisan polling (for confidentiality I refer to it simply as “the Poll”). They needed to persuade conservative politicians to keep their funding. But how do you tell a great story about a jumble of statistics, data, and estimates?
The client needed clear talking points for executive management to follow when defending the important work their Poll has done.
I began where I always do, with audience. To speak effectively to conservatives, I must be fluent in what they care about. Fortunately, sociologists have done the hard work, cataloging the underlying moral values that influence U.S. political ideologies. In particular, Robb Willer shows that conservatives, unlike liberals, specifically value concepts like tradition, purity, authority, and hierarchy. I started here.
With these moral attributes as my guide, I rewrote and revised a two-page memo designed to hit all the right notes while remaining subtle and factual.
I began by establishing some basic warrants in order to cue conservatives that they should keep an open mind. Words like “freedom,” “self-reliance,” and “liberty” all tell sympathize with conservative reader’s values.
I wanted to credential the Poll through conservative institutions that held the most authority and prestige – namely the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Foundation. By setting apart a clear and prominent list of conservative think-tanks, I hoped to quickly legitimize the Poll as, at the very least, a politically-neutral project.
I also wanted to address fiscal concerns head on. By describing the paltry price (which in the classified version I state outright), I argued that the Poll provides conservative politicians with the data they need to support their policies and win their elections. Because the Poll tracks many cultural values, I chose the ones that might best resonate based on my researched conservative persona: religious liberty, immigration, and national spending.
Finally, I thought it prudent to be particularly sensitive to fears around data security and privacy. Americans from all parties are afraid of data misuse. Many conservative lawmakers are deeply skeptical of the government’s reach into private life. Just like any good PR strategy, I addressed these fears honestly and carefully.
While NeigerDesign are masters at branding and marketing for their clients, they’d continue to overlook their own business development. When the American Marketing Association (AMA) offered them the chance to publish a sponsored article on their blog, NeigerDesign turned to me for help. This was a big challenge. I’d have to write inbound content for expert marketers in NeigerDesign’s voice while leveraging the firm’s years of experience.
I knew that the sponsored article would have to be concise, knowledgeable, engaging, and completely airtight. I also knew that before I could start writing, I’d have to possess a both a strong sense of NeigerDesign’s brand while quickly becoming an expert on the audiences and content found on AMA.org. I’d be threading the needle.
I learned that NeigerDesign takes specific pride in their past branding projects–a topic that many readers at AMA.org might find interesting. I also discovered that the content with the best engagement usually offered insights in a listicle format. Because I would be speaking to experts, I focused on building from the insights of key thought-leaders. Their voices would lend legitimacy and substance to my article while also improving SEO results. Finally, I focused on providing clear and concise tactics–not just abstract thoughts–through a personal and down-to-earth tone that would convey NeigerDesign’s years of business and extensive experience.
Fiskkit is a unique app that let’s anyone close read the news. As a fledgling startup, we need as many new users are we can get. I knew that, repackaged, our product could really help instructors teach close reading and critical thinking. How can we get teachers to actually start using our product in their classrooms?
As a former university lecturer, I knew that once a teacher has designed and taught a course before, they’re often loathe to make any new changes to their system. In addition, many teachers–especially at the university level–are already weary dealing with frustrating course management products. To convince them, I’d have to answer their skepticism and prove our product’s value off-the-bat.
Email marketing pitches alone wouldn’t be enough. I knew that I’d have to get creative. What better way to generate teacher signups than by removing the biggest barriers to adoption? A strong and brief lesson plan might both interest the weary pedagogue looking for a quick syllabus fix, while also educating them on Fiskkit Classroom’s unique tools through example.
Let me show you how I designed one of my lesson plans:
I had to give Fiskkit Classroom a brand identity through a unique logomark that could clearly differentiate it from the open Fiskkit site–one that conveyed its new use to a new audience. With my limited toolkit I chose the casual and handwritten Amatic font for the “Classroom” logo–perfect for teachers and college students. I used Amatic in my headers while repeating Fiskkit’s unique two color tone to convey a brand-consistent style.
I knew that my lesson plan would have to be one-page, organized, easy to understand, and very easy to implement for teachers. Let me take you through my thinking:
As of late May 2019, Fiskkit Classroom is still under construction. However, we have circulated these lesson plans to teachers, instructors, and course designers across the country. We’ve received overwhelmingly positive interest and feedback in the product. These lesson plans have been so successful that we’ve converted potential new users into strategic partners who’re now stumping on our behalf to their colleagues and friends.
Want to know more? Let’s talk.