Website Launch: Cour Des Lys

I’m a champagne producer from Veneuil, France, the email reads. I’m starting out with my own champagne, and I would like you to help me tell my story.

It’s the email of the month. The year possibly. Who DOESN’T want to help craft the story of a champagne producer and his wine?

It gets better: I’m doing things differently, he says. I don’t force and tamper. I give the wine time to tell its story. The story of its land. Of limestone and chalk. Of rolling hills plunging into the river Marne. Of long, mild summer days, crisp winters and misty fall mornings, of growers who respect the land and have cared for it for generations.

Champagne is my calling, he says. The thing that keeps me up at night.

And me, I’m inspired by his passion. His unwavering dedication, drive and commitment. His courage and creativity.

A year later. We met in Paris and in San Francisco. We crafted his story and created his brand and built his website. We kicked off Social Media. We’re plotting, planning and conspiring for the future. Over our shared love for it all, we’ve become friends. And of all of the things, that is of course my favorite one.

Take a look at the live site here : http://www.CourDesLys.com

Elevator Pitch Video: Whitney Greer

We just went live with my client Whitney Greer’s new website. She’s a media- and presentation coach, meaning she trains her clients to get in front of an audience, own that stage and kill that presentation.

I knew she was good, but it wasn’t until we filmed this video for her landing page, that I understood how good she is. She showed up ready. She took that stage and delivered her pitch with presence and confidence and ease. Light-hearted and calm. Effortless and unafraid to just nail it. To me, deadly afraid of, and frozen solid in, any kind of spotlight, it was an awe-inspiring experience.

Watch:

Website Launch: Rebel Mind

The brief:

Re-position, re-focus and re-brand my client Whitney Greer’s communications agency, RebelMind, and bring it all to life with a new website.

The work:

We start from scratch. We evaluate Whitney’s career successes and her strengths, and discuss what parts of her work have made her feel creative, alive and accomplished. We discuss the market: Her past- and potential future clients, services needed and demanded by them, messages that will speak to them, and ways to reach them. With this work complete, we know what she wants to offer; we have a market-oriented, success-, talent- and passion-driven service portfolio. As a result of this work, we can see so clearly that the slogan comes easy: Your mic-drop moment. The website structure comes easy as well. We define what pages we need, and the message, purpose, content and navigation label for each. Next the fun part. We spend a day at my computer finding textures, pictures and colors and defining design parameters, and tie it all into a cohesive visual identity that describes Whitney as a coach.

Take a look at the live site here: http://GetRebelMind.com I think it turned out as brave and bad-ass as she is.

Website Launch: Three Rivers Ayurveda

Aparna Dandekaar is a board-certified family physician and a certified Ayurveda wellness practitioner. Integrating the strengths of both healing modalities is what sets her apart.

After our initial meeting, we come to this set of guidelines for the new Three Rivers Ayurveda website: A clean, modern design, seamlessly integrating elements of traditional India. A blend of West and East, created for a health- and lifestyle-conscious, inquisitive, educated, affluent Bay Area audience. Inspiring. Positive. Bright. A healing atmosphere. Playful, subtle education. Minimal, laser-focused writing. Easy, guided content presentation and -navigation. Clear structure. Downloadable patient forms, FAQs, and a blog for Aparna to run all on her own after launch.

Take a look at the site? http://ThreeRiversAyurveda.com

Website Launch: CircumNavigators

The brief:

Re-create —in a virtual, two-dimensional space— the “CircumNavigators” art installation exhibited at the Flora Lamson Hewlett Library in Berkeley, California. Use a compass to present the art, inspire exploration, invite the visitor on a journey, re-create the atmosphere of the exhibition and the vision of the two artists.

The work:

A compass. An intro animation. Interactive spinning. Photography edits. Landing page done. Then, my favorite part of this project: Three magical days of co-creating. Christel, Danae, Jill and I. We sit in front of my computer and tell the story of each piece. A feeling, a word, a motion, an intuition, a sound, a color, a memory. White space to let the art speak. Typography. Simplicity. Inspiration. When our journey is complete, we launch the site.

http://TheCircumNavigators.com.com

Food Photography – Behind The Scenes

Frank comes home from a long week of corporating and I ask him can you help me with a video shoot on the weekend and he just drives me around town all Saturday and rents me a trailer and loads it for me and the question if I deserve all of it doesn’t even cross his mind while it’s the prominent and permanent one on mine.

