Loading...

Introduction

A memorable digital experience is just as important as a memorable in-person experience.

Let's do both well.

Brand-to-table focuses foremost on aligning your digital strategy, visual design, and code.

and secondarily, synchronizing between your digital and in-person brand experience.

workflow

Brand strategy roadmap

Your Mission
Who do you serve? What are you committed to making possible? In what spaces or localities? In the pursuit of this mission, how are you truly differentiated?
Driving Formula

Every brand has a different compositional makeup for what drives the business forward. In a world where everyone seems to be simultaneously a mobile experience, retail driven, social media driven, partnership driven, or... lucky and viral, you need to know which drivers are integral to you.

Which channels drive your brand forward? In what order or priority must they occur? How do they ultimately funnel into each other?

Reputation
Conversely, how are you seen by the public? What perceptions play to your advantage? What perceptions put you at a disadvantage? What reconciling do you need to do between how people see you and where you want to go?
Prioritizing goals
Critically list out your business goals from top to bottom. Look for any associations between goals that allow you to form groupings. For example, some low level tasks might be necessary to pave the way for broader business goals. Conversely, other low level tasks should be put on hold to avoid redundancy if broader goals directly shape them.

Brand identity

Personality

In the first section, we established where you want to go.
In this section, we boil down who you are as you go.

Personality is your right to be unapologetic and expressive on the issues you care about, in the way you want.
Personality is also about how you feel and come across to others.
Personality is finally and frankly—your effectiveness at communicating.

It's a lot easier to know your personality when you are one cook in the kitchen, rather than a hundred. This section will give you the framework to keep your voice singular. Our goal is that you complete this section effectively able to nail down your brand's steward. This is the lifesource for the traits that humanize your brand, and keep it from devolving into an inanimate entity.

Pinpoint if the core spirit lives in a person or a mascot, a place or a feeling. We need to know where to look to find your truest voice, as that gives answers to what you would or wouldn't do.

For example: if the spirit lives in a founder, document their character—everything from body movements, speeches, writings, ephemera, life history, to career pursuits and life passions.

Visual Identity Development

Your visual identity is more than how you look, it is how you signify. Meaning, visual identity is your ability to speak who you are miles before you've even had a chance to say anything directly with words.

Through your visual identity, you'll signify everything from if you'll be easy to work with, to if you might not be the right fit for some, while you're totally speaking the language of some others—all through your use of colors, shapes, fonts, symbols (including your logo!), and the spacing or way you arrange / combine them on the canvasses your audience sees and ultimately will interact with.

Tonality

What adds the color and timbre to your voice? Are you frank, flowery, technical, oppositional, colloquial, formal? Do you maintain distance, or are you actively engaged,communicative, and chatty with your audience? Are you democratic, open source, proprietary? Do you prefer illustrations over photos? GIFs over video? Do you even emoji?

To each their own tonality. Build the world around your communication so others can quickly discern when a communication is coming from you because it feels like something you would say.

Customer experience

Your favorite personas

Let's flesh out your ideal types of customers and get them into a hard-copy format you can easily reference later. To do this, we're going to create online dating profiles and play matchmaker.

Exercise 1: In a blank note, list a maximum of five ideal types of people you want to serve. Then for each, evaluate what makes this a good fit for both parties:

  1. What does your ideal person need done?
  2. What is it about the way you fulfill on this need that sets you as their top choice?
We're going to take the most promising of these candidates and create a 'persona' to encapsulate and help visualize each. A persona is a fictional archetype that allows you to channel a target demographic into a single face, name, age, income, list of personality traits, quotes, desires/interests, and finally insight on how this persona uses your service. Personas should essentially look like OKCupid dating profiles and be short, simple, one pagers.

Note: Just in like online dating, you have their profile but you need to message and gauge your prospect's interest back. Do your early field testing. It's advisable you only move onto customer journey roadmapping (in the next step) for the personas that show promise back.

Note: it's important to revisit personas and refine them with real customer data as your relationship with them grows over time.

Customer Journey Roadmap
The customer journey roadmap is a quintissential flowchart that gives you the most simple bird's eye view of how your customers move through using your product/service, and how they develop their relationship with you over time.
[more coming soon]

Technology strategy

Coming soon

Visual design

Coming soon

Development

Coming soon

Choosing a CMS

Here are the pros and cons of the most popularly used platforms:

  • Shopify: best choice for small business e-commerce. Backend is razor fast. Themes work well out of the box.
    Disclaimer: I list myself on the Shopify Expert Marketplace:
    Shopify Partner
    Start your Shopify E-Commerce store using my referral link, and book me as your Shopify Expert to help you get started!

  • Squarespace: best choice for marketing websites, and non-extensive design or photography portfolios.
  • Wordpress: Best budget option for an archival database site. Most commonly used for blogs. Interface is clunky and confusing. Themes tend to be bloated with unnecessary options and code / few work well out of the box, requires developer.

Note: These views expressed here are my own and should not be used as formal business recommendations without a one-on-one consultation. I have not been compensated in any way by these companies.


About the author

Steven Chu

Steven Chu is a multidisciplinary product designer based in New York, specializing in strategy, visual identity design, art direction, UX/UI design, front-end development (UI development), and experiential marketing. His experience comes from working with clients in fashion, art, design, music entertainment, consumer products, and technology over the past 10 years.

Our customers have been greatly appreciative of the more user-friendly and engaging components.


I find this invaluable, especially as we look toward the future of where my business and I are headed.

JULIE RATH

It has been a privilege for me to have worked with Steven Chu since the inception of my brand/business in 2009. He has always been a wonderfully supportive champion of my work. We've been through many different iterations of design, development, and strategy for my brand over the years, and I've learned so much from him throughout the process. Steven is the extreme opposite of complacent — always on top of the latest in tech and marketing and looking for ways to implement new ideas into my brand and offerings. I find this invaluable, especially as we look toward the future of where my business and I are headed.

Julie Rath, Founder of Rath & Co.