How Content Can Transform Your Business

Please give a warm welcome to Robert and Stacia Guzzo, founders of Handcrafted HoneyBee. This energetic #ahasmember business team has generously offered to share their recent, dramatic rebranding journey with our community. Here is Part 4, as told by Robert Guzzo, Co-Founder of Handcrafted HoneyBee.

The entire series can be found here:
read the prologue here
Part 1 (where they talk about their need to change) here

Part 2 (why it takes awhile to get a rebrand right)
Part 3 (what it's like finding a designer)

Part 4 (creating compelling content)
Part 5 (creating and using your brand guide)

Part 6 (creating compelling packaging)
Part 7 (juggling two brands at once)

Part 8 (building a homepage)
Part 9 (launching their new site)
Epilogue (why going through a rebrand helps you love your brand more)
AND read their designer's advice on getting better with graphic design here

Sean McCabe says, “It all starts with writing.” And after listening to over 200 episodes of his fantastic seanwes podcast, I thought I understood. I thought I got it.

But once we started developing content for our rebrand, I soon realized that it ALL starts with writing.

Because if you want to run your business strategically, with focus & purpose, you must write everything down first.

But you know? The funniest thing happened.

The more we wrote, the more we fell in love with our new brand! Because the more we wrote, the more we realized just how much of a need there was for what we are creating. We realized just how much we wanted to serve our customers. And we realized just how much we had to offer them.

The Good News: Writing Can Grow Your Brand (and Business!)

You may think you’re doing enough writing for your brand, but I’d wager that you aren’t.

Selling on your own online platform? Great! You likely expect that every single page need words written by you.

But what about automatic email response templates written in your brand voice instead of the default robo-response?

What about a landing page where you can articulate the prospective customer’s pain points and offer them your solution?

What about the content marketing that’s going to lead people back to that landing page?

Planning a photo shoot? Remember that even though you’ll be taking still shots, you are trying to tell a story. And a story needs a script. You’re going to want to plan out everything in writing–the goals you want to achieve, the feelings you want to evoke & the action you want the viewer of that photo to take.

Selling a product? Of course you’re planning on writing copy for the description on your website and for the product labels. But have you considered drafting a script for the unboxing experience you want for your customers?

How about an on-brand questionnaire for gathering customer testimonials & reviews?

What if you could write a killer email to follow up with a customer after her purchase and turn her from a satisfied customer to an ardent brand ambassador?

The Bad News: You’re Already Behind on Your Writing!

Now, that probably seems like a lot more writing than you expected. But here’s the thing: if you want to work with a professional designer on your rebrand, you need to be prepared to do most of that writing before the designer can effectively start working.

All of our writing for the rebrand can be put into four categories:

  1. Logo & Visual Identity
  2. Website
  3. Content Marketing (I’ll cover this in-depth in a future post)
  4. Customer Relations (same for this one)

We had already written a wealth of material even before approaching a designer, in order to solidify our sense of who we are as a brand. This includes:

  • Our mission, vision, and core values
  • A detailed list of short, medium & long-term business goals
  • A 20-page business plan
  • An in-depth customer profile
  • An outline of our brand differentiator, brand personality & writing style-guide

But now we needed to get specific and write down the details of what we wanted a new logo & look to accomplish. And since we sell physical products, we needed to specify each and every component of our products, their dimensions and–most importantly–their role in the customer’s overall experience of our brand.

We sell educational kits, so that means that there were a lot of kit components that were going to be touched by any changes to the visual identity.

Here’s a partial list of the kinds of writing we gave to our designer, just for the logo & visual identity portion of the rebrand:

  • Explanation of the reason for the company name and tagline
  • Description of the business goals of our rebrand
  • Packaging & labeling content, including brief product descriptions, kit contents, and “About Us” blurb
  • Packaging & labeling content guidelines, as well as relevant government regulations
  • Comprehensive customer profile, demographic & psychographic
  • Detailed script of our ideal customer unboxing experience
  • Copy for four kit Instructional Activity Booklets
  • Backstories for the “HoneyBee Heroines,” a team of fictional girls with Big Dreams & interests in four different career paths

We also did a ton of writing in prep for the website, including:

  • An outline of the desired “buyer’s journey” for visitors to our website
  • Home Page copy that could resonate with our ideal customer
  • About Us copy that spoke more to what our customer cared about than a simple bio
  • Product & collection descriptions that could help a prospective customer connect the dots between their story and ours
  • A FAQ that would help put customer concerns at ease
  • Policies pages that would reinforce a sense of customer service & satisfaction but also established a sense of fairness in the relationship
  • Clearly stated goals for our Hero Shot photos, including emotional goals (how did we want the customer to feel when she saw those shots?)
  • Plans for business growth and our vision of how future website expansion could facilitate that

All told, it was tens of thousands of words. Some of it required several rounds of revision, as discussions with the design team revealed what we needed to clarify.

It Takes a Village

And at this point, we really started to understand the benefits of working with a design team.

I already mentioned our incredible designer, but once we started working on the website, the talents of the rest of the team really began to shine!

We coordinated and refined written copy with the team’s copy editor, a professional who truly understood our brand and was able to apply her skills to wordsmith our first drafts.

We worked closely with a professional product photographer to produce the two hero shots on our website. We had written an extensive script of the emotions, reactions & impressions that we wanted our photos to communicate. Because we had written so much, our photographer had everything she needed in order to design, compose & produce two exquisite shots will really resonate.

And all of the activity, deadlines, deliverables & billing was handled by the team’s project manager.

Tools Do Not a Craftsman Make…But They Sure Help

So how do you coordinate all of this content with a team of professionals that literally span the globe? Basecamp. With Basecamp, we were able to keep track of every conversation, upload & share files with ease and stay on schedule.

There was never any risk of losing a crucial piece of information like there would have been if we had used email to coordinate. At the end of each day, we would receive a digest of any updates or changes in the project. It was a wonderful way to manage a project of this complexity and scope.

And how did Stacia and I keep track of the thousands of different documents, ideas, notes & to-do lists? How did we collaborate so that we were working to write content together? How did we avoid working at cross-purposes?

We used Evernote for pretty much everything. Over the course of this rebrand, I went from “Meh…” to “Yeah!” on Evernote. While it leaves a lot to be desired with respect to configuration management (I hear that the higher priced option does this), it has been a great tool for keeping track of every little detail that went into our work.

Next Time: While we worked the content, our designer was building the style, look & feel of our brand. When she sent us the brand guide…we were blown away. Not sure what a brand guide is? I’ll talk about why it’s going to become your new best friend, personal assistant & daily affirmation all rolled into one.

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