In 2018, Sailors Lounge wanted to refresh their brand identity out of a need to stand out to their patrons and from competition. Having garnered a reputation as a great lounge in Lagos, the business owners wanted to create a more distinct and wholesome brand.
I was lead designer on the project and part of a team of strategists, business executives and account managers, who worked on the redesign effort for both the brand & website.
Charting a new course
Prior to kicking off the project, I had a series of meetings with the client to understand what the motivations were for the project. Stating business and strategic reasons as the major motivations, the client expressed his concern for the impression non-regulars had about the establishment. The old identity was stiff. It didn't accurately portray what the brand represented and its value propositions to customers.
To top this, their website looked like it was built in the early 2000s. It was slow and clunky and didn't have modern features that brought the business closer to its customers.
I supplemented my stakeholder interviews and preliminary user research with a targeted survey to understand the perception of the brand in the mind of its patrons and the general public. The survey was targeted at individuals who fit "the ideal customer" persona as described by the client. How did people feel when they heard the name "Sailors Lounge"? A cross section of the survey participants comprised of people in the age groups 26 to 45, who were career professionals, business owners, and lived in close proximity to the business. Due to its strategic location in a busy district, patronage was regular but needed to be better.
What insights were uncovered?
In the process, we uncovered a startling discovery. A patron had given a negative review of the business on social media and it had spread like wildfire. During a night out, she had been treated disrespectfully by the wait staff and turned away from their doors, because she didn't "match the vibe of the lounge". Due to her influence in social circles, word got around and it led to people sharing similar experiences, all equally as bad or worse.
We took this information to the client and during the course of a follow up interview, we discovered a key motivation for the brand refresh. The client wanted to be clearer about the kind of audience it catered to, becuase he had noticed a drop in the quality of patrons and believed it adversely affected revenue and the brand's reputation. This logically led to the next question - "How might we upscale the brand, without turning people against it?"
What we did
A new Sailors brand
To begin solving the problems with the brand image, we created a new brand strategy and developed clever marketing campaigns that coincided with the festive holidays and the expected influx of new patrons. With a goal to organically drive the change, we setup up and planned thematic events aimed at driving conversions for the new type of customers the business wanted, thereby improving the overall experience for every customer. I collaborated with Seyi, a super talented and creative brand and business strategist, who was in charge of driving this effort. It turned out to be a huge success for all the parties involved from ideation to implemnentation.
To redesign the identity, we took apart the old identity and plotted what worked against what didn't. Opting to stay with the existing colors, we created a new logo based on the elements associated with the brand. Working up from samples and countless revisions, we settled on a emblematic logo that clearly portrayed the rustic feel of the brand, the character of its customers and its associations with sailing and sea life. The result was a logo and typeface that was flexible enough to be used on a variety of applications and materials. Making it easy to be engraved into the floating wooden decks and embroidered on to brand merch.
To tie it all together, I designed and built a website that showcased the new direction of the brand. Since, I already understood the customer journey and how it aligned to business needs, I continued the design process by creating user stories, followed by information architecture design, with the end goal to deliver a sitemap and user flows for the different personas I created. This helped to visualize the pain points and frustrations for each kind of customer I talked to. To improve on this and support my decisions, I organized a card sorting session to properly layout the relationship between information clusters on the website and how they all fit together.
Because I was largely responsible for designing and implementing the redesign, I chose a suite of tools that allowed me get early feedback and quickly iterate based on reasonable demands. For every page a customer would interact with, I worked with a copywriter to ideate and design low fidelity wireframes that helped us understand how text and imagery would play out on the final website. This yielded positive results, as we had determined during user research that a majority of Sailors Lounge's customers primarily used mobile devices. It informed my decision to design mobile-first and for speed.
As a culmination to the project, I designed and built a booking reservation feature that allowed the business know what menu items were customer favorites, what days were busy days and allowed customers book reservations with no stress. Of course, this was tracked and measured to improve the experience overtime for both parties. As an added bonus, we decided to include a takeout system where customers could order for meals ahead of time and stopby to pick them up.