Behind the scenes of my big rebrand — and why I hired it out

This post has been a long time coming. Grab a drink and get cozy — it’s story time.

Behind the scenes of rebranding from elembee.com

For the first two years, this space got a redesign every three months or so — I just couldn’t help myself. After all, this was my design playground, and I was still discovering my brand and style.

I eventually settled into my style and began to understand the purpose of this site and the unique qualities of my brand. My story continued to develop through more writing, more work, and more experiences, but the core design stayed pretty much the same.

Last October, I started to feel the familiar itch to update my site. But the more I looked at it, the more lost I felt. My logo didn’t inspire me anymore, and I felt like something was missing, but I couldn’t identify how to fix it.

I’ve done a little bit of everything when it comes to design. My first job out of college had me working in publication design, and eventually branding and marketing collateral. My next job was all print work. So when I started my business, I continued doing a little bit of everything.

I quickly realized that web design was my thing. It plays to both the creative and logical sides of my brain — I get to make things pretty, then I get to nerd out on code.

Last fall, I realized I needed to get more specific: My true talent is putting together the puzzle pieces — not painting the picture. I’m not the artist who loves creating something from nothing. I’m a problem-solver. You tell me what parts of your website are making you unhappy, or where you’re feeling that disconnect between what you’re communicating online and what you want to be, and I help you get from Point A to Point B.

And that was the problem I was facing with my own site: Puzzle pieces were missing, and it was time for a new picture. I wanted a brand identity that was more than just type and pretty colors — I wanted a system of elements I could mix and match to create magic. I wanted it to feel the same, but be better. And I knew I couldn’t do it myself.

So that left me with the scary — and exciting — conclusion that it was time to hire out my branding. My search started and ended with Braid Creative. I knew their style aligned with my own — but had that extra special touch. I also had previous experience with how they think and work through their e-courses and a live workshop I attended a few years ago.

Let me stop here for a minute and explain a couple of things. First, many people assume that branding is part of web design. It’s not. There are people who offer one big package that includes both. There are people who, like Braid, only offer branding, or, like me, only offer web design. It’s important to understand your needs and budget before searching for a designer. My clients either come to me with an existing brand platform that I use the pieces to put together a web design, or they have basic branding needs and are happy with simple typography and color scheme.

Second, it’s so important to find someone whose style aligns with your own. If you’re making a big investment in your site, that should be your number one priority — even if you have to wait a bit longer to work with the right person.

Back to the story. So I reached out to Braid in October, simply curious if they even offered design only — I wasn’t sure I needed the full package (their branding services include design and messaging). But as I waited for our Skype interest session, I realized that after two and a half years in business, it was probably time for some outside perspective on my brand messaging to help me find the threads I couldn’t see myself and tie everything together in a cohesive way.

We chatted, it was a fit for us both, and I got on the calendar for January. And then I got to experience the design process from the other side.

Another tip from me to you: If you’re considering a redesign, start reaching out to designers now. The designer you want may already be booked out. As a designer myself, I was prepared for this, but just understand now that you may be waiting longer than you think.

Let’s talk a little about anticipation and preparation. I now understand just how hard it can be to wait to begin work on your design — but I also eventually found it quite freeing. Suddenly I could mark half of my tasks off of my to-do list because they would either be taken care of during the rebrand, or I couldn’t do anything with the task until afterwards. Instead, I focused on making sure my homework was done in time for the project, keeping my ahead of client work, and doing other business tasks that I had been putting off in favor of working on my site.

Use the time before your project begins to your advantage. You’ll likely be most excited when you book your project and as your start date gets closer. Use that excitement to move your business forward in other ways. If you’re redesigning your website, work on writing your copy. Make sure you’ve done everything your designer asks so they aren’t waiting for you to begin. Create an opt-in freebie, a new product, or a new service to launch with your rebrand. Or just make sure you stay ahead of client work so you’re ready to devote time to your rebrand when it rolls around.

Once the process began, it was fast — and a true example of what can happen when you choose the right business to work with. It’s hard to place trust in someone else when it comes to your business — your baby — but you just have to go with your gut and trust the process.

I’m so happy with the results and so excited to share them with you today — I hope you love my new site as much as I do!

