Brand Strategy, Visual Identity, Copywriting, Social Media Strategy, Responsive Website, Print Collateral, Photography, Truck & Sign Design
Nicholas Hill was asked to take over Ritchie Custom Homes when his boss, Ted Ritchie, was thinking about stepping down. They spent four years working together and sharing information before the company was fully handed over into the capable hands of Nick. The original vision of being a progressive home builder in the Okanagan Valley in B.C. Canada has only grown in recent years as Nick has implemented new technologies and kept up with emerging trends in sustainable living. This company is rich with history and experience so we were honored to join their team!
There wasn’t anything inherently wrong with this brand and they certainly weren’t hurting for business. Their reputation is well-known in their industry and geographic area and they had already lined up a substantial amount of work for the coming year. What Nick was concerned about, however, is all communication efforts outside of a testimonial or face-to-face interaction fell short of what what really motivated them as a company.
In this industry, you will find that most competitors presented their work in a similar way: highly architectural and sterile. While that may actually be reflective of their brand’s personality, the Ritchie team is far more personal in their approach. There is a common desire to help make client’s visions come true as opposed to forcing them into a design or build experience that is comfortable for the team.
We had the priviledge of seeing this first-hand when we flew up to Penticton to work with Nick and his crew. As we took a tour of the Naramata Bench, it was obvious that no two homes in the Ritchie portfolio had the same style. What was more obvious was that he absolutely loves where he lives and is genuinly excited to help others create an environment where they can experience the same lifestyle that he has grown to love. We were able to fully emerse ourselves in the Naramta Bench culture because of how much Nick and his family love this area. From wine tasting, to apple picking, to cycling to running on a historic path, we were sold on the fact that the Ritchie brand wasn’t just about building homes, it was about building a lifestyle.
We had solidified the brand strategy and much of the foundational visual identity before our time in B.C. The trip, however, confirmed the direction we were already headed and gave us more ammunition to tie up loose ends to the various touch points of the brand’s reach (including website, magazine ads, truck design, signage and print materials).
OUR CUSTOM SOLUTION
As with all of our projects, we begin with Brand Therapy ™. This process is critical to getting everyone from our clients to our internal BDB staff on the same page. The questions we address during this phase are meant to guide each client through the strategic elements of building a strong brand. The information then serves as an internal guideline for the client in making decisions moving forward and as the driver for our design team to create thoughtful identity pieces that solve communication problems for the brand. For Ritchie, carving out weekly meetings to discuss areas of their business they typically don’t have time for, proved to spark momentum and enthusiasm for Nick and his team. They felt renewed by possibilities and encouraged by how far they had come.
When we are creating custom logos and icons for clients, it’s important to explore all the options that fall within the scope of the brand’s strategy. The process includes three rounds of options. The first round is your 30,000 foot view with approximately 27 variations. Our Creative Director presents the options on Skype by sharing his screen and we are able to cancel out options that aren’t resonating while marking the ones we’d like to explore for the next round.
Round two is where we present another batch of options that are specific to the concepts Ritchie wanted to explore in round one. Our Creative Director then shares his screen and conducts live design so everyone feels like they’re a part of the collaborative process. For Nick and his team, this is the round that things really started to come together. They asked to explore a few options and by the end of the call we had two solid options for the team to mull over!
Round three was used to discuss which of the two options were most appropriate and versitile for the brand. It was in this call that we were also made aware that Ritchie may be expanding to Vancouver in the future, not to mention the possibility of other branches. This made it easy for us to suggest a direction that they could grow into. We even showed them what other branches could look like and the excitement was palpable! We had made a decision and it was time to move forward!
ONLINE & IN PERSON
We get really excited about this part of the brand process because this is where things start to come to life.
While the website, especially these days, is critical, we’re considering all brand touch points once we get to this phase. With Ritchie, we new the target demographic was a successful professional in their late-mid 50s who loved to host, travel and drink wine. We knew that they were tech savvy and appreciated well-designed experiences. That said, we didn’t feel it would be appropriate to get crazy with all the options web currently affords.
We agreed that these clients are regualarly on the go, so a responsive site that would be mobile friendly would be a non-negotiable. We also wanted to showcase the homes in a manner that was warm and inviting, not sterile and strictly architectural.
