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We set out to build a website. We ended up with a visual story rooted in the needs of our customer that connects them with the unstoppable pole experts at IKE.
Creative pursuits can be fickle beasts. You can pour everything you have into months of effort, only to have a finished product that doesn’t resonate. It is what can make it so hard to show a piece of work to the world. This website has been a creative exercise that has gone on longer than any I have ever undertaken. By all rights, I should have some trepidation about showing it off. You never really know how people respond to something until you are watching it happen. Yet, no such feeling has arisen. I think I understand why.
This site is not just an exercise in creativity, it is a concerted effort to connect people with people. We spent months preparing, getting to know our audience before doing a shred of design. I leveraged years of experience working with IKE Customers every day to write expansive persona’s that capture the essence of the various types of people we work with. We made those personas the centerpiece for everything we have done since.
In the marketing world, you hear the idea of persona’s tossed around like your Aunt’s bad fruitcake at Christmas. All the time, people write personas that ultimately end up failing. Personas could fail for various reasons. What I have often seen is that they get the job done on a surface level, but since there is not more profound understanding of what the customer needs, they quickly become ineffective and forgotten. For it to last, a persona needs to be a deep dive where you can show off just how well you understand your customers.
As we got to know our customers on a whole new level and edged toward design, I had just finished a book called This is Marketing by Seth Godin. One lesson in brand marketing he hammers home is that “you definitely, certainly, and surely don’t have enough time and money to build a brand for everyone. You can’t. Don’t try. Be specific. Be very specific.” Lucky for us, IKE exists in a specific niche of an often overlooked industry. We didn’t have to build a brand for everyone. We didn’t even have to build a brand for an entire industry, We just had to get to know everything we could about the people that make the world of poles turn, and build a website for them.
Persona’s in hand, we dove head first into what would be a 6-month endeavor to create a website that meant something meaningful to our personas. We iterated and designed over and over again until we realized one thing. We are here to make connections. IKE is a collective of pole experts that provide solutions to people with pole problems. It could be that simple. We just had to give people a chance to connect problem and solution on a personal level. So, we fell back to our personas, and we matched them up with the people and teams at IKE that could best solve their potential problems.
In doing that, we realized IKE’s people were our strongest asset. They’re quirky, fun, and make IKE what it is. More than anything though, they are experts at what they do. The best way to connect customers with our high powered team was to build a brand and website that tells a story that highlights our people. It would never work for us to be another faceless company. We want our customers to know how Andrew will be supporting them in the field, how Matthew streamlines their processes, and how our CEO Glenn has fostered a culture that encourages people to connect with people. From there, our design blossomed and edged towards what you see today.
So explore the site, we hope you like it. But more than that, we hope it helps you solve your problem. Get to know the outstanding people at IKE who will help you along the way. They are the reason we find success. I will end with another Seth Godin quote, one that whether I knew it or not has become the ethos of this website and the IKE brand as a whole. “You’re not running around grabbing every conceivable lock to try out your key. Instead, you’re finding people (the lock), and since you are curious about their dreams and desires, you will create a key just for them, one they’ll happily trade attention for.”