Brand Expansion Strategy

The Studio

The Studio is a merchtech platform that connects consumers and businesses with hundreds of manufacturers overseas. Their business model is helping customers customize clothing and accessories with a fast turnaround time and no minimum orders. They coined the term “merch-on-demand.”

Initially, their primary audience was small businesses producing limited amounts of customizations such as corporate swags and merchandise. Then they found a better business opportunity in providing high-end fashion retailers with trial or limited edition ready-to-wear pieces.

The Problem

Because The Studio’s original demographics were less formal, the website’s look and feel were edgy and casual. The color palette was bright and bold. They featured small projects such as enamel pins, customized patches, and embordered hats. These visuals don’t communicate that the company can produce high-quality products enterprise-level retailers are seeking.

The Goals

This project aimed to update the current homepage to attract high-end companies without losing existing customers. The UX goal was to curate an experience for the audience to feel professionalism, reliability, and scalability.

The Design Process

Research

In normal circumstances, I would interview customers to establish insight and empathy. Because of the rushed timeline, I interviewed The Studio team to gain customer knowledge. I also researched the merchandising and fashion retail industry to understand specifications, demand, and needs. Based on what I’ve learned, I built personas for this project. They were reviewed and verified by the marketing team at The Studio.

Personas and Pain Points

1) Large Retailer Persona

Anita Miller is a 34-year-old in-house sportswear designer for Macy’s. For spring next year, the retailer would like to debut their private label called FeelForward, a contemporary women’s sportswear line in Boca Raton, Florida, to test out the market. With the collection already defined and sketches completed, she is ready for sourcing and prototyping. Because of the small initial quantity budgeted for this experiment, she is looking for flexible manufacturers with minimum order quantities. If proven successful, a larger reorder will follow. She is particular about her products and expects clear communications with her suppliers.

Pain Points

Anita has difficulty finding a manufacturer that can handle smaller order quantities and scale if the sports line is successful. She is worried about staying on budget and the project’s turnaround time for the Spring season.

2) Mid-size Business Persona

Gregory Green is a 42-year-old entrepreneur who owns a small coffee shop chain in Sacramento called the Greenery Coffee Roasters. Last year, he opened a third cafe, and business is booming. He established a growing customer base, and they are purchasing branded t-shirts from the coffee shops. He wants to elevate his brand recognition by expanding into tumblers, mugs, hoodies, baseball caps, pins, and patches.

Pain Points

Previously, Gregory was working with several online vendors to order specific branded merchandise. Because of the scattered suppliers, he often forgets to reorder or hesitates to keep up with the process. It would be much easier if he can order everything from one source. Gregory is also disappointed with the quality of the products he received. The logo colors are incorrect, and the printing is off-centered. It’ll take many phone calls to fix the orders.

User Flow and Ideation

User flow


The majority of The Studio’s customer traffic comes from search.

The Look and Feel Inspiration

The vision of the new website UX is to bring customers of all sizes to a production studio where their projects are ready for production. Adding details of textures and material makes the page feel almost touchable as if customers can pick up a fabric swatch and feel the quality.

A New Color Palette

The original brand color palette was bright and playful. It did not communicate to Enterprise level customers that the company is serious and scalable. Here is my proposal for a new color palette: Dark blue to elude a sense of calm, trust, and responsibility. Customers can rely on The Studio to get their merchandise produced. The shades of gray communicate professionalism and discretion. The studio is in the backdrop helping customers bring their vision to life.

A New Font Family

Heebo looks sophisticated and professional. The font family is sleek and has a fashionable sense. It communicates, “I’m reliable, and I care about details.” It’s a Google font, so it’s flexible to work with for web experiences.

Wireframes

The wireframing stage is the most important part of the design process. This is where the strategy from research is placed into a visual experience. Here are a few explorations on the idea of a splash page to divert traffic, bringing focus to the CTA action box, displaying social proofing early on, and exploring different feature layouts.

Design Variations

Let’s quickly dive into the pros and cons of each variation…

Mockup 1 – Splash Page

Pros: This design can divert traffic and help the audience find the information they are looking for. It’s also great for collecting metrics on customer intent.
Cons: The splash page is an outdated design pattern. It adds one more step to customers’ cognitive load, having to decide which service they’re looking for. I don’t recommend it.

Mockup 2 – Colorful Imagery

Pros: This design is eye-catching and really speaks to enterprise or high fashion customers. The page layout is engaging, and the imagery draws the eyes to the CTA button.
Cons: Although vibrant, this page might have too many competing elements. I want to simplify it for the eyes to flow naturally down the page. I also wonder if the high-end look and feel might turn off smaller businesses.

Mockup 3 – Sleek and cool

Pros: The imagery of this design speaks to both small and enterprise customers. The versatility of the look and feel leaves room for the audience to imagine their own projects coming to life. The alternating layout draws the eye to the bottom of the page. The flow of “how it works” to “features” to “trust marks” feels natural and not contrived.
Cons: Although I like the alternating layout, I want to push the design to feel even more “atelier” or workshop-like.

Final Designs

Desktop Layout

Main Navigation

Previously “Success stories” or case studies were hidden from the primary nav. Highlighting it will lead customers to learn from companies like themselves.

Hero

This image is relatable for both audiences. The outfit on the model is stylish yet versatile for different businesses to envision their products. There’s a “cool factor in the model’s posture and tattoo. The messaging of the headline and paragraph is inclusive to both small and large retailers. The metrics emphasize the scalability of the platform.

How it works summary

Emphasize how simple it is to use the platform technology.

Features, Selling Points, and Demo

Each module addresses a customer’s pain point. The demo image gives customers a peek into the simple platform UI. Visual elements such as textures, product shots, and workshop-inspired details, drive home the feeling of a manufacturing studio on demand.

Product Gallery

The gallery allows users to experience the quality of merchandise created by the platform.

Brand logos

The last block of the page is showcasing well-known brands to build trust with the audience. Because the page is short, it creates a nice final touch to seal the deal and convert customers. As a designer, I prefer customer logos being lower in the hierarchy to feel less desperate. A simple A/B test would validate the impact.

Mobile Layout