ADDITIONAL MARKETING PIECES
As we were going through the process, the opportunity for the Ritchie brand to take out ads in prominent home magazines came up. We decided to create a full-page ad that had texture and warmth while still remaining clean in its overall aesthetic. The photographer who had shot the home we showcased in the ad was then called in to photograph the remaining homes we would want to show on the website. Building the ad was a catalyst in figuring out how the website would look and feel, not to mention how we would want imagery to be shot.
When we scheduled the trip to B.C., we made sure to be there when the photographer, Janis Nicolay, was set to shoot. We worked in tandem with her and to get the imagery we needed for web and print pieces. We couldn’t have been happier with the end product and absolutely loved working with Janis. Her experience in architectural photography is unmatched and watching her and Gary set up shots was like watching two kids in a sandbox creating magic.
While Janis was doing her thing, we were often shooting our own behind-the-scenes images with Nick and his team. We knew we would want grittier images of a home in progress, not just the finished product so we maximized our time and covered both within a two-day period.
Each morning, we would cover major decisions that had to be made from a strategic standpoint so that the work we did would be well-informed and thoughtful. We made so much headway by meeting with the team in-person and having all hands on deck for that short period.
After we arrived back in L.A. we were armed with all the pieces we needed to start bringing this interactive pieces of this brand together. We tackled web copy and layout while covering signage, truck design and print collateral. As the pieces came together, Nick and his team could finally see the result of all their hard work! We couldn’t be happier with how this brand came together and are proud of the relationship we built with these incredible people at Ritchie.
This isn’t the last you’ve heard of this partnership. We’re in an ongoing relationship to make sure all touch points are covered and other branches of the Ritchie Brand are in line with the strategy and visual aesthetics. We’re looking forward to showing you more!
“When we first approached BDB we were unsure of exactly what it was we needed, we just knew that the Ritchie brand needed a bit of an overhaul. As our business was growing we wanted a brand and website that matched the sophisticated clientele we were working with and one that spoke clearly to our values as a company.
Our first conversation with Krysta was all we needed to know that working with BDB would give us the overhaul we were looking for, even if we weren’t exactly sure what that was. We connected with her instantly on a personal and business level, which made us feel confident that her and her team would help us get to where we needed to be.
After signing on we quickly set to work with Krysta on the brand strategy process. Our weekly conversations over Skype helped clarify and nail down exactly what we felt our company stood for and how to further grow our business in that direction.
Next came the logo design stage, enter Gary, designer extrordinaire. We were blown away with how quickly he was able to take the thoughts and visions we had in our heads, the brand strategy we created with Krysta, and zero in on a logo and overall brand design that reflected our business perfectly. Based on prior experience in developing our first logo, we had expected this part of the process to be long, arduous, and a little disappointing. On the contrary it was fun and exciting to see our brand start to come to life!
The design of our website and print materials has been an equalling enjoyable and successful process. Once the design of the website was finalized, Caleb made the tech process involved in taking our website live, as smooth and easy as we could hope.
One of the most surprising and definitely top 3 moments of this whole process, was about mid-way through getting an email from Krysta suggesting that she and Gary make a little trip up to Canada. So much of our business brand is seeped in our location and lifestyle of the area, it seemed like the obvious choice that Gary and Krysta should come up and experience it for themselves. We timed their trip with that of a photography shoot for one of our homes, so that they could help us nail the imagery we were getting done for our website. In a little over a day and a half, we photographed 3 homes and 1 winery, talked non-stop about ideas for our business and brand, mountain biked, wine toured, and enjoyed some great food and wine together. Our skype calls never felt impersonal but getting to spend time with Gary and Krysta face to face in our home town, talking brand design, and getting to know more about each other added so much to our experience of working with them. For any location based businesses, we would definitely recommend considering hosting this dynamic duo, we promise you will not be disappointed.
We are extremely proud of our new brand and website and excited by all the future developments of our company as a direct result of our relationship with the BDB team. They have helped us to think and dream big about the growth of Ritchie and have been invaluable guides in how to execute this growth successfully. We are so grateful to know Gary and Krysta, as brand geniuses but also very much as friends.”
– Nick and Jehanne Hill