About this time last year, I embarked on the great rebranding adventure of 2014. The results includes a fresh new web design and a greater ability to meet the needs of an expanding and sophisticated clientele.  So what exactly happened on this adventure? Let’s find out…

First things first, my partners in crime were the kick-ass team at Big Deal Branding and the uber-talented photographer Sarah Gerber of Twenty Twenty Studios.

Step One: Brand Therapy

Before we even started thinking about logo designs and web copy, we needed to get to the heart of the business. Indeed, the bulk of this entire process had nothing to do with design, and everything to do with passion and strategy. “Therapy” is a fitting word for this process – I spent several months on a weekly Skype session with Krysta, lead marketing guru at Big Deal Branding. At times I felt like I should be lying on a couch.

We talked about my vision for 11stories, exploring my original intentions for the business, lessons learned over the past few years, and my goals for the future. We focused on my passion for this work and my belief that there is no one typical personal history client, and we explored my strengths as the owner behind the brand. We clarified the core values of the business – quality, professionalism, uniqueness, passion, & style.

Step Two: Brand Identity

Once we were clear on the goals and vision of 11stories, it was time to work on the design aspects of the brand.

11stories logo redesignLogo: We played with quite a few iterations before we settled on a balance of clean typography with a touch of customization. The logo has subtle page lines to evoke our appreciation of the book, and quotation marks to represent our passion for preserving your words.

11stories paletteColor Palette: We kept a similar palette to the original identity, with the charcoal gray texture evoking the bookcloth and the gold texture representing the foil stamping on our books.

11stories typographyTypography: Hmm, this was fun! My idea of selecting typography is to discover fonts from small boutique type foundries, explore the story of why the artist made that font, play with the glyphs, and imagine how that font would work so well for the life story I just recorded. While wonderful for print, this approach does not work well for web.  The reality of selecting web fonts is a bit more practical, with concerns about readability and accessibility across systems and platforms trumping any passion or connection to a font.  Needless to say, print fonts and web fonts play in different sandboxes!

The upside of that process is that I’m building a fabulous collection of fonts in my Pinterest inspiration board, ready for your next book project!

11stories elementsDesign Elements: Gary from Big Deal Branding designed some wonderful icons to accent the text and to lighten the overall look and feel of the site. I particularly love the couch and heart icons, which so perfectly complement my original tagline, “stories of life, stories of love.”  We also added elements like the pencil line around objects to evoke the writing aspect of our work.

Step Three: Web Design

Challenge: Educating clients on the unique 11stories experience.

We knew that many folks were not familiar with the idea of personal history, so we wanted the website to provide a clear outline of the process, from our initial conversations through to the experience of reading and sharing your book.

Solution: The Process page provides a step-by-step guide, the Our Work page now links to a detailed post about each story, and the Packages page gives real-life examples of our clients’ personal history projects.  Best of all, the expandable FAQ section provides answers to many of your questions!

Challenge: Providing a sophisticated way for clients to experience our books.

An 11stories book has two unique elements. First, its ability to capture your stories, in your words, and present them on the page in a way that makes the reader “hear” the storyteller. Second, its ability to present the stories integrated with photography and other memorabilia, in a custom-designed format. We wanted clients to read how the words come alive on the page, and to see the custom details that we create for each client.

Solution: Install a flipbook plugin & integrate it into the blog. Clients can now access flipbooks from the Our Work page as well as the Blog, where we provide details about the book’s story and custom design. Being able to flip through an excerpt gives clients a window into how we take stories from an interview to a page-turner.

Challenge: Create a gorgeous site that evoked the 11stories experience.

Solution: Use beautiful photography to add visual interest and to complement the text, just like we do in an 11stories book. Sarah’s photos bring our books to life, helping clients to envision our books’ look and feel and to imagine the experience of reading and sharing a book with friends and family.

Our hard work has paid off as we enter 2015 with a fresh new look and a better way to help our customers create their ideal personal history experience.  I am excited for this next chapter!