And on Sunday I hand him a camera and I ask: Can you film like this. Handheld and lots of rack-focusing and shallow depth of field. And he says I don’t know but I can try. And on Monday, I check his footage and I laugh. Cause it’s all handheld and lots of rack-focusing and shallow depth of field. And then it’s so much more than that and I just feel helplessly overwhelmed with awe and gratitude.

And my friend Laura. I text her, can you be my model. It’s a video shoot and it’s kind of totally last minute. And she replies immediately. When should I be where and don’t you worry and I’ll get a hand treatment. And then this: Oh, I am so excited. And she shows up and just gets to work and carries me.

What is it with this beautiful world? Seriously: How is it this kind and beautiful and this full of love?

Here is a little trailer:

At Home in the World

Of rainy days and cold nights and loved people and a journey home. Of sparkly lights and gratitude and longing. Of friendship, more than anything. Of feeling lost and of suddenly and unexpectedly and all-encompassingly, feeling at home in the world.

What is Storytelling?

What-Is-Storytelling
Really, what does it mean? Telling a story with a picture, a video, a paragraph of text, a website?

The difference is feelings. Touching hearts. The recognition of humanness: I am part of this and this is part of me. I get it! Or: They get me! Energy. Imagination. Feeling connected and less alone. Braver, maybe. Part of something bigger.

Authenticity, imperfection. Genuine, unstaged and unscripted. Moments. Messy and real and human and honest. Soul. That’s the difference. Created from a place of truth and courage. And people can’t help but recognize it and be drawn to it.

There are two donut shops on my way to work. Both have a signpost. One reads: Berkeley’s best donuts. The other one: Donuts: The juiciest sin of your day.

Storytelling.

It’s a pair of worn, aged, muddy work boots next to a pair of tiny pink ballerina flats standing by the entrance door. It’s a tray of cookies fresh from the oven, one missing, and a little hand sneaking in… The genuine emotion of a moment versus the empty smile in a posed portrait.

The Patagonia mission statement: “Committed to Uncommon Culture. We prefer the human scale to the corporate, vagabonding to tourism, the quirky and lively to the toned-down and flattened out.”

Storytelling.

(Comparison. The Exxon Mobile mission statement reads: “Continuously achieve superior financial and operating results while adhering to the highest standards of busin…”) Did you fall asleep? Yeah. Me too.

The opposite of storytelling: Unsurprising, uninspired, unimaginative. Empty. Expected. Playing it safe. Business jargon. Perfection, sterility, façade, machine-made, conformism.

It’s why I’m so certain that we need stories: They help us remember that we are human. That we’re in this together. And that we’re so much more alike than we are different.

Made with Love

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time making and taking pictures of food. I started because I needed to build my portfolio and then I got crazy passionate (=obsessed) about practicing and getting better.

The pictures below are my favorite ones from these past few months. A lot of the dishes are Vegan, all of them are dairy-free and gluten-free and made without refined sugar. Kind food. Made with love. Made to help us feel loved and made to help us heal. If you’re curious about the recipes, I posted a l lot of them on my Instagram feed. A few of them have also been published on The FeedFeed. Or just ask me and I will happily and proudly let you know how something was made.

And so, as I wrap up this chapter, I wish you this: I wish you food made with love and I wish you time to savor it. Most importantly, I wish you absolute certainty in knowing that you are worthy of both.

Website Launch: Barr Necessities

It’s been a labor of love: A storytelling website built for my client-turned-friend Natalia Barr and her (gluten-free, all-organic, low-glycemic, whole-foods) patisserie- and catering company “Barr Necessities.”

We started from scratch: Customer surveys, research, business soul-searching. The result: A (re)defined brand identity. Within this framework, the rest was easy. And so much fun: Lots of baking and almost as much eating, a two-day photo shoot with champagne and music, texts and emails full of ideas and love and inspiration, creative meetings fueled by coffee and laughter, a new logo, design iterations, writing, coding, launching.

And here is the new site. We went for a simple, clean and focused structure. A rustic and natural feel; hand-made, craftsmanship. Chic. A little playful and a touch of vintage. The site is optimized for speed, for all screen sizes and browsers and for Search Engines. Most importantly though, it’s optimized for people. The guiding light throughout was to create a site people could love. Delight and inspiration and smiles.

