The Five Pillars of a Well Designed Brand Strategy


Ryan Zanardi

Ryan Zanardi

Words by Stephanie H

Here at Lore, we believe that storytelling is essential to building a strong brand that connects with your audience, but how do you go about it? In this post, we are going to discuss the top 5 things we focus on when building an intentional brand strategy for your business. Before we begin any design project, we deep dive into what we call Brand Strategy. The purpose is to discover who you are and what makes your business unique. It’s a process we’ve honed to get to know you and your business on a deeper level in order to craft a meaningful and compelling visual narrative that tells your story. We’ve simplified our process into 5 core pillars, which allow us to get to the heart of who you are, who you want to reach and how you want your business to be perceived.

1. Uncover your origin story

Every business has a unique story. Digging deeper into how your business began and why you do what you do, provides a powerful insight to develop a strong visual brand and connect with your audience. Your story, your values, and your purpose are what connect you with the people you want to reach. Defining and strengthening these connection points with your ideal clients, help to bridge the gap – and create a level of trust that encourages them to do business with you.

2. Identify your goals

It’s important for us to know what is going to make the project successful in your eyes. There are often clearly defined measurable goals – which could be anything from increasing your brand awareness, earning brand loyalty, establishing a more professional presence or even positioning yourself as the authority in your industry. However, there are usually immeasurable goals as well – such as making a positive impact on the world, which are just as important when it comes to developing a brand that authentically represents you, strengthens your connection with your audience and ultimately achieves the goals you’ve set in place for your business.

3. Define your target audience

Who do you want to reach? We want to get specific in defining who you serve and how. What are their likes and dislikes? What do they value? What pain points do they face? This allows us to find where you and your ideal client or customer intersect and craft your visual identity to attract these individuals. Getting specific here is the difference between designing a brand that’s just lovely to look at, versus one that’s inherently strategic.

“A good story is not just something to read on a page, it’s an experience.”

4. Define your competition

Which other brands are trying to reach the same people? Once we determine your competition we can research the market and industry standards to ensure that you stand out in the eyes of your people, with a brand that undoubtedly reflects you. It’s incredibly powerful to have a quality brand and digital experience that stands out from the crowd and showcases what makes you truly unique.

5. Develop a visual direction

Now that we’ve gained significant clarity and have a strong foundation, we begin to take all the information from this phase and use it as the framework for creating a visual direction that articulates who you are, connects with your audience, and ultimately represents your business in a way that is authentically and strategically you.

Ultimately, the golden rule is -
Be strategic with your branding. A strong brand strategy is the foundation of your business.

Why Your Website Needs a Digital Strategy


Ryan Zanardi

Ryan Zanardi

Words by Ryan Z

The average human attention span is eight seconds – one second less than that of a goldfish. So, in today’s digital environment, how can a business expect to deliver its message before visitors move on? To use an analogy, think of your online presence as a fishing net. Social media accounts and search engine listings are all part of an elaborate cast with the goal of capturing browsers and turning them into buyers. At the center of that net resides your website.

Many companies, though, think of their website the same way they do voicemails – set it, then forget about it. Going back to the fishing analogy, this is the metaphorical equivalent to casting a net with a giant hole in the middle. You’ll go through all the motions, but end up with nothing to show for it – and this is where most business owners are at in their digital marketing journey. They’re doing all the “right” things – boosting Facebook posts, blogging once a week, posting on Instagram twice a day, yet they have nothing to show for it.

"They want to see a direct connection between digital marketing and increased revenue."

When business owners tell me their digital marketing campaigns “don’t seem to be working,” it’s typically because they can’t find a tangible return on investment. They’re not impressed by the amount of retweets they get or Facebook likes they have. They want to see a direct connection between digital marketing and increased revenue.

In many cases, the front end of their digital marketing presence is working pretty well. Social media is active, users engage consistently and their email open rate is pushing a healthy 25%. Web traffic is up overall, but the number of orders is plateauing or growing at a rate slower than expected. And more times than not, it’s because the website isn’t designed to convert leads into sales.

To that end, here are four things to keep in mind when creating a website strategy:

There are two types of landing pages

Before you begin adding text to a web page, it’s crucial to understand what type of page you’re working on. All web pages fall into one of two categories – they’re either sales pages or content marketing pages.

Pages that are designed to sell include evidence, answer questions, showcase work, and make benefit statements. They typically don’t have a lot of different links taking you to a hundred different places. These pages are designed to take visitors down your sales funnel and motivate them into action.

Content marketing pages have a different objective – to engage with your audience and drum up new traffic. These pages contain blog posts, videos, infographics and visuals, and typically contain links to other content pages. The goal here is to gain new traffic by offering up relevant and interesting information, as well as keep visitors on your site and engaged for as long as possible. YouTube does this incredibly well by taking you into a related video after your current video ends.

Understanding the type of page you’re working on will help you think through the strategy needed to deliver those results.

What’s the goal of your website?

