Be Bold and Be Yoda

“That name’s forgettable.” I’d only met her in the buffet queue 20 minutes earlier. I was at a Shopify Meetup in Zifferblat. Lots of interesting talks and the crowd were my kind of people. This was straight-up honesty from a girl I’d politely flicked my noodles at over lunch. It turned out to be one of the best bits of business advice I would receive. I’d mentioned to her my website on email design, ‘Best Responsive Email.’ It was only when I’d said I was becoming known as ‘The Email Girl,’ that she opened up about her amnesia. “Yeh, I think that’s what you should call your site, The Email Girl, I remembered that straight away.”

I came back from that event with some food for thought. What makes a really good brand name? It’s recognition…connotations…memorability? I needed to reinvent my email site pretty sharpish. Best Responsive Email came out of time when I’d just made some real impact with my client, Bupa. It was 2013 and RWD (responsive web design) had been around for a while. Yet translating it to email was still done with mixed efforts and shortcuts. Even with well-established companies. I saw an opportunity at Bupa to get them on board with responsive design in their emails, and from that point, many exciting opportunities opened up in my career. I launched my email site and won a number of new clients across the country.

At that time, using ‘responsive’ attached to a digital design was understood as nailing a site build from desktop to mobile. Without realising it, I actually put a time stamp on my brand by using ‘responsive’ in the name. Internet terminology and language evolves at a bolted rate of time compared to wider design language. What still currently works about ‘Best Responsive Email,’ is the value of ‘Best’ practice. I want my brand to be known for excellence and overcoming design challenges… where email is concerned, there can be many.

A trip to visit this man really helped clarify my thinking.

Mark does music production with people across the UK. Part of his process is teaching musicians how to get their message out there. Mark’s advice to me was simple but deeply insightful,

“Rachael you’re the guide, your client is the hero. You help them make great emails, and in doing so you’re empowering them to fulfil their mission.”

Simple eh? We all know that’s what the best marketing is. Presenting the answer to the problem or pain point and ultimately enabling someone else to achieve their goal. And it all has to be said simply – at a glance someone needs to know, “Ah so this is what you’ll help me do…” Mark got me switched onto Storybrand and copywriter extraordinaire, Ray Edwards. Storybrand’s mission is to help other people clarify their message. Check out their podcast, I learnt a lot listening to these. There’s also an online course, which I’m in no doubt will be excellent. If you don’t feel you can part with that kind of course fee, this book, How to Write Copy that Sells, covers a great deal for £11.95 / $11.57.

I recommend Ray’s book to many freelancers, other designers and people that I work with. What he offers is invaluable. The book is a goldmine of practical to-dos, that when you go back to your website you can see where your communication falls down and areas to bring in more clarity over assumed knowledge. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It’s changed the way I think and do my business. Mark and I sat down for a coffee. “So please tell me honestly, how do these logos work as ‘The Email Girl?'” We shared process ideas. My first back of a beer mat scribble was a hand presenting an envelope: hands-on, able to deliver, safe hands and obviously email.

Mark looked through my early drafts. “Rach why’s the hand changing, pale here, darker her, a different manicure?” So my thinking was this – The Email Girl is the helping hand to deliver awesome emails. Why can’t the hand be interchangeable? Adding a fun twist, it would be great to make the logo animated.

Mark’s eyebrows raised at ‘fun twist.’ “I think this is confusing, The Email Girl is just you. You are the expert guiding someone who isn’t into fixing, building or designing emails. They need your help, enabling them to get over this hurdle. The hand changing makes me wonder who I’m getting to do this…multiple people? You are The Email Girl, but actually, your position is as the guide. You have more knowledge in this area. You’re not the hero, your client is the hero. The logo should be clear and bold, but you’re the Yoda, the client is Luke.”

It was a moment of real clarity. Be bold with your expertise, be more Yoda with how you want to come alongside my clients to move them on in their mission. We see the hero / guide relationship a lot in movies:

Harry & Dumbledore
Luke & Yoda
Frodo & Gandalf
Neo & Morpheus
Rocky & Mickey

Grandiose comparisons? Stories of epic proportions that take an ordinary life into another world? Of course, the hero’s journey is a well-documented narrative. But it’s a timeless classic and at the heart of what we long for when we search for adventure or some kind of mission. It’s a good part of us, making us hungry for stories to happen.

When I revisited The Email Girl logo, I wanted to get to a place it would be simple, clear and recognisable. I wanted my brand to be open, warm and friendly. My message works to take the pain and heartache away from email design and also be bright, bold and essentially a brand that pursues innovation. When you think about brands that feel approachable, their common trait positions them as a guide. Subtly simple but when you have this in mind you can spot it a mile off.

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