CASE STUDY #01

DS Launch

Creating a Brand Experience That Stands Apart

Introduction

At the beginning of 2016, the JN Agency team began a four month long project to build an in-house sales tool that would eventually evolve into its own branded entity. We had the opportunity to build this brand from scratch and I’m stoked to have played a part. This study is a glimpse into the process of creating DS Launch.

 

To start with some background: DS Launch is a premier solution for startups in the direct sales industry, providing the essential branded products and services that help distributors find success in the field. The core of their service offering is creating beautifully designed web-to-print systems; from development, to production, all the way to order fulfillment. Their goal is to help startups get off the ground and find success – building true, long-lasting partnerships in the process. The culmination of their efforts is a simple online system that allows clients to build their own pricing for complex print projects and lowers the barrier to entry for smaller startups by offering industry-leading minimum order quantities in addition to free branded merchandise stores.

The Problem

Among a crowd of more conventional service providers, it was essential that DS Launch distinguish themselves. They were rethinking the established processes of the industry and it had to be clear that they were a front-runner for progression. Our team’s challenge was to create a brand experience that was as ambitious as the DS Launch vision and would help elevate them above the competition.

The Solution

Oddly enough, in it’s initial pitch, this project began with completely different goals. Our team was planning on redesigning the JN Agency website; adding some key features that would help prospective clients get pricing quotes on printed jobs and displaying some information about our branded web-to-print systems. However, after a few pre-planning meetings, the discussion quickly changed gears and we realized that we needed to shift our approach. Instead of redesigning the JN Agency site, we needed to create a separate entity and strategically position it around our product offering – this is where we introduced the idea of DS Launch.
We realized that if we created a new platform around this subset of services that JN Agency offered, we could truly tailor the experience to the clients’ needs. Additionally, this would help build a sense of simplicity, approachability and ease-of-use around our products.

The initial artboard scrawled with  pre-strategy doodles of a JN Agency rebrand which then morphed into DS Launch ideation.

With the brand strategy rooted, the visual identity began to take shape, focusing in on a concentrated objective: to be as visually striking as it was straightforward and recognizable. Several forms and silhouettes were drafted before arriving at the “pointer” mark; the mascot that would propel DS Launch into the market and allow them to rethink the existing industry structure. As the final touches of the logo were laid into place, we rallied around the new identity, creating a series of colors, icons, and graphic elements that would provide the soapbox from which DS Launch could tell its story.
With the identity wrapping up, it came time to build an actionable marketing site. From the start, we knew that one of the key challenges of this part of the project would be the sheer weight of the content. The DS Launch service offering is complex and contains many nuances that could become very confusing to a prospective client. We needed to condense the content that would be required throughout the website and present it in digestible portions that were easily comprehensible and that would pique a prospective client’s curiosity. We aimed to inform the audience, helping them gain a better understanding of their needs and how DS Launch could assist them with those needs. Our ideation process began with strategizing possible layouts for the homepage and top level pages which helped to build a structure that would frame the content and inform the visual design. Our unpolished wireframes became the roadmap for marrying the copy to the layout, proving to be a flexible and iterative process.
Those initial wireframes then fueled the momentum of the project into the prototyping phase, where visual components were introduced alongside a more refined set of written content. One of the most crucial prototypes was the “Name-Your-Own-Price” page (later dubbed the Interactive Pricing Builder). The Builder contains a set of dropdown windows, each with information on a particular component of a distributor kit and containing options that variably determine a price. The price is displayed in a box alongside the dropdown stack so that the user can configure the components of the kit to their liking while seeing their price affected in real time.

High-fidelity prototypes helped implement the brand styling into the technical components of the pricing builder.

We tested the flow of the site and the Builder with several users, utilizing the feedback to iterate on the design and improve the interface. We completed the development cycle with a refined digital experience; one in which the user sits at the forefront. Every step in the flow is crafted to create a sense of delight and intrigue. The site delivers a frictionless experience with simple actions, straightforward content, and refreshing visual aesthetics.

The Outcome

The DS Launch brand is built for constant upward motion; ascending a step beyond the limits of the established traditionalists that previously owned the industry. They are breathing new life into the space. Reaching out with an open hand; ready to build lasting partnerships. And the prospects are looking good so far: within the first quarter of launching, the brand initiated a new consultancy partnership and onboarded 5 new clients. This was an almost 50% increase in client acquisition from DS Launch’s parent operation. This rapid growth shows that DS Launch has great potential to create a pivot in the way companies operate within their industry.

Evaluation

The brand’s initial adopters and prospects show a focus on the web-to-print /ecommerce portals as the foremost desired service. Adversely, DS Launch’s marketing site & Interactive Pricing Builder were centralized on the print offering. The company is still in its early stages of growth so it is possible that ramped up marketing efforts may help gather more traction for the print offering. However, it is worth noting that they have found quicker success with their digital offering, which could lead to future iterations and solutions to the DS Launch brand story. Proposed adaptations for the future include:

 

  • Separate landing page for digital product offering
  • 50-50 split user flow for homepage and/or top level web pages, creating focal points on two major offerings: a funnel for print and a funnel for web.
  • Taking the “Interactive Pricing Builder” concept and adopting it for the digital offering; i.e. “Configure-Your-Own-Webstore”

Thank You’s

Thanks to the additional contributors who helped bring this project to completion: Joe Bui (Project Manager), Ryan Johnson (Contributing Illustrator) and Nick Huynh (Contributing Developer)

THANKS FOR READING!

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