Like most interactive agencies, Bravo! Marketing's own Web site wasn't terribly good. Executive VP Rick Scherle explains, "When Bravo! tried to do any work for itself, we just stumbled and stumbled. Everyone had an opinion and we're all in the business so we all feel like our opinion is really important." Too many cooks spoiled the broth.
Bravo! decided to redesign its site ... but this time the process was radically changed. Scherle says, "The breakthrough happened when we realized we would never treat a client like this! We don't let lots of different people on the client side talk directly to our designers. So we decided to pick an account management team for ourselves. There was one point person on the client side -- that was me. If I needed to review the progress or decisions with other people in the company I acted as a marketing director on the client side would."
On the "agency-side", creative director Bianca Kosoy also treated Bravo! just like a regular client. Scherle says, "The storyboards were intensive, it was like a small movie. Every single graphic, click and motion was depicted."
The creative team researched Bravo's site logs before making the decision the add Flash to the new site. Scherle says, "We looked really hard at that. We were really worried about it. Web logs will tell you what browser visitors have and from there you can figure out if Flash shipped with it. We found 85% of our audience could use Flash." Nevertheless, the team made a non-Flash version available as well.
The last design decision was the addition of music to the site. Scherle explains, "We wanted something that would add to the multimedia experience, but didn't want something that would overpower you and drive you crazy! We looked at a lot of music and made sure it's really easy to turn off as the site loads."
Bravo's new site won Best Advertising Web site from the 2000 Web Awards. Scherle says, "We were all pretty surprised by that. Our philosophy has always been if we win something that's cool, but what we really care about is results."
So how were results? Bravo's business is booming. So much so, in fact, that they keep having to hire more people. Scherle says, "I just had that first moment of truth where I walked in the lobby and somebody was standing there, and I didn't know if they worked for us or if they were there to deliver something." Due to East Coast demand, the San Francisco-based agency has also just opened a Boston office.
NOTES: Why are, as our editors have noted in the past, so many interactive agencies Web sites so badly done? We asked Scherle for his explanation. He said, "Agencies tend to make two mistakes. The first is they don't treat their own site seriously. They don't apply the same level of skill, talent or effort to their own site as they would for their clients. The second, less common, mistake is they just turn the thing over to their designers who are perhaps frustrated by the limits of the clients' sites. So they say, 'go head, here's your chance to do cool new stuff!' It usