The Identité Collective on How Investing in Branding Leads to Quicker ROI for Designers
The Identité Collective is a full service creative studio for interior designers and boutique lifestyle brands. Offering bespoke branding, web design and social media content creation, The Identité Collective helps interior designers elevate their digital presence to represent the physical spaces they design. Anastasia Casey, Founder and Creative director of The Identité Collective, shares her recommendations for designers regarding content creation, social media prioritization, website builders, and more.
Anastasia will be hosting an Ivy Webinar on Wednesday, October 10th at 12:30 pm ET / 9:30 am PT about the ways you can monetize your portfolio using affiliate links. Register for the webinar here.
Anastasia, how did you get where you are today?
Anastasia Casey: I lived in eight different houses growing up, all of which my parents personally remodeled. Design has always been a way of life for me. I went to art school in San Francisco for advertising and graphic design. After graduating, I found my niche as the marketing director for a boutique luxury residential real estate firm in Austin.
The combination of my fine art background and corporate marketing experience lead me to combine the two and establish The Identité Collective. I was able to take the tools and strategies we used in a large company with huge budgets, and reconfigure them to work for small businesses. I’ve found my sweet spot and I can’t imagine doing anything else (aside for my secret dreams of being an interior designer).
Our team is spread out all over the country, with designers in Washington DC, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Austin. My husband and I have been living in Austin, Texas for over five years now and love it, but we spend three months a year working from the San Francisco Bay Area.
What’s the Identité Collective all about in 140 characters or less?
AC: The Identité Collective designs brands built around beautiful living through branding, web design + Instagram management.
As a digital expert, how do you recommend designers keep up with the rapidly changing digital landscape when it comes to content creation and branding?
AC: Consistency and adaptability. Sharing quality content regularly is imperative to staying competitive in the industry. Because of how algorithms work on social platforms like Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook, you are rewarded for posting daily.
Interior designers have an advantage in the digital industry – you are constantly producing quality content. Every client mood board, demo day, product list, and install is an opportunity to document and share content via Instagram Stories or professionally shot images.
Because there is an opportunity for so much content, delegating someone on your team to focus their energy on content creation is critical. Whether that’s an intern or a creative agency, digital content has replaced marketing budgets. The sooner you can plan to invest in content management, the more quickly you’ll see the return on your investment.
Based on your knowledge, why is it so important for designers to establish a strong brand tone of voice, look & feel, and consistent brand guidelines?
AC: While many designers craft a signature style in their interior designs over time, trends change and clients requests do as well. By having a strong, established and professionally crafted brand identity, you take control of the way your brand makes clients feel, even if not every portfolio piece is a perfect example of your style.
Branding and web design is particularly important to those designers 3-5 years into their business. By then, they have an established portfolio of work and have curated that signature style. Investing in branding that exemplifies that point of view is critical to continued growth and landing larger projects.
How should a designer work with their photographer to ensure their shots are social media ready?
AC: During any project photoshoot, we recommend all our clients request a 60/40 split. 60% of your images should be vertical, as they perform 3x as well as a horizontal image on both Instagram and Pinterest. Shoot in natural light only and make sure all overhead lights and lamps are off.
If you were to recommend designers ONE social media platform to prioritize, which platform would it be and why?
AC: We can’t deny the power of Instagram. The average user spends over an hour a day on it. Users in the interior design industry spend upwards of 2 hours scrolling. When I interviewed Shea McGee of Studio McGee, she credited her entire business’ growth to Instagram. We invest hundreds of hours a month in our client’s Instagram content and they’ve experienced immense growth because of it.
Designers usually share with us that they simply don’t have time for Instagram…what are some ways designers can make time for this type of marketing? Do you have any recommendations for prioritizing Instagram without it being such a time suck?
AC: Unfortunately, there isn’t a way around investing time in Instagram. It takes consistent energy to be successful. But for many designers, it’s the foundation of their business’ success. Aside from hiring an Instagram manager to curate, copy write, schedule and post your images for you, there are a few tricks to making the task less daunting.
