Building the brand guidelines’ creator that’s professional enough for designers to use is challenging. If you visit any of our daily meetings with my team, there’s always a discussion on how to implement this or that, or how to make the platform more usable and efficient.
When we rolled out Gingersauce the brand book builder, I couldn’t even imagine how much experience I will gain over the course of just a few weeks. Yes, these days were challenging and yet extremely exciting: I got to hear feedback from professionals from over the world and got to reassure myself once again that we appeared on the market just in time.
I thought, why not share the insights on the feedback we received from the community? Why not paint you a path we’re already walked?
I am planning on publishing 2 articles where I will guide you all the way through the vision of the project before the launch, and up to the point of us gaining 2,500 users of the platform in 2 months.
If interested, welcome to part 1 of the record!
Believe me, generally speaking, creating brand books is not a designer’s favorite job. It’s tiresome and takes a lot of time. It drains much energy to go back and forth with the client for weeks on end.
I won’t be lying if I said that the decision to create Gingersauce came to me partly because of this reason: to relieve this pain, to allow designers to pass on the task to the automated tool.
Before we started working on the project, I spoke to at least 30 other designers, my colleagues, and the ones I worked with on a short-term basis. I asked their opinion on (future) Gingersauce. Would they use it? How do they see such a tool? What functionality will be ‘a must’?
Based on their responses I figured — the community lacked a tool for both better presentation of visuals and brand book creation. So, that’s what I went with.
Of course, there was a bit more to creating Gingersauce. The application required a lot of thought and dedication. There were things that we had to implement despite what other designers said.
I know how other designers treat online tools — they are thought to be not professional enough, they usually do not provide enough functionality and customization to be useful. This has formed a strong stereotype that prevents professionals to be open-minded towards such platforms.
Understanding that, I was worried that with Gingersauce we won’t be able to fight through that superstition. I made myself a goal to change the way designers perceive web-based tools, proving that some platforms are asking to be utilized by professionals.
In a time of online tools replacing the designer, I wanted to create a tool that empowers the designer and reinstates their value back in a world where clients can get logos for 5$, with little to no meaning behind it.
But let’s rewind to the very beginning, shall we?
We started working on the project approximately a year before the launch. Created the beta version of the platform, wrote content, rolled out the first version of the website. Wonder what it looked like? Not as pretty as the current one :)
I still have that yellow bottle you see in the photo :) Some things are left unchanged, I guess. But not Gingersauce’s website.
Initially, we planned on a different promotion model than only advertising on social media. We wanted to meet designers face-to-face, directly in marketing and design hubs in London, Berlin, and Tel Aviv. Then Covid came in, and, well, you know the drill.
The first version & the first feedback
The first Beta version of Gingersauce had the necessary functionality to start, a carcass if you will.
Later on, we began to add more brand book templates, google fonts; more steps; design, and development improvements. What we have now is a lot more suitable for professional designers, and this is the direction we’re moving into.
However, at first, every product has bugs. Here, I have to express my gratitude to the early users who reported the issues they were encountering. With their help, we managed to quickly improve the usability of the brand book wizard and get rid of the major system vulnerabilities. Thank you a lot!
P.S. Meet Olha — she’s a very dedicated member of the Gingersauce team. Thanks to her we got all the feedback I am about to show you, which helped us so much in improving the application.
The feedback I was very happy to see is people saying that they were looking for a tool like this. That we came in at the right time, and with the right functionality. That they were done using brand book templates and were looking for an online solution.
Do I have to tell you how happy I was to read this? Yes, we still had a lot of room for improvement but people were seeing the whole point of Gingersauce.
My goal was and still is to provide a solution, help save time and offer a helping hand. When I started working on the app, I was crazy worried that the issue was only in my head and it was only a few people struggling with creating brand books.
But, what the first feedbacks were saying only proved that design experience is universal, we’re all facing the same issues, experiencing the same pains. And the tool I am creating helps!
I cannot even express how encouraging those comments were, motivating me to continue working on Gingersauce with renewed vigor.
