Case Study 1: GDVSource
I have to say, this is one of the most stimulating / colossal projects I have taken on as a strategic + visual designer. Breaking it down as a case study and explaining my passion and process of what is behind my methodology (Discover, Define, Design, Develop, Deploy) and the journey I took to produce successful results, no matter the project pitfalls along the way, demonstrates just how determined I am to see it through: to not only make the client euphoric but to show you, as a designer, just how much I care about what gets put out in the world of design.
GDVSource or “Gas Discharge Visualization,” as its acronym is described was at first in my mind a “product from Mars.” So “what” and “who” is GDVSource? Well, simply put it is an energy measurement company that trains, educates and sells products and services to alternative healers, medical professionals, and “spiritual curious” practitioners. The company distributes products nationally as well as internationally. Kirlian photography for the novice is the device that is used to measure the body’s energy or vibrational frequency wave. Mary Milroy, or the “Source” as I like to define her in the brand story; signified in the identity word-mark that I created, embraces all things energy healing. In August 2014, Mary approached me to redesign her company’s brand visuals and website to new heights.
1. The goal was to originally do an up grade of the company’s brand visual system and carry that over to the website but as I embarked on that odyssey, I realized that this was a much bigger nut to crack and the structure was, let’s just say, ambiguous! Not just with defining Mary’s role and her strengths / areas of improvement but clarifying her business edifice as well as her target audience. “Who” were we going to be building her site for and what needs did they have? Making something look pretty is one thing but rolling out a whole new foundation is another and that’s basically what I did for GDVSource starting with the first discovery phase.
2. Discover Meeting 1: The first goal was to understand the pre-existing business model, website and how Mary set up the company to begin with. We took part in an ideation exploratory meeting to flush out holes within the business structure, and began brain-storming the bigger picture of where she saw the company going in 2 to 5 years and measuring long-term success and clear objectives.
3. Discover Meeting 2: Clarifying the business priorities on training & products and running a core business analysis.
4. Communicating a clear brand message / promise.
5. The branding brief goals were: The competitive advantages, key competitors, conducting a SWOT analysis, value proposition, mission, attributes, stakeholders internal and external, etc.
6. Breaking down the data so we had a clear, concise charter to steer the ship and a story to tell to consumers.
7. Giving the company new brand recognition; cultivating a new “Ethos” that really signified and conveyed what the company stood for visually without cognitive overload internal and external.
8. Adhering to the client’s budget, developing a responsive CMS website benchmarked the best solution to support maintenance and access from all devices.
9. Meeting 3: The key goal was to bridge the gap of the business eco-system and align it to the users needs & goals, thus finally congealing it into the online experience as well as designing a “user centered” prototype to test against.
10. The Final step was to explain this process in a formal Brand / UX presentation which was accomplished successful.
1. One hurdle was to convey to the client just how important it is to understand we are building this framework for the user “aka consumer.”
2. I achieved this with a series of brand briefs, strategy meetings and some pretty hardline questions: to my saving grace, my client started to better understand the importance of the strategy.
3. Structuring the tagline, nomenclatures of content, category taxonomies, training levels, packages, and painting a picture of just “who” GDVSource serves and how she was conveying that information to not only her existing audience, but to her new target consumer base.
4. Communicating graphically what an energy vibrational wave looks like.
5. Conducting my UX interviews with the initial target audience showed that most users didn’t engage much with the pre-existing website. If that user pool and the budget were larger, I would have implemented Google Analytics prior to doing qualitative research. Before development begins, I will recommend to the client to install Analytics so we can do a comparison and contrast on quantitative data moving forward.
6. Understanding and flushing out the pain-points of the prototype design iterations.
I wanted to base the logo + application designs off the principals of the company’s new mission that states “transforming peoples’ lives” becomes at the core of what it believes and embraced in its brand spirit. After conducting the business and brand analysis, I felt the company just didn’t work visually as the cliché “global” leader anymore, and believe it was not rooted in fact. Positioning and conveying as such was not only of benefit to the company’s message but also for the consumer who needs to understand it better. My thoughts: How could I say, “transforming” graphically? I researched the property colors of the chakra system and the seven meridian points of the body, which the device could read and measure with incredible accuracy. The results: The creation of the “vibrational chakra wave” as I coined it. This design could be used not only as an eye catching super graphic on all the brand collaterals, but also as a subliminal clarifier as to “what” this company embodied at its basic level. As for the word mark design for the company, I kept it simple by just replacing the font with “AmpleAlt” a new, modern, graphically strong typeface that commands the viewer’s attention and is suitable for titles, headlines, etc. Switching out the old lower case with all upper case helped lift the logo out of the personal subtlety into the industry leader without being over-the-top pretentious.
After holding our Branding / UX presentation, there was a real sense of accomplishment on both sides. Four months in the making and bringing it all together was an exciting moment! A highlight was defining a definitive path that was now aligned with the business/user/web goals. With these components in place executing a brand system we could convey what the company stands for with a congruent message. Confidence is now growing and the client is excited about the future. The company is now up-leveled to attract future investors and satisfy the needs of the users. This case study is cyclical and measuring substantiating success is continuous.
We need to roll out the new brand, develop an internal guideline book, build out the rest of the high-fidelity responsive prototype, finalize the content strategy, new product & training photography & videos, testing on the new target markets & iterations, working with developers to understand technical caveats and meeting web goals etc, Google Analytics, social media mapping. Brand management will also be included on this list. I feel like this project encapsulates all my years of design experience rolled-up into one word ~ passion!