More often than not, the goal of a website is to sell products and services. Whether you’re a retail store looking to move inventory or a designer looking to increase project inquiries, the end goal is the same – selling. While most sites follow this model, it’s important to note that not all websites are designed this way. Some companies just want to focus on educating their customers while others have more business than they know what to do with, and simply want a way to showcase their work on a high-quality platform. Identifying your key performance indicators is the first step in thinking through your web strategy.

Responsive design is a must

Recent studies have shown that 82% of all customers will research their options online before deciding where to spend their money. To add another layer to the equation, a 2016 study found that 51% of all web browsing takes place on mobile phones and tablets, overtaking desktop browsing.

So what does that mean for you and your business? It means that four out of five customers are researching you online, and at least two of those four are doing it on their cellphones. As smart phones advance and internet speeds increase, mobile-friendly functionality is a critical component of every website.

Use Google Analytics to make better business decisions

While it may seem complicated, linking your website to a Google Analytics Account takes less than five minutes to complete. If you’re a DIY-er, you can find plenty of YouTube tutorials walking you through the setup, step by step. It’s worth the trouble. Google Analytics offers insights to user behavior that can be invaluable when making decisions about your business, in both the digital and physical space: the pages that lead to sales, entry and exit points, how long visitors stay on your site, and countless other pieces of information that help you better understand your buyer behavior.

Getting Started with Instagram, for Interior Designers


Ryan Zanardi

Ryan Zanardi

Words by Ryan Z

Instagram is arguably the fastest growing platform for designers around the world. Its function is straightforward – and its interface is beautifully simple. Instagram is the no-nonsense platform that Facebook used to be, which is why its popularity is so wide spread. Opting out of events, status updates and annoying game invitations, Instagram has managed to stay true to its original function: sharing photos. It goes without saying that visuals are paramount within the design community. After all, what better way to show off your most recent project than a eye-catching room vignette? And what if you could take that eye-catching vignette and develop your brand via a free, online portfolio that (if done correctly) automatically connects you to thousands of like-minded individuals worldwide? If that interests you, then you need to join the Instagram bandwagon. If you’re one of the half-billion people that are already onboard, check out these hacks to help grow your account:

Make your personal account, a business account

This one won’t make or break your Instagram experience, but it’s at least worth mentioning. If your company has a Facebook page, then you have the ability to turn your Instagram account into a business account. Why would you do this? Business accounts have access to extra features that personal accounts just don’t have. For example, business accounts can run ads in conjunction with your Facebook ads, and even show you metrics and other useful information. It’s not a make or break scenario for most designers, but it does offer your followers an easier way to contact you.

Understand what hashtags are, and how you can use them

One question I get a lot is “what is a hashtag and what does it mean to me” – well let’s make sure we’re all on the same page. A hashtag is a way to connect social media posts from users worldwide, using a word or phrase after the pound (or hash) sign. You’ve probably noticed hashtags at events like #HPMKT for High Point Market, but they can also be used for special promotions and some are even weekly social trends like #TBT for “Throwback Thursday”. These are all just examples of another way to connect content with relevant users. For example, if you were to post a photo on instagram and add #InteriorDesign to your caption, it would show up on the search results for anyone else looking at #InteriorDesign. While you may not be actively searching hashtags, I can assure you that millions of other users are.

This brings me to my next point: using hashtags to expand your organic reach. Social media is all about putting your content in front of where people are already looking. Instagram has a limit of 30 hashtags in a comment, which gives you 30 opportunities to interject your content into 30 different conversations. If you’re not maximizing the use of hashtags on all your posts, you’re missing out on being discovered by millions of potential followers. However, just because you have a maximum of thirty tags doesn’t mean you should just pick them at random. You’ll want to put some thought into what your important keywords are and base your hashtags around that strategy.

If you have a new room shot you want to post, take a few minutes to think about some important keywords and then do a little research into how popular that hashtag is (doesn’t do you any good to inject your content into a conversation that no one’s having). You may decide to start with some basics that describe you and/or your company (e.g: #InteriorDesign, #ProductDesign), then move on to a couple of variations to make sure you’re accounting for all contexts (e.g: #InteriorDesigners, #ProductDesigners). Maybe your post is a room shot of a beautiful living room you just finished for a client, you could include descriptive tags like #LivingRoom, #MidCenturyModern, #Groovy and more. Another way people use hashtags is to inject their content into their competitors audience. For example, AT&T may announce a great Black Friday deal and tag #VerizonWireless in the post in an attempt to convert their customers.

Hide your hashtags with comment truncation

We’ve already covered why hashtags are important, but again, here at Lore Studio we’re all about maintaining the aesthetics. Your profile wouldn’t look great with thirty hashtags at the end of every post. So what can we do? Luckily, all you have to do is learn to navigate Instagram’s automatic comment truncation. “The gram” knows that in order to maintain its user experience, they had to shorten comments and descriptions that are particularly lengthy. If you use this simple hack, you can hide your hashtags with a clean […] instead of all that text. In the notes section of your phone, create a new note with 5 separate lines of “.” and then add your hashtags below.