Five Things We’ve Learned Along Our Journey

Every business venture involves a journey, and ours is no exception! Here are five important lessons we’ve learned along our journey at Ashley & Malone:

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1. Nothing is ever 100%. Whether it’s finances, a client proposal or a logo that a client fell in love with, we’re always prepared for changes in our business. We might have a whole year where every client pays on time and then boom….three clients are late in a single month. While this isn’t an ideal scenario, we always have a backup plan. This consists of savings, hiring well and only when we need it and living a “somewhat” modest home life. We never want to overextend ourselves so that our business (i.e. our livelihood!) can’t function.

2. Design with purpose. This is something we have explored deeply as we’ve gotten more experience under our belts. It’s not always about what looks pretty, it’s about how it functions, the meaning behind the design and how clients perceive it. This was actually one of the reasons for our last rebrand. People always told us how fun and pretty our brand was, and to me that just wasn’t enough. We wanted to communicate more about our business than just the aesthetic part.

3. Adapt. We’re continually changing our business, always for the better. Our ultimate goal is an exceptional client experience. So, with that in mind, collecting thoughtful feedback from our clients is of the utmost importance. We sit down after EACH client’s project and review what went well, what could have been done better and what comments the client had about our process. As an example, a client may have been confused about how they launch their website or about printing prices….it’s these little things that we adjust along the way to ensure the client is always receiving flawless communication.

4. Ignore your competitors. This one is such a weird subject. From a business perspective, you have to know who your competitors are – it’s just smart. From a solopreneur standpoint, being constantly aware of your competitors is entirely draining – emotionally and creatively. I’ll admit when we first opened Ashley & Malone, almost three years ago, we didn’t have too many competitors. Since then the online design world has grown drastically, and it’s easy to get sucked into what others are doing. I personally find this especially exhausting on Pinterest, with the never-ending stream of everyone’s brand boards and styled mockups. So I just don’t follow anyone! Instead, I get my design-nerd fix by browsing websites like Dribble or Behance, reading magazines and working on my craft through drawing on paper.

5. Do what works best for you. Running a business is hard stuff, and it’s SO easy to see what others are doing online. How they book clients, how many they book and how long they spend with each one. So  you find yourself thinking, “I can do that too – if it works for them, it should work for me.” Well guess what, it might not. Everyone’s process, business and clients are completely different. Over the years we’ve evolved our own intake process, payment schedules and timelines to meet our needs and best serve our clients. No one knows your business better than you, so make sure your processes suit you perfectly.

With all these lessons learned, we’ve become more streamlined in our business and more in love with our work than ever! If you’re planning a brand overhaul next year or are planning to launch something new, we’d love to work with you – please reach out if you’d like to chat about how we can help!

Launch Love: Brooke Keegan Special Events!

We’re excited today to share a behind-the-scenes peek at another of our newly-launched brands, this time for the wonderful Brooke Keegan Special Events! Keep reading for all the details!

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Brooke Keegan came to us as a referral from another client and we couldn’t have been more thrilled to work with her! (Truth be told, Brooke was actually on my secret list of brands that I wanted to work with – so imagine my happiness when she reached out!)

Words can’t accurately express how amazing it was working with Brooke and learning more about her incredible wedding planning company. Of course we were inspired by the calibre of events she designs, but that wasn’t all. Brooke’s goals for the future made her branding journey incredibly rewarding, because truly, helping our clients bring a dream to reality is one of the best parts of our job.

As part of the branding process, one of the most important elements that we wanted to communicate is that Brooke Keegan Special Events is a destination company. With her experience, expertise and creative vision, Brooke is able to expertly execute weddings all over the world, and that’s really where her true passion lies. We wanted to infuse this passion into everything we created.

Through our designs, we wanted to attract clients who stay at luxury boutique hotels and who cherish intimate and thoughtful events. The “Brooke Keegan couple” is wholeheartedly rooted in family values and their guests’ experience. Spoiling the guests throughout the entire event – with chauffeured rides from the airport, curated welcome bags in the hotel rooms, and a luxurious day-after tented brunch –  is part of Brooke’s signature service.

With that in mind, not only did we want to communicate a high level of service, but also Brooke’s creativity, warmth and professionalism. We achieved this by using soft, delicate colors to express romance and a down-to-earth feeling. We brought in texture with a stripe linen pattern to capture Brooke’s unique design style, best described as “natural elegance,” which is showcased in all her events. And we must talk about her new iconic symbol! This symbol’s design is rooted in classic design details, and softly resembles a B and backward K. The icon really gives the brand presence, conveying memorability and that boutique feeling we were going for.

The Brooke Keegan Special Events website transforms Brooke’s brand into a modern and thoughtful experience. There are special brand touches included throughout the site, from testimonials from her clients to stunning large images of her work and consistent graphic details pulled from her brand board (an essential part of our own client experience!).

We couldn’t be more proud of Brooke’s new branding, and are so happy to have had the opportunity to partner with her in its creation. We’d love to hear from other luxury wedding designers and other professionals who envision a beautiful new brand – please reach out if we can be of service!

Launch Love: Chic Celebrations!

There’s nothing we love more than announcing the launch of one of our clients’ new brands, and today is no exception! We’re so excited to share the details of all that we created for Chic Celebrations, a fabulous event design and production agency in one of our favorite markets: beautiful Southern California!

 

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Chic Celebrations and its owner, Gianna SanFilippo , specialize in addressing creative challenges and creating exquisitely executed events. Their eye for design, ability to transform blank spaces into unforgettable settings, and their strategic approach to managing the event itself, definitely set them apart from other event planners. Chic Celebrations offers a variety of services, from comprehensive, full-service or partial wedding planning to the complete coordination of social and corporate events. Gianna’s unique vision, positive energy and attention to detail truly shine through in her work, so we were especially eager to help her showcase it in the work we created for her!

Throughout the time we were working with Gianna, what really stood out to us was her concierge-style approach to working with her clients. Gianna will completely customize a package for her wedding couples, and truly goes above and beyond in fulfilling any detail – large or small – that they request. Also, Gianna’s artistic style is one of the most impressive we’ve ever seen, and you know we’ve seen a lot!

Something else notable about Gianna is her natural and organic style, something we wanted her branding to reflect perfectly. It was important to us to convey not only how she’s inspired by nature, but also her fun and chic side – her website mentions her “jeans, signature messy bun and oversized handbag,” which is so authentically Gianna! The brand identity we created incorporated a logo infused with a watercolor background and lush greenery, paired with design elements in a bold black-and-white stripe to punch up the personality factor.

Ultimately, we created a complete brand, responsive website and gorgeous stationery for Chic Celebrations, and we’re really proud of the result. We’re thrilled not only to include this fantastic project in our portfolio, but also to have developed a wonderful relationship with Gianna. Working with our amazing, dreamy clients is, by far, the best part of what we do!

Are you in need of a beautiful website, blog, or a complete brand do-over? If so, we’d love to chat with you about our process and get you on our schedule!