Go check it out. We’re both so proud of it:  http://www.Barr-Necessities.com

Barr Necessities Website

Photography – A Checklist

Photography-Checklist

Do you get stuck when you take pictures, because the photo doesn’t look as amazing as you would like it to? I do. All the time. To figure out what I need to change, I go through a checklist in my head. I thought I’d share that list with you, hoping it gives you a system for analyzing your pictures and figuring out what aspects need more work.

Object/Subject/Scene:
Photography starts with seeing. When we can see the beauty of an object, a scene or a person, we’re half-way there. Conversely, if we try to take a picture of something that we can’t see the beauty of, taking an amazing picture is somewhere between difficult and impossible. So: We have to see beauty first.

Composition:
Shapes, arrangement, angles, scale, proportions, distribution, crop. Camera position, camera angle, focal length, focal point, depth of field, motion blur. Textures. Background to object/subject ratio. Background to object/subject contrast.

Color:
Tonal range, gradient, complementary colors, color ratio, color pattern, interrupting color, dominant color, color blocks, color chaos, black and white.

Light:
Number of light sources, daylight or studio light, number and position of reflectors/flashes, light temperature, light intensity, light direction, contrast, highlight intensity, shadow intensity, exposure.

Story:
Soul, human-ness, authenticity, imperfection, history, association/reference, a wink, a hidden smile, inspiration, emotion.

Post Production:
Adjusting exposure, contrast, saturation and individual colors to communicate a specific mood.

I could work on this list for weeks and it would still get more exhaustive and cohesive, but I think it’s a good start. I would absolutely LOVE to hear what you would add, challenge or change. Please let me know if something needs more explanation, too.

Wishing you good light, always.

Studio 7C – Welcome Video

Kintsukuroi


Kintsukuroi
It’s not the new and shiny that tells stories. It’s not the perfect, the cookie-cutter, the predictable. It’s not the straight road. Not the easy, not the painless.

You find stories in the cracks. In the light that gets in. In the gold that fills them. Mends them. They talk about sweat and tears, those cracks. About gritted teeth, hard work and courage. About the refusal to give up. They talk about detours and getting lost.

They talk about trust and faith and grace. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Gratitude. About learning and growing, and about the strength that is vulnerability.

Hope, mostly. Beauty, of course. And love. It always comes back to love. Showing the cracks takes courage. But here’s the thing: It’s the only story worth telling.

Family Portrait: Ranchers and Farmers

When my friend Susanne asked me to take pictures of her beautiful family, I spontaneously and immediately loved the idea. I haven’t done much people photography in the busy-ness of the last few years and I had started to really miss it.

We all fell in love with the idea of a ranch setting: California land, rolling hills, golden grass, a winding trail, weathered wooden fences and a winter sunset.

Susanne and her husband Tom picked the most adorable outfits and prepared their kids, Liam and Annika, by telling them they were going to be Ranchers and Farmers for the day.

The ice broke because cattle kept walking into our picture, because we laughed about avoiding the piles of cow poop, because the little ones watched the horizon through spy glasses and because Liam got to pull his sister up and down the trail in a wooden wagon. When it all started to feel like a big outdoor family adventure, we got these pictures:

Architectural Renderings – Comparing Finishes

Our client, Suffolk Construction, is building an apartment complex in San Francisco’s Mission Bay. Future buyers of the apartment units can choose between three different styles of finishes. Suffolk asked us to visualize these three styles with architectural renderings. Below are two views of a sample unit, each showing the three different finishes. We added furniture to emphasize the differences, add personality and spark imagination in potential buyers:

Architectural Rendering Comparing Finishes

Architectural Rendering

Farewell

I was named after her first-born daughter, who passed away not even a year old. She never called me by that name, though. ‘Kindchen’ is what she called me. A loving expression for ‘little child’ in the German of her generation.

She wasn’t like the grandmas in story books. She wasn’t the soft, motherly, cookie-baking type. This morning, lying awake in the dark hours before dawn, I was suddenly able to name the gift she gave me instead: She was an example of strength. Of courage, resilience and independence, of self-respect, pride and tenacity.

She was whip-smart. A savvy businesswoman. A matriarch. Loud, heated conversations about politics over whiskey and cigars were part of every holiday dinner at her house around the heavy, antique oak table in her majestic living room. It sounded like they were fighting, but even as a kid I could sense how much she was loving these debates with her three sons.