A) Batch schedule: Spend one hour every two weeks scheduling content for the next 14 days. We use Planoly for all our clients and love the way we can lay out the posts visually for the month. You’ll get a push notification on your phone when it’s time to post, it copies over to Instagram and you’re done. Even on an install day, that is totally manageable.
B) Roll out your projects in waves: By releasing the images of a project in phases, you can rotate in new content to your feed for much longer. For example, Project A can be released in four parts.
- Part I: Kitchen + Dining Room
- Part II: Entryway + Living Room
- Part III: Master Bedroom + Bath Part
- IV: Kids Spaces
As you begin to share the new phase of images, they’ll intertwine with previously shared projects. This creates a naturally layered, entirely organic feeling Instagram feed while maintaining constantly new content.
What are your thoughts on Instagram Stories?
AC: Instagram reports users are spending more time watching Instagram Stories than scrolling their feed now. It’s an unbelievably useful tool and imperative to staying in front of your followers. The beauty of Stories as a designer is, you can share so much behind-the-scenes without throwing your beautiful grid off. Images don’t need to be edited, professionally shot or perfectly styled. They add personality to your brand, which can be the differentiating factor when a client is selecting a designer.
For the designers who don’t have a blog…do you recommend it? How should a designer get started with a blog if they don’t have one?
AC: Not only does a blog help with an interior designer’s search engine optimization, or SEO, it also helps drive continual traffic to your website. This keeps your business top of mind to your audience and helps establish credibility.
The easiest way to get started with a blog as an interior designer, is to begin by publishing your portfolio work. Writing 600 words per portfolio project to describe the process of a project, explain what challenges there were, and provide links to product sources is a simple step that converts your audience from followers to potential clients.
Furthermore, having a blog that features your product images allows a safe place for your images to be linked back to. For instance, once you or your web designer has properly set up your blog with Rich Pins, all images that are Pinned from your blog will permanently be linked back to your website, giving you proper credit. We see many designers only using Instagram now, but that runs a big risk. You’ll never own that content and have no control over who obtains, alters, or uses that content. Keeping a presence on Instagram while maintaining a blog is a healthy strategy for continued growth and proper crediting of your work.
Can you share some creative and productive ways designers can make some passive income through their content efforts (plug Reward Style here)?
AC: We love working with our clients to create passive income through their existing portfolio of work using RewardStyle. Every project photo has an opportunity to earn a sales commission for the products sourced, at no additional cost to your audience. By using Ivy’s Product Clipper tool, you can easily save products sourced from projects and link them in RewardStyle when it’s time to share.
For Lindsey Brooke Design, one of our favorite clients, we craft project reveal posts on her blog weekly to help people “Get the Look”. Even if a product is no longer available, we can find something similar and link to it. Additionally, we share a product roundup in her stories after a reveal post, so followers can easily shop the links directly from her feed.
If you’re a new designer without professionally shot projects, you link similar items for your readers. For example, we curate a weekly list of “favorites” for some of our clients and share them in their Instagram stories.
What’s your favorite website template builder?
AC: We love Wix because it is as customizable as WordPress, but with the ease of Squarespace. It is truly the next phase for web design. We are able to create something entirely unique, interactive, sophisticated and sleek using Wix. Squarespace works great for a lot of designers, but it’s a cookie cutter website builder.
In your opinion, why is it important for a designer to use a business management software such as Ivy to manage their business needs?
AC: It’s the level of professionalism, quick turnaround and attention to detail that makes a designer stand out. In a highly saturated market – especially with platforms like Instagram and Pinterest – consistency is key. A business management software like Ivy is what will allow your business to create sustainable success.
What’s next for Identité?
The exciting part of owning a small business is that it is constantly evolving. As technologies change, our expertise has to as well. As we continue to focus our energy on providing branding and web design for interior designers, we’re working to expand our social media team to manage more Instagram accounts for clients as well.
I have a team of six incredible women working with me and I don’t imagine growing the studio much beyond that. As the creative director, I want to ensure my hands are always touching every project, so they can continue to be as organic, layered, and refined as the incredible spaces our clients design.
Ivy is the the # 1 software for designers. To learn more about Ivy, schedule a demo with an Ivy Guru who can show you how designers use Ivy to streamline their workflow and make more time for what they love, design.