Sometimes you meet someone whose life story stops you in your tracks. You stand in awe at the privilege to hear it from the source … and humbled by the opportunity to contribute to it. This was our experience with building a brand identity and website for living legend Jacques-André Istel.
We cannot possibly share all the details here of what Jacques has accomplished over his more than 90 years – his story is that big – but we can, with great pride, share the website we took tremendous care in creating for his latest endeavor: the History of Humanity in Granite.
Our first task was to wrap our arms around the idea of the history of humanity and then understand Jacques’s mission to communicate it in granite! The only way to accomplish this was with a site visit.
In February 2022, James visited with Jacques and his wife, Felicia, in the town they established together: Felicity, California. James spoke with the Istels at length, toured the museum grounds, and sent the Beyond Marketing team numerous first-hand photos and videos for context and perspective.
Our challenge was significant. Correctly presenting the general “what” and the specific “why” of humanity’s history carved in granite was extremely important and required careful strategy. The museum is exceptionally executed with professionalism, sincere deliberation, and international cooperation – it is not a kooky roadside attraction, as was the general impression before we partnered with the Istels.
To begin, we would need to distill the valuable (and sometimes unintentionally hidden) information from the multiple websites Jacques had built about the different facets of the museum, and capture it all on one, easy-to-navigate site. It was a grand, all-hands-on-deck puzzle that required a combined effort of nearly 300 hours across more than six months – and a lot of whiteboard space, spreadsheets, sticky notes, meetings and emails.
Once our path was clear, we were heads down, full steam ahead.
Each facet of the museum had its own identity. Brand marks were incohesive, naming conventions were disparate, messaging was mixed, and cross promotion was lacking.
Together with our Brand Strategist, we united all elements under the name “History of Humanity in Granite” and established a singular brand mark. The name – which is a riff on a name Jacques was already using for one area of the museum – conveys the what, and the logo is clean, strong, elegant, sophisticated, and easy to read.
With the logo in play, we set about fulfilling the extensive sitemap through congruent website design (complete with mega menu) and optimized copy that would clearly communicate the “what” and the “why” of the museum.
Jacques has lived a long and remarkable life. Media coverage about Jacques and (what’s now known as) the History of Humanity in Granite – and photography of both – is vast. In addition to what Jacques shared with our team directly, we had an impressive bank to draw from online about Jacques, Felicia, and the museum. Narrowing down what to showcase on the site and what to omit was no easy feat.
By the time we were ready for go-live, the History of Humanity in Granite site was polished, user-friendly, and poised for high performance. We are all thrilled with the site and, most importantly, so are Jacques and Felicia.
Working alongside Jacques to design and build his brand and website was rewarding for the whole Beyond Marketing team. To commemorate our shared accomplishment, we joined the museum’s Maze of Honor with an engraved granite panel of our team!
Look for us if you visit the History of Humanity in Granite!
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