Project Spotlight: Jenifer Acosta Development

I realized the other day that I haven’t shared a client project here in entirely too long, and since I just finished up a fantastic brand + site design project I thought this would be a great time to rectify that!

Jenifer Acosta reached out to me in early January needing a brand identity that would fit her rapidly growing real estate development business. She had quickly become known as the go-to person in Bay City Michigan for bringing these beautiful historical buildings back to life in a sustainable way, but no one knew her as a brand… she was just Jenifer, or “that woman who bought the cheese grater building”. 

The brand she had thrown together back when the business was just beginning hadn’t stuck with her, and she needed something to grow to the next level with. Not so coincidentally this describes my ideal client, so I knew right away we’d be a great fit!

One of the nuances of Jenifer’s brand design was that for better or worse real estate development is still a fairly male dominated industry, and she herself has a very feminine style. One of the images she sent me to represent her style was a scalloped marble tray from her *insanely gorgeous* home office. On the flip side of that her brand needs to resonate with investors who are primarily male. Beyond that her target market also cares about their neighborhood, wants to make a difference while making money, and wants to work on projects with character. All of which are unique in the world of real estate development, especially on a commercial level.

My family has been in the construction industry for generations, commercial and residential, and I actually worked with my Dad building log homes for years before I ended up at this adorable little wooden desk, so I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on how to keep your feminine side while showing up and being respected in a masculine industry. I also know how to rock a tool belt, but that’s for a different post.

Because Jenifer chose my brand + site package we had a three week window to create a mood board, logo design, brand guide, four pieces of collateral, and a Squarespace site. I’ll write that process in more detail soon, because I know it sounds *ridiculous*, but I swear it all fits in there nicely!

My first challenge was coming up with a mood board that encompassed Jenifer’s feminine side - warm luxurious finishes and that scalloped marble tray; her love of minimal designs like the Chanel logo; and the cool, polished look her brand needed to present to potential investors.

Side note: this turned out later to be the easiest part of the branding!

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Moving from the mood board to the logo design is sometimes like chipping away at a rock until you find a dinosaur bone, only more attractive and less dusty. This part of the project really requires a back and forth and good feedback from the client, and I was fortunate to have a great client in Jenifer. None of the initial logo concepts felt just right to her, but after a quick phone call in between meetings (she’s one busy lady!) we were able to narrow things down to one direction and use revisions to come up with the perfect logo.

Important note: Feedback is such a HUGE part of the design process! I never expect initial concepts to be a perfect fit, they’re meant to give the client and designer a direction to go so they can work together to create something awesome.

>> Related: Read how to give great feedback and get shit done.

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After the logo design was complete I moved on to her collateral pieces, which had their own set of challenges. One of the original logo concepts included these super cool flat design buildings with little tiny architectural details. That concept didn’t make it through to the final logo, but for a day or so we thought they would make some awesome site icons. I was wrong once before (ha!) and I was here too. The icons were cut from the list and replaced with a beautiful branded invoice though, which in the end I think works better in her case.

The final week of the project was spent translating the design into a Squarespace site that showed Jenifer’s character and could grow with the business. Ordinarily I wouldn’t even attempt to build a website in a week from start to launch, but when you’ve spent the last two weeks coming up with the graphics, and you already have the content in hand, it’s just a matter of putting it all together. It’s sort of like when you adult really well and cut all the vegetables up before starting to cook dinner instead of rushing around trying to chop potatoes while the onions are sautéing. Or so I hear.

So there you go, from mood board to live website in three weeks! If you’re ever in Bay City Michigan stop by and check out some of Jenifer’s projects, and if you’re thinking of rebranding or launching a new site this year… give me a call!*  

* Don’t actually call me though. I much prefer emails. #becauseIntrovert