Today I am so excited to have my dear friend Jen Olmstead join the podcast who I met at a conference last year. We shared some gin and tonic’s and a really nice cheese board and became instant friends.
Jen was the brains and beauty behind my recent website launch and I knew I had to have her on to talk about how to create an unforgettable brand. Her process kicks off with a “Brand Interview” and it’s her favorite part of the process. Don’t miss your free download below and get started with a copy of her brand interview questions below. Jen says that if you want to know what your brand is, listen to what other people say about you. By doing so, you’ll discover their perception of you, and you can use this information as a filter when you begin to build your Pinterest boards, which is part of the homework she assigns to clients.
With The Tonic Site Shop, Jen and her partner Jeff realized that there was a huge demand for creative that wanted great websites, so they offer what they call “templates for people who give a damn.” (1:20)
“We love it; it allows us to have endless creativity and we put so much heart, soul and design into (the templates)” (2:22)
Jen feels strongly about the importance of collaboration in business and Jeff compliments her skills and drives her in other areas. Jen, as a former journalist, focuses on things like branding, fonts and tones, and Jeff as a photographer is able provide expertise on layouts for galleries (3:36).
She admits that with her own design business she made the mistake of taking on too many clients at one time, and ended up not serving them as well as she could have. She realized that by doing this, she could lose all of her inspiration for her work as well. Now that Jen and her husband have a daughter, she doesn’t have as many hours to do one-on-one work, and in order to use her gifts to the best of her ability, she had to change the way she does business. With the templates, she now is able to help more entrepreneurs see their dream come to life on the Internet (6:05).
Her goal as a designer is to “disappear” into the work entirely, and she says that if all of her sites look similar, then she has failed (9:07).
“If I designed in a ‘one-size fits all’ style, that’s totally the opposite point of custom design” (9:37)
Jen’s process of designing websites has changed since she first began in business, but it allows to her build a true friendship between her and the client (11:15). She now does uses design-intensive process and has her clients do “homework”, before meeting with them in person for a couple of days (12:34).
“They leave with their website almost fully designed and I leave with really close new friends” (13:04)
Using a predominately email-based process, it’s easy to miss the collaborative advantages. Jen finds it’s much more efficient and effective using her current process, and as well, momentum for the project is maintained (14:31).
Introverts who aren’t comfortable meeting in person for days with the client can still use Skype to get to know the person and understand his or hers needs (15:54).
“Just figure out a way of incorporating what you love and who they are back into the design” (16:17)
Jen believes that when you start with intention, you create with purpose. She feels that this is the backbone of the design process (17:29).
The “Brand Interview” is her favorite part of the process, and she says that if you want to know what your brand is, listen to what other people say about you. By doing so, you’ll discover their perception of you, and you can use this information as a filter when you begin to build your Pinterest boards, which is part of the homework she assigns to clients (18:21).
“Start with the understanding of what makes you different; then you’re going to appeal to the people who are looking for exactly what makes you different.” (20:03)
You need to figure out if your brand and your work are telling the same story, and if not, it’s probably time for a re-brand or at the very least, some smaller changes (22:05).
“Does your work support your brand and does your brand support your work?” (22:39)
Confidence and awareness of who you want to work with is huge, and often the problem isn’t that you can’t find your ideal client, but it’s that your ideal client can’t find you (27:34).
Jen says that your brand and website should be creating what she calls “points of connection”, and that you need to give clients reasons outside of your work for them to want to work with you (30:11). To create these points of connection, go a step deeper and tell people why you love something, and most importantly, be truthful (30:57).
“It makes you a person, and not a brand” (33:06)
She shares that the average visit to a website lasts less than one second, and her clients are reporting stays of about 8 minutes. The longer a visitor stays on the site, the more likely it is that this will result in a booking or sale (37:56).
“That kind of experience really creates a relationship from the very first impression (39:10)