This month Brand Shepherd turns 5 years old, and we are going to offer 5 blog posts over 5 days to mark our 5th year in business. Here’s what to expect:

  • Today: Thank You + Meet The Team
  • Tuesday: 5 Lessons Learned from Failure
  • Wednesday: 5 Lessons Learned from Success
  • Thursday: 5 Goals for the Next 5 Years
  • Friday: Our Startup Story

5yr_blockThank You

Before any of that gets started, though, we mark our 5th year in business with gratitude. For a lot of businesses the last five years have been very rocky, and some have had to close shop. The Great Recession provided uncertainty at best, and an unreasonable business environment at worst. Yet thanks to the people we work with, our little firm kept going, navigating our way around obstacles with loads of help from clients, peers, and friends.

So, thank you! To everyone who chose Brand Shepherd to work with, to everyone who referred us over and over, and to everyone who trusted us to build a brand shepherding relationship with your business: Thank you.

Andrea and I (Dan) are humbled when we think about it, and to be very honest with you, we thank God and pray for the people we work with and your businesses.

Meet The Team

In 2012 we sent out a survey to most of our clients and vendors to get a feel for how we are doing. The feedback was incredibly helpful. Thank you for everyone who took part in that survey.

One sentiment we heard several times was that a perception exists that Brand Shepherd is just me (Dan) with a company name for what I, alone, do. This couldn’t be further from reality, and it opened my eyes to a perception problem that I had created, since I am typically “the face” of the business. Given how hard we have worked to build a team of trusted and talented people over the years, fixing this perception became a top priority.

This website now features a page for our team, and on it you will see the people who do the bulk of the work. Brand Shepherd could not exist without these very valuable people working on everything we produce. While it’s true that I (Dan) am “the face” of the business, there’s a team working to produce great results. And in addition to these four, we have a few more designers, coders, and photographers whom we work with on many projects where a specialty skill or experience is needed.

The point is: Brand Shepherd is made up of a lot more than just me, and credit is due to the team that allows us to do what we do.

More!

Tomorrow’s blog in this series of 5 Blogs Over 5 Days To Mark 5 Years In Business (that’s a long title!) is all about failure.

If you’ve read this blog for a while you know failure is a topic I like to write about. How much an organization or person embraces and expects failure is a direct indicator of how much success will be embraced and expected. Tomorrow’s blog entitled “5 Lessons Learned From Failure” will cover what we’ve learned from our various failures so far.

<a href=”//thenounproject.com/noun/birthday-cake/#icon-No988″ target=”_blank”>Birthday Cake</a> designed by <a href=”//thenounproject.com/grantwdesign” target=”_blank”>Grant Wilson</a> from The Noun Project

 

Since my last post about how Brand Shepherd is becoming mobile-first we’ve had a lot happen around here.

First: We were hacked.

We were alerted that browsers were sounding an alarm when they were pointed here at our website, and after looking at it more we saw that part of our website had been hit with malware. Normally when a website is hit with some type of hack we just revert back to the most recent, clean backup. But this time I felt that it was time to use this annoyance as an opportunity.

The now old Brand Shepherd website was taken down, and we rebuilt our website from the ground up using what we’ve been learning about mobile-first thinking.

Mobile-First: Us First.

This blog series has been all about logging the journey. The predictable process would have been to make a mobile-first change, announce it, market it, and sell it. But that is boring and predictable. As a designer, I see and know that design is 100% about process, so my goal here is to log the process of changing our way of thinking, then showing the tangibles.

This new website is the first tangible.

What you’re looking at now, no matter the device you’re on, is called a responsive designed website. Recently tech news giants BGR made the switch to responsive design, and summed it up really well:

We also wanted to design a site that reflected the current state of the web, and how everyone accesses BGR. A desktop, a tablet and a mobile phone should all provide the same website experience regardless of how you read BGR and we do that now with a website that uses responsive design. No mobile themes and no redirects to a subdomain, just the same site.”  [original post]

That is about as good an explanation of responsive web design as can be found or written. It also sums up the big idea behind mobile-first: The same experience regardless of device.

As we set out to meet with businesses and talk about their mobile strategies, and how they are positioning themselves on an increasingly mobile web I felt that Brand Shepherd needed to go through this process first. I am not a fan of folks who sell me on ideas they’ve not experienced, so it is very important that we take a “us first” approach in order to share what we learn.

The soft sell: Maybe a mobile strategy is on your mind. Maybe it’s not, and you just had an “oh, crap” moment in realizing you should have a mobile strategy. Let’s talk about it. Let’s see what we can do together to see that your visitors and users experience your web presence the same way regardless of device.

HOW Interactive Design recently interviewed Brand Shepherd co-owner, Dan Crask, on how he transitioned from being a print-only designer to being a print-and-web designer.

Click here to read the interview.

 

Late December brings oodles of Top 10 lists, and the lists that get the most play are the Fail/Flop lists. CNN had a list of the 10 Biggest Tech Fails of 2010, the Brand New blog (a daily read for us) a list of the Top 10 Worst Identities of 2010, and even TripAdvisor has its list of Top 10 Dirtiest Hotels of 2010 (yikes!).

My twitter feed has been full of all sorts of Top 10 Fails, Top 10 Busts, Top 10 _____ lists for the last week or so, and all this focus on failure draws out of me how I approach failure.

The lists on tech blogs bring into sharp focus my take on failure. In the link above to CNN’s list of tech fails, Apple’s antenna and Ping problems make the cut. In a list I found on The Huffington Post, Google’s Wave and Buzz failures are top failures of 2010.

To me, though, these failures were not bad failures. They were executed ideas tossed into the arena of ideas and consumption, and some were found to be outright rejected in their current form (Ping), while other ideas are before their time (Wave). I worry that so much focus on failure might put even a drop of hesitation into someone’s mind about bringing their idea to the table for fear of failure.

I don’t discount that these lists cite legit failures in myriad ways. Facebook’s Places product comes to mind as a logical outworking of the overall Facebook brand and product offering, but what was released to the public was simply an incomplete execution. Checking into a place on Facebook Places is not nearly as attractive as Foursquare. The point is, however, Facebook Places brings competition, and out of that competition we get upgrades to the products we like such as Foursquare adding photos and comments to venues and checkins. That’s a big win for all of us out of  the failure of a different product.

In 2010 Brand Shepherd had  a few failures, too. I won’t cite the 2-3 projects that come to mind because to do so – calling them failures – would be to put a negative light on a business or brand that might not see what we did as a failure. Point is, in each of our failures we took something useful from it – a change in how we conduct business, a change in vendors, a change in the process we use or the process we expect.

All of this isn’t new – this is pretty much the typical “failure is useful” speech. Take it for what it’s worth: Another voice in the choir of those who find entertainment value in Top 10 Failure lists, but the bigger picture is that of great usefulness out of failure.

So come fail away, come fail away, come fail away with me!