Novella Brandhouse is a boutique branding and design firm that helps companies define, launch, and grow their business. They are a certified women-owned enterprise located in the Crossroads area of Kansas City, with a quirky mix of a team that includes designers, strategists, copywriters, and their favorite employee, Hugo the dog!
We sat down with three members of the Novella Brandhouse team (well, four, including Hugo) to chat all about their creative process, managing clients, and how a rock-solid hosting partner helps them do their best work.
A huge thank you to:
Elizabeth (Liz) McFadden, Founder & Director of Brand Strategy
Clare McClaren, Founder & Creative Director
Scott Shorter, Developer
Hugo the dog, Chief Welcoming Officer
Novella’s ideal client
Liz and Clare have grown up in the industry and worked with all kinds of big brands and large corporations in Chicago, Los Angeles, and beyond. Ultimately, the two found themselves back in Kansas City in 2009 and bonded over a mutual love for passionate business owners and wide-eyed entrepreneurs. They prefer to be in the trenches with people who have a personal stake in the company’s success, refuse to rest, and still operate like kids with a dream.
“We typically work with scaling businesses,” Liz said. “Our sweet spot is that 50-100 employee firm, so maybe a company that doesn’t have their own in-house marketing, or they might have one person but that person has to fill a lot of expertise and a lot of different kinds of roles. So we’ll come in and be their complete marketing agency.”
The branding and design process
Novella’s offering is comprehensive and gives clients an opportunity to truly level up their success. They have a pretty strong branding-first mindset, but are keenly aware that in almost all cases, a rebrand is likely going to include a stunning new (and quite possibly award-winning!) website. Their process typically looks a little something like this:
The team at Novella Brandhouse will sit down with their client and dig into all the details: what their business is all about, what their specific role is, what they love about it, and what parts of it is stressing them out. They’ll take all that information and roll it into proposed design concepts; once those are finalized, it’s straight into building!
The first look!
This one is a fan favorite, because during Novella’s process, their client actually gets to see a beta site. (Many times, when people work with agencies, they tend to not see much, if any, progress along the way.) But, since Novella uses Flywheel to host their sites, they can send the demo version to their clients every step of the way. This allows their customers to get a real look and feel at their virtual business, which is an awesome perk!
“When we are working with a client on a new website, we know that we can introduce Flywheel into the picture and be absolutely certain that it’s going to be a great fit for our client,” Clare said. “Once we’ve gotten design approval and we know where we are headed with the website, we bring them right into the loop with Flywheel so they can check what’s happening with their website in real time. They absolutely LOVE how accessible it is to them in the process; it doesn’t feel like something that’s happening behind closed doors where they every once in a while get a sneak peek.”
“We know that we can introduce Flywheel into the picture and be absolutely certain that it’s going to be a great fit for our client.”-Clare McClaren
Pending the client’s final approval, they launch the site live (which typically only takes 24-48 hours) and let the client sit with it for a bit while they finish working out all the last little details, like testing on devices and adding SEO. Novella Brandhouse also gives their clients training so that when the website is officially handed over, they’re comfortable with how it works and are left empowered to love and own their new brand and digital experience!
Their agency goals
One of Novella Brandhouse’s goals is taking the overall process they’ve developed and fine-tune it so they can move forward faster and at an even greater scale.
“One of our big goals for this year is getting us on the way to $1 million dollars in revenue,” Liz said. “As part of that we are improving our processes, and we are really working on extending our scope outside of the Kansas City area and growing regionally. Utilizing partners such as Flywheel really increases our scope of what we can offer, and we can be more efficient and handle more clients.”
“One of our big goals for this year is getting us on the way to $1 million dollars in revenue.”Liz McFadden
How hosting plays into it all!
“I decided to try Flywheel after meeting a Flywheel employee at a local WordCamp KC meeting,” Scott said. “I gave it a shot and tried it out. What I found I really liked immediately was the fact that I no longer had to worry about security. It was my number one problem with some of the bulk hosters, and it simplified the management of the sites. As a small business, I didn’t need to hire staff to do server maintenance stuff.”
At the time, Novella Brandhouse’s clients were coming to them with stories of horrible hosting experiences they had with their website. It became a client experience issue for them; after all, the team was putting all this work into building a beautiful brand and WordPress site, and to have it then be offline, hacked, or who knows what else…well, it became pretty clear that they wanted to find a partner to recommend who was going to take care of their clients as well as they would. (Just one of the many benefits of a managed WordPress host.)
“After the first 4 or 5 websites, we kind of made the decision to collectively say, ‘We are working with Flywheel only.’”-Clare McClaren
From there, they became a part of Flywheel’s Agency Partner program, which provides a lot of great education about how to package and resell services, earn sweet perks for your business, and provide an incredible service for your clients.
“We continue to work with Flywheel and we have yet to be disappointed,” Liz said. “Flywheel has exceeded our expectations at every turn and it’s become such an integrated part of our business. As a small business we can’t be an expert at every single thing, so having that partner that is an expert at that thing is so indispensable to us and it’s part of why we’re successful.”
Flywheel helps agencies, like Novella Brandhouse, do their best work by making it easy to manage hosting, collaborate with their team, and bill clients under their own brilliant brand. Learn more about Flywheel for Agencies here!
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