I believe to know that she loved life. Her laugh came straight from her heart. She skied, a woman born in 1912. She loved dogs. She loved the mountains, too. We always agreed that going up is much easier than going down. During air raids in World War II, she did not go into the shelter like they were instructed to. She wanted to die outside, not buried in a basement.

When I was a little girl, I was terrified of thunderstorms. One summer night, I must have been about five years old, the sky went dark while we were having dinner around the barbecue in my family’s backyard. Everything was rushed inside the house as the rain started pouring and thunder and lightning began raging. I was hiding in the darkest corner of the checkroom when my grandma’s calm voice reached my terrified mind. She asked if I could be very brave for just one minute and I was curious enough to follow her outside. She sat me down on the porch in a chair next to her. Sheltered by the eaves, but just inches away from the pouring rain. A shaking little girl, covering her eyes in fear. And then she presented the lightshow. She searched and pointed. She held her breath. She marveled at the beauty, the color, the shape of each lightning strike. The more strikes, the louder the thunder, the greater her excitement. I forgot to be scared. There was simply no room for fear. I wanted to sit there with her forever.

The intervals became longer, then the storm was gone. She gave me at least two gifts that night: She gave me storms. And she taught me an invaluable lesson about fear…

She died yesterday, 101 years old. Thousands of miles away, I did not get to say goodbye. I didn’t get a chance to thank her, either. I would have loved to tell her that she’ll always be with me. Every storm I weather, every mountain I climb. She’ll be there.

While I am starting to understand that she is gone, I hope she has made it safely to her next destination. I hope she has met up with the ones who went before her: Her husband and her beloved sister. Her daughter, her dog Ingo and all the others who shared her journey here. I hope they’re all sitting around a big table, drinking Underberg and playing a deck of Rommé. I hope they’re laughing and debating. Talking about the wild ride they had. And I hope that when it’s my time to go, they make a little room at that table. I just want to sit with them. Just sit, listen to their stories and hear her say my name. Kindchen.

Marketing Goals

Marketing-Goals

If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.
~Lawrence J. Peter

When you start building your Marketing Strategy, please feel free to use the example goals below to determine your organization’s goals. I’m hoping this work will help you spend your marketing resources (time and money) wisely and more efficiently:

 
 

    1. BUSINESS GOALS:
      1. Increasing revenue
      2. Increasing profit
      3. Increasing profitability (ratio of profit to revenue)
      4. Increasing Return on Investment (ROI)
      5. Growth
      6. Triple Bottom Line (People, Planet, Profit)
        1. Increasing contribution to society
        2. Investing in sustainable business practices
        3. Improving employee benefits, happiness, comfort, salaries…
      7. Increasing market share
      8. Developing new markets
      9. Optimizing service portfolio structure
        (creating opportunities to offer specific products/services)
      10. Optimizing pricing structure
        (creating opportunities to charge a certain price)
      11. Optimizing distribution structure
        (creating opportunities to use or expand specific distribution channels)

 

    1. PRIMARY MARKETING GOALS:
      1. Increasing brand awareness
      2. Increasing brand recognition
      3. Conveying benefits
      4. Cultivating preference
      5. Lead generation
      6. Image change
      7. Increasing conversion rate
      8. Increasing customer value
      9. Customer retention
      10. Deepening brand loyalty
      11. Differentiation
      12. Collecting customer feedback
      13. Increasing intensity or frequency of use

 

  1. SECONDARY MARKETING GOALS:
    1. Getting permission for continuous contact
      (Facebook, Twitter, email newsletter)
    2. Upgrading permission
      (Twitter follower to email newsletter subscriber)
    3. Building brand ambassadors
    4. Collecting public endorsements
    5. Increasing website traffic
    6. Extending website visit time
    7. Reducing website bounce rate
    8. Increasing Search Engine Ranking
    9. Improving Organic Search Engine results
    10. Increasing number of blog subscribers
      (total or number of target group subscribers)
    11. Increasing number of Facebook fans, Twitter followers, Google+ connections…
    12. Receiving more comments on a company blog
      (or more high quality comments or more comments from target audience members)
    13. Receiving more incoming links
      (or more incoming links from high quality sources)
    14. Getting people to interact with content more
      (sharing, commenting, tweeting, pinning, liking…)