RedHouse Media is an advertising agency of long-standing in Brainerd, Minnesota, where they specialize in traditional marketing, creative work and photography for clients of all types. They have a well-defined brand and had a company blog that was not serving their needs as they began to grow and get more involved on social networks.
Because RedHouse does design, they had a good idea of what they wanted their blog to do, but didn’t have the developers or experienced blog designers to bring it to life. When Aaron met Kristi on Twitter in 2009, it seemed like a great complement of skills, so they hired us to design and develop what they envisioned. Since we are both design agencies, it was easy to stay on the same page regarding the creative approach!
Extending the Brand
Kristi liked the chalkboard effect they use in their website, and wanted the blog to be a seamless transition and extension of the site, rather than feel like a separate site like their existing blog did. To achieve the transition, she took the header, footer and page shell from the main site and used that as the framework for the blog. Now, when visitors click in the header navigation they go from site to blog without realizing they are actually on two different domains (the blog has a unique address so it can be used as a standalone site, too.)
This level of detail is not something that can be done with an off-the-shelf theme. This blog was designed from scratch and new fonts and images were used that complemented the RedHouse Media brand so that it appeared to be 100% authentic for their brand… this is not the brand and style of a theme designer or even our particular style.
Though it’s not immediately obvious, there are a number of small details we designed and coded in this blog that give it some enhanced functionality or enabled us to extend the brand:
- They have an email newsletter, that we added a submission form for in the sidebar for easy subscription.
- They have a special calendar of events that function like blog posts. Upcoming events display in the sidebar, and when clicked you can see full text, pictures, video or whatever one could put in a blog post, for the entry.
- We found adorable and free social media icons that looked appropriately “chalkboard-drawn” in addition to some chalkboard-styled fonts, that bring character and distinction it in keeping with the main site design.
- We used the Twitter api to post the latest tweets from each team member, plus the latest tweets that mention @RedHouseMedia
- A lot of sites use the Tweetmeme “Retweet” badge, but we opted to use another one that we could customize colors for to match this site. A palette of reds, grays and charcoals is continually used to keep this brand tight and we didn’t want to alter that with third-party badges that would disrupt the flow.
- The most recent video they post shows up automatically in the sidebar.
- “Latest Comments” in the footer, in addition to Recent Posts, give visitors an indication of what’s being discussed right now on the blog and within the company.
The best end result for us is a satisfied client, and RedHouse Media has expressed satisfaction and appreciation for the details we brought to the process of designing theirblog. As Aaron Hautala, founder of RedHouse Media told Fresh ID CEO Lisa Qualls,
We’re getting good responses from visitors and clients; mission accomplished! We test all contractors on the RedHouse brand first, and we’re very satisfied with the style and quality of work you produced for us. I’d like to partner on client blog development in the future based on this experience. I like that we didn’t have to pay you to learn – other providers we spoke with kept telling me “how hard” it was going to be to do what we wanted, but your team didn’t. I appreciated the pushback on design problems and liked that Kristi used her knowledge to solve the design issues, instead of saying “that’s not going to work.” Having a designer with a similar vision (bigger than normal) who gets excited about our ideas is a major plus!
We were excited to hear that in January 2010, the RedHouse Media team won a Gold Addy for their site and complementing blog by the American Advertising Federation of Central Minnesota. As if we weren’t already pleased with how this project turned out!
We look forward to partnering with RedHouseMedia on more creative work in the future. Check out the live blog now!