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Jenna Kutcher is a master marketer. She has a devoted Instagram following (over 730k!), she runs three successful online courses, and her podcast, the Goal Digger Podcast, is consistently at the top of the podcast charts and has well over 10 million downloads on iTunes alone. The podcast is an incredible wealth of information and interviews – but has evolved quite a bit over the course of the past two years and 219 episodes.
If you listen to the podcast or follow her on social media, you know that Jenna is about as upbeat, encouraging, and open as they come. We have become conditioned to believe that nothing is really as it seems online, and to be honest it’s easy to assume that we are getting a falsified impression of someone’s personality, especially when they are an influencer with an enormous following. I just wanted to make a quick mention of the fact that Jenna is truly one of the most genuinely kind and thoughtful people I have ever met. She is one of the good ones, folks!
I began working with the Jenna Kutcher team in December of 2017 and the months have absolutely flown by. In that time I have designed all of the podcast graphics and hundreds of ads to promote the Pinterest, Instagram, and Photo Labs.
Jenna has well-established visual branding that has guided everything we have done in the past. But when fall rolled around this year, knowing that she would be out on maternity leave come December, we started to talk about some of the challenges that we were facing – starting to feel as though things were getting a little repetitive and stale, and also noticing a lot of podcasts popping up who had tapped into a similar aesthetic. So, we landed on the following objective:
- Kick off 2019 with a new look for the Goal Digger Podcast
- Visuals that are fun, quirky, and feel like you’re talking to a friend
- Vibrant and memorable
- Feels like the “next step” for the podcast
- Expands on existing brand elements and colors
The first step in my process was to do an audit of everything that was currently being shared for each episode (blog, social, etc.) to determine what was and was not working. Outside of Jenna being a client, I am an avid listener of the podcast so I was very familiar with the tone and feel of the content. I took some time to jot down words and notes about how the podcast feels and what I felt a next step would be. This is really mostly for me to get in a creative and forward-thinking mindset.
After the visual audit, I moved on to creating the color palette. We needed to work with the pale pink and blue that Jenna uses in her primary branding, and I knew that I wanted to create a concept that featured a pretty wide variety of colors. Jenna’s podcast and community feel a bit like one big optimistic and supportive girl boss party, and I wanted the overall aesthetic to reflect that. I made a mood board of the many images that I use of Jenna, and started to look for some visual trends – what colors were popping up consistently, what colors were missing, what images felt the most energetic. I pretty quickly started to see the color palette in my mind – this is kind of a weird designer thing, but I honestly “see” color palettes for most of my clients. For inspiration I love to pull photographs or look at a few older design books I keep in my studio. I try hard to stay off of Pinterest for inspiration, but that’s a conversation for another day!
Hand drawn components are a pretty signature element for Jenna’s aesthetic and are used consistently across her website, but I had a strong sense that I wanted to explore a serif typeface to ground and complement the colors that were coming together. The new typeface feels like a natural progression for the podcast, which is full of legitimate, real-world business advice from women who have paved their way in a wide variety of industries. This is serious stuff – but presented in a fun and relatable style. I made an initial selection and we tested about four other typefaces before landing back on the original choice. We did keep a few smaller hand drawn elements woven in for episode titles. Jenna hand-drew these and passed them along to me for implementation.
After the logo and color palette were complete I began work on a general concept and applied it to a small number of assets. In the first round of edits we refined the pattern from being a little too abstract and landed on the confetti style that we see today. After getting approval on the pattern, I built out the entire package to include the 8 assets that we use on a weekly basis for each podcast episode. There have been several small tweaks since then, making swaps for audio files and figuring out the best system for Jenna’s podcast manager to prep and share the graphics.
I am thrilled with how this project came together – there were many hands in the process, as we gathered feedback from Jenna’s team and that shaped the revisions as we moved through different design rounds. Ultimately I think we met our objectives and were able to kick off 2019 by re-introducing Jenna Kutcher fans and followers to the next chapter of the Goal Digger Podcast. As always I am so grateful for the opportunity to do this work every day, and to be a small part of a podcast that is changing the lives of entrepreneurs across the country and world. Cheers to a new look!
"Olivia is a unicorn in the design world – there, I said it. After feeling like our podcast visuals were looking a little flat, I wanted to refresh and start the new year with some color and personality. Olivia nailed the design, suggested edits, took on revisions and delivered the perfect finished product. Olivia has been an integral part of our team and we are so thankful that she has helped us breathe new life into our content." - Jenna Kutcher
Whew! This year honestly flew by. Like most years it was a mix of highs and lows, but was overwhelmingly a wonderful year and I have so much to be grateful for looking back on the past 12 months. I am a forward-thinking person who loves dreaming about the future, so I went through a pretty rigorous goal setting process for 2018 and ended up accomplishing 9 of the 15 goals that I set for myself. I would say that a handful of them were in the “lofty” category so I am feeling pretty good about that number – much better than if I had mailed it in with safe goals and crossed off 15/15.
My business has evolved greatly in the past year and a half. In June of 2017 I stepped back into running my studio full time after working as the Creative Director for Love Your Melon. I came out of that role with a newfound sense of determination, armed with the knowledge and experience that I gained while living the startup life at LYM. I immediately began to take a much more strategic approach to my work and started to see some dramatic results. This year has been an extension of that strategy coupled with a bit of balance as I slowed down on several occasions to enjoy time with friends and family, away from work and social media.
It’s hard to talk about this year without talking about the loss of our friend Graham. In July my husband’s best friend was killed in a tragic accident and it shook both of us to the core. Our lives changed in an instant and we continue to grieve for our friend Liz and their three beautiful children. Graham was vibrant, fun, and generous – a family man whose priorities were spot on and whose energy and enthusiasm were contagious. To be frank, Graham’s passing completely reoriented my entire life. I have spent the past five months reevaluating who I am and contemplating what values I want to live by both personally and professionally.
I figured I’d do a little bit of a rundown of the year – what worked and what didn’t and a bit of everything else in between.
A Few 2018 Studio Stats
Received 193 inquiries
Worked with 43 different clients
Located in 14 states and 5 Countries (USA, Canada, England, Bali, Australia)
My 2018 Mantras Were
Dream Bigger, Dig Deeper
Take Action, Try Harder
Take 100% Responsibility For Your Life
One major change that happened this year was streamling the systems I use in my business. I eliminated Bonsai and Asana and now use Dubsado (client management), Google Drive (file delivery, computer backup), and Creative Cloud (Creative Suite), to run my studio. (I also use Run by ADP for payroll processing but it is not something that I am using on a daily basis, so I don’t really count that!)
Dubsado is an amazing client management system that definitely has a learning curve but has really streamlined my organization and how I manage my client process. It’s incredibly easy to categorize leads and projects, organize them by their status (ex: pricing sent, initial phone call completed, etc.). We utilize tasks boards and their calendars, and it also processes payments and functions as a (simple) accounting software. Plus, contracts AND it has a scheduler system as well. Honestly, I am probably using about 15% of the capacity of the system, but still feel like it is a gamechanger for the studio.
Hired a Studio Manager
The number one reason that I am able to use Dubsado successfully is because of my studio manager, Kiara, who is a Dubsado pro and is constantly following up with inquiries, sending contracts and invoices, scheduling calls, and keeping the entire system running smoothly. She is so talented and I am endlessly grateful for her! Outside of keeping the studio organized and on-task, she’s also encouraging and patient. It can be really isolating to run your own business, especially when you work from home, so I am grateful for the ability to bounce ideas off of her every day. She adds an incredible amount of value for clients, who feel taken care of and are able to get in touch with her quickly each day should they have questions about any step in our design process.
Turning down work is not easy. In fact, it’s so hard that for years (and years and years) designers will ignore red flags and gut feelings because we haven’t gained enough confidence to say no to a project even when we have a bad feeling right from the start. I booked my first freelance clients 10 years ago and I can honestly say that this is the first year I have felt confident enough to say a firm no to projects that are not a good fit for the studio. It has been simultaneously terrifying and liberating. Being a bit more selective has allowed me to be more creative, inventive, and emotionally engaged in my work.
This is a constant every year – we are human, after all, and mistakes and difficult moments are inevitable. We are in a line of work that involves people critiquing what we do, to our face, every single day. I am much more durable now than I was 10 years ago, but it still isn’t easy to navigate some of the tougher moments in this profession. As I get older these simple truths have gotten me through some dark days:
Be open minded
Make things right
It gets better, time heals all wounds
So, what’s next? 2019 is right around the corner (how did that happen!) and I am feeling over the moon about the coming year. Right now I am working on implementing a variety of different tracking measurements to gather data about my clients, process, profitability, and growth and sustainability for the future. This year we are launching a formal blog structure as well as an email structure for monthly studio emails that will give a bit of a behind the scenes look into the studio and will also have some fun freebies as well. I am also doing some significant strategic work with the help of my husband, whose spends his days directing data systems and performance improvement for several hospitals in the Twin Cities. He is incredibly data-oriented and experienced in strategy deployment and I am excited to have him on board.
My hope for this year is to keep growing and evolving and to do so with an open mind and wide open heart. I am so eager to serve our clients in bigger and better ways in 2019. Cheers to the new year!
One of my favorite steps in the branding process is selecting a color palette for my clients. Color is incredibly powerful — a complete language on its own. Color sets the tone for a brand, so I find it critical to consider the meaning behind what I select for my clients.
This process is what works for me, and while there is certainly room for a bit of interpretation when it comes to meaning, the truth is that we are hardwired as humans to respond to colors in specific ways. Each color creates specific emotional responses that must be considered when crafting a visual identity. Does that mean we can't push the envelope and challenge those meanings? Of course not. My greatest joy comes from creating something both effective and unexpected. But the best way for me to serve my clients is by putting significant thought into the colors that make up their brand identity, and having a concrete reason for selecting each color.
1. DETERMINE THE TONE
I spend time reviewing my client's inspiration, survey, and notes from our initial phone call to determine the type of feeling we are trying to achieve. Southern hospitality? Feminine rebellion? Natural wellness? I write down the initial colors that come to mind. Often I "see" a color palette in my head before I even touch my computer.
2. RESEARCH COMPETITORS
I do a little Nancy Drew work and survey all of my client's competitors (I ask for this list in their client survey). At this time I am taking notes — Does everyone use the same colors? Are there specific and obvious trends in their industry? What is working for the competitors and what isn't? Determine when it makes sense to follow a trend and when it makes sense to push the envelope.
3. SELECT COLORS
I am constantly taking photos of colors that I love in the real world — magazines, advertisements, billboards, bus wraps, packaging, book covers, restaurant menus. I start with these photos when it is time to create a palette, then begin to pull together swatches in Illustrator. I select five colors for my clients. Two dark, two light, one neutral. I typically create 2–3 versions of a color palette, and then combine/eliminate until I have it boiled down to one palette concept that I am confident in. I provide my clients with CMYK, PMS, and HEX color values.
4. COLOR USAGE
Next, I determine which colors will be used for what, and what acceptable color combinations are. I select which colors will be used for background colors, typography colors, which colors can work together (right amount of contrast) and which should stay separate (if there's not enough contrast).
5. DELIVER CONCEPTS
This is the most important part of the process. Along with their logo concepts, I include a description of why each color was selected for their brand palette. I do this for two reasons. 1) I want my clients to understand the thought and intention behind the colors I selected and 2) I want them to be able to speak confidently to others about why their brand looks the way it does.