Do you know the Seth Godin principle? It was important for us — and still is — to stay in touch with people we have already communicated with. We understood that if we have a group of people, even a very small one, which is interested in being active within the project, it will help us to create a community later on (which was the plan from the very beginning).
That is exactly why we always ask for feedback and stay in touch with everyone that was involved. Would you like to also become a part of the community, and provide your feedback? Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As I mentioned, we were fixing bugs and adding new functionality. The brand book creator that you can see now, is very different from the one we initially released. We are now offering a much more professional service, suitable for brand designers to use while working on project branding. With more customization available, the opportunities for using our brand guidelines creator went up.
Over the course of these few weeks, we launched an Instagram page and a blog dedicated to design and branding. I realize that branding is a relevant topic today, and want to share the knowledge and experience I acquired working in design for more than 20 years. Because designers need to stick together 👊🏻
At this point in time, Gingersauce has more than 2500 users of the platform, and approximately 3400 people in total — if to count the community on social media.
New people are coming in every day, creating awesome brand books, and becoming more and more professional in their presentation of visuals. Both I and the whole Gingersauce team are extremely excited about what’s waiting for us next. How many more cool people we will get to meet during our journey? We can’t wait!
The lesson learned
Rolling off the platform wasn’t easy. I and the team, together, we learned a lot during the last few months. You can’t be prepared for everything, can you?
Let me share with you some of the mistakes we made and the realizations that came to us. Hopefully, it will help you to start off a lot easier.
Avoid chaotic PPC targeting. In the beginning, we targeted PPC campaigns in London, Berlin, and Tel Aviv. This proved to be inefficient and expensive, explaining why in the next point.
Consider languages. Designers like working in their own language. So we changed the targeting audience to English speaking Europe, mainly London. Then we expanded to the USA and this proved to be much better for us. In a digital world, we didn’t have to confine ourselves to specific geographical locations so America opened up our horizons and now we have also users from the far east, Africa, and soon Japan.
Provide an understandable message. We understood that our messaging on the website wasn’t coherent and understandable — we built it again from scratch with a new design, simple, no bullsh*t, straight forward messaging of the main benefits for the designer. There’s no point beating around the bush, if people do not understand what is the benefit for them, they don’t bother.
Establish trust and proficiency. Soon enough we learned that just saying what we can do for the designer is not enough — through the PPC campaign I mean. We realized what a big difference it makes when you create your own professional content so people will understand that you know what you are doing — this translates to designers trusting the project and listening to it.
Share your experience. Unique content is everything. You need to start creating interesting and useful content. Share your personal experience and knowledge no one will find on the internet, they will have to live through it. So, let them do it.
Do better in SEO. Better SEO helps to spread the word faster and further on the web. Professional content = great, professional content + SEO = SCORE. That’s the formula.
Create a community and listen to it. We understood the importance of creating our own community and establishing a connection with our users on social platforms. This allows open communication. It lets us understand our users, and their needs so that we can continue to fine-tune our product to reach its fullest potential.
Aim for a bigger goal. The main issue I see a lot is designers not being professional enough by presenting their visual. We are still sending an attached file and call it quits. I have a dream to offer designers a means of doing a professional presentation without having to waste hours preparing it. This is my main motivator for working on a project. I let people know about it. If you have such a mission with your brand too, make sure you talk about it too. What pain do you aim to fix with your work? People wanna know.
Currently, we’re working on a huge development update that will come out in a few days (hopefully). Before starting to work on it we conducted a survey among our users, to see what they have to say. In a series of face-to-face calls, we discussed:
- What people thought of Gingersauce
- What functionality they would like us to add to the brand book builder
- What they didn’t like about the app
- Is the app useful for them?
And much more! They sure did have a lot of feedback to share.
The survey was one of the best experiences and steps we took working on Gingersauce, an app for brand books online building. But I will leave what I heard from those 15 people I interviewed for part 2 of the report!
Make sure you stick around for the next article and thank you for being with us.