IT with a Smile
Is there a friendly side to information technology?
PROBLEM: Diversify the Smartbridge brand voice. A brand revamp was underway for the enterprise services firm, including a website/logo redesign. Stilted copy & lack of call to actions meant the page was practically a dead end in the user's journey.
SOLUTION: Friendlier, personified copy. A retelling of Smartbridge's history in an engaging, relaxed voice. We wanted users to feel as if they were chatting with us over a cup of coffee.
DELIVERABLE(S): Page copy, page redesign
ROLE: Project Lead, Copywriter
SKILLS: Copywriting, Research, Web Design, User Journey, Market Research
TOOLS: Microsoft Word, Wordpress
FINAL PRODUCT: Here
PROCESS: Smartbridge is a full-service enterprise business consulting firm providing technology, strategy, and implementation services to businesses around the globe. For about five years, this was the most useful piece of information available on its "About Us" page. (You can view an older version of the page here.) Last year, the firm set its sights on an intense brand revamp that ultimately refreshed its logo, official tagline, website design, and more. I was tasked with creating a new version of the company overview page that could speak to its history and expertise. Additionally, the page's lack of call to actions made it difficult for a curious reader to continue learning; it did not readily link to useful pages (the management team, community engagement, et cetera.) When I audited the page, I realized that it accounted for nearly 4% of smartbridge.com's overall bounce rate: visitors scanned and exited the page within seconds.
Initially, that did not bother me; I know that all web copy should be scannable. However, our copy needed to relate nearly fifteen years of Smartbridge history without bogging the reader down with the details. No matter the execution, company overviews are essentially summaries meant to relay comprehensive histories in a manageable manner. Our main goal was to hit the "sweet spot" where our copy would not overwhelm the reader nor suffer from brevity. Our other intention was to redefine the voice of "smartbridge.com:" we didn't know what we sound like outside of the realm of digital strategy and use cases. How would that tone, that voice best align with the brand of a information technology firm? By design, IT branding is neutral and structured; companies care about professionalism. Smartbridge's new copy would have to relate its experience with a stated confidence; this was, after all, a reintroduction, not a debut.
My first step was learning as much as I could about Smartbridge's journey. I audited the company's former social media content, taking note of its tone, voice and structure. Were we friendly? Reserved? Did we post photos, use filters? Were we consistent? Did we interact with our audience; did they interact with us? I read the company overviews of our competitors, noting any similarities and differences in comparison to us and each other. After presenting my research to my leadership, I requested a meeting with Smartbridge's CEO to learn about its journey, then wrote a series of questions about the company's history.
I conducted a neat, one-hour interview, transcribed the results, and laid out a first draft. I wanted copy that was friendly and conversation, as if the reader and our website were having a cup of coffee. This draft was mostly structural to account for timelines and critical information (career page CTAs, SaaS CTAs, et cetera.)
The second draft focused on tightening the voice. Here, I edited with the branding guide to get a better feel for how we employed sentence structure, euphemisms, and other elements of voice. This draft was sent back to the Smartbridge CEO for approval, then returned for a third round of edits to sort of "meld" the two versions into a happy medium everyone seemed comfortable with. This ultimately resulted in the final product.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This project was offered a valuable lesson about collaborating with indirect project stakeholders. Creatives understand that, in the end, their work will have to answer to someone: a department head, C-level executive, or a manager may have the final say on content. This is why consistent communication is key: your stakeholder should always have a clear idea of your goals and expectations for your project.
After the second editing round, it became clear that I had not communicated my intentions well to certain stakeholders. In result, I was expected to bridge the gap between my edits and theirs.
I think this project would benefit from a third or even fourth round of edits - particularly to address some of the stilted language in the second and fourth paragraphs.