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How Strategy Aids Design

A unique agency is born

In 2013, GreyBox Creative was fortunate enough to be asked to write a proposal to help a Hawaiian luxury real estate agency with its brand and an underperforming website. Speaking with the prospective client, we learned that the website was fairly new but did not serve the expectations of their very high-end clients. The website did not speak to this audience and was not visually in tune with their needs. There was also a disconnect with the company logo and supporting identity.

strategy aids design

Just a few months before this request, I had been introduced to James Heaton from Tronvig Group and his strategic mind left an impression on me. I had the idea of pulling James and Tronvig in to make the proposal more robust and to increase the project’s overall success. While this did increase the cost of our proposal, we went ahead and pushed for a full identity redesign, including discovery workshops and customer persona research to be led by Tronvig at the outset and a complete brand overhaul to follow. Our hope was that this would allow strategy to aid and support our design work.

Uncompromising honesty won the bid and James started with the Brand Strategy Workshop. Over two decades of branding companies GreyBox Creative has done its share of discovery work, but this was different. From the outset, it was immediately clear that this was at another level altogether. Unique and well-practiced methods combined with powerful tools exposed me to a strategic process that was both analytical and intuitive. It was something I had not experienced before. The detail and clarity that came out of the workshop was a game changer for us.

Our creative work was given a clear framework and we knew exactly what we were to execute. This was all encapsulated in an outtake document of no more than a few pages. This same document was given to the client so that they could use it to guide and manage other vendors and as a tool to evaluate all their business activities and employees.

strategy aids design


strategy aids design As we moved from discovery into research, Tronvig Group created a target customer persona who was so clearly defined that we gave him a name and used that name whenever referring to the target customer. With this strategic and operational clarity for the business and the brand, we had the guidance we needed to design a new corporate identity and write, design, and develop an entirely new website. The website now speaks directly to Luxury Big Island’s ideal client. It attracts that client while simultaneously repelling those prospects who do not fit the ideal customer profile. This is very helpful for a small but growing agency that does not want to be slowed down by unqualified inquiries.

Strategy aids design

The new identity and website effectively support the firm’s current success. Harold Clarke, the owner of Luxury Big Island, now has much more than a pretty website; he has a branded marketing tool that facilitates his highly personal sales process, ensures that the right kind of prospects are walking through the door, and insulates him from those who might slow him down. The new brand has served to help grow the business, which has significantly expanded in the years since its launch. Luxury Big Island continues to attract the most exclusive listings on the island.

strategy aids design

Undergirding this success is a solid strategic foundation for the Luxury Big Island brand. The logo, the website, the messaging, all of the graphics, images, and data provision are tightly focused on a well-defined persona—the very same target persona that was established in Tronvig’s initial brand strategy work. He is a particular kind of wealthy and powerful executive whose main characteristics are predictable, but it is his finer personality characteristics that have proven most helpful and have served as a constant guide for our work. We called the persona Mr. Meyer. He sits in on key decisions relating to the brand. This would all fall down, of course, if the Luxury Big Island brand was not able to deliver on the promise it makes, if it were not able to deeply satisfy Mr. Meyer once he walks in, but Luxury Big Island does deliver.

Target Persona: Mr. Meyer

Having Mr. Meyer has proven effective. In fact, a few months after the new Luxury Big Island brand was in full operation, a real Mr. Meyer showed up to make a rather significant purchase from Harold. It turned out to be the largest real estate transaction on the Big Island in years, and Harold was indeed the right man for the job. In this process, the Luxury Big Island brand was there quietly reaffirming its essential value.

strategy aids design

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