18 Comments

  1. beh wrote:

    Looks great! I’m a designer who’s learning how to code, and I’ve said the exact same thing: gets both sides of my brain going.

    Posted 4.9.15
    • beth wrote:

      Beth, not Beh. 😉

      Posted 4.9.15
    • Thank you Beth! Yeah, I really need that balance to be able to do either well.

      Posted 4.9.15
  2. Allyssa wrote:

    Lisa, the site looks amazing!

    Posted 4.9.15
    • Thanks so much Allyssa!

      Posted 4.9.15
  3. The site looks awesome, and you can tell a lot of thought went into it. So what exactly did Braid provide for you? Do they decide the colors, or design the graphics/ fonts? What does their brand design entail?

    Posted 4.9.15
    • So it was actually a two-part process: brand/business visioning and brand platform. For the visioning, they listened to where I am now, where I want to go, and what makes my brand unique. Then they created a document as a checkpoint before we began design, and also as something I can refer back to and remind myself of my brand qualities and why I do the work I do.

      For the brand platform, it was part visual and part copywriting. For the visual, they designed the logo (and some variations that I use across the site — for example, the type treatment for my personal name, and the little “from Elembee.com” stamp I use at the bottom of all blog post graphics). They also chose colors, fonts, and additional design elements (like the hexagon style icons I use). For the copywriting, they created taglines, overall brand messaging (like the start with your website on my home page), and copy to explain who I am and what I do (which I use in my bio and for page introductions, like some of the copy on the shop page). They put it together in a brand platform document that they designed according to my brand, so it also serves as a brand guide so I have ideas on how to put the brand elements together.

      What I did from there is pretty much everything you see on my website — I designed and coded the page layouts and created the graphics according to their styling, and adapted the copy for use on my site. A lot of the copy from the home page came from my brand platform, and those same themes and phrases informed the copy I wrote myself.

      Let me know if you have any questions! Usually when I write comments this long I eventually turn them into blog posts since apparently I have a lot to say on the subject!

      Posted 4.9.15
      • Sasha-Shae wrote:

        Thanks for sharing that Lisa, I had the very same question about what exactly did they do in the process. It turned out great. I like that they gave you a thorough brand guide, seemed like it helped a bunch! Also, I love that the colors and feel of it is tailored to reflect who you are and what you really like.

        I’m also trying to design my website, and admittedly, the hardest thing is to finalize a look+feel that really reflects what I love. So far I know for sure I love clean, classic chic styles but also bits of fun prints like leopard and zebra, and I love gold! Lol.

        Posted 4.9.15
  4. Carmia wrote:

    I love the new logo and bright colours! I’m also curious to know/see what Braid designed for you. Like the final brand board maybe? I just love their style.
    Well done on the new site, Lisa!

    Posted 4.9.15
    • Thank you so much Carmia! I answered your question in the comment above — it’s a pretty long answer!

      Posted 4.9.15
  5. I love the new look!

    Posted 4.9.15
  6. Amanda wrote:

    This was HUGELY helpful. I am more of a developer who dabbles in design, and I’m struggling so desperately to brand myself right now. I keep feeling like I SHOULD be able to do it myself, and I just can’t seem to get the mojo right. I feel like this post gave me “permission” in a way — like, it’s OK to not do branding AND design AND development. It’s OK to hire it out. I really appreciate the perspective!

    Posted 4.9.15
    • Amanda, I totally feel you. When I paid my first invoice I had a little panic moment wondering why I was paying so much for something I could technically do myself. But I WASN’T doing it myself! I just felt stuck. And it’s because it’s just not what I’m best at. I could not have possibly imagined my site looking like this back in October, and I’m so, so happy with it. And once I had my branding in place — the part I’m not good at — creating my website was much, much easier and a lot more fun.

      Posted 4.9.15
  7. Erika wrote:

    This looks SO GOOD, Lisa. I love every bit of it. And love the process you talked about. So intentional! You rock, carry on. 😉

    Posted 4.9.15
  8. Kathleen wrote:

    Lisa – the site is GORGEOUS. I loved working with you and am so proud of our collaboration. You went above and beyond in bringing your brand to life online. XO

    Posted 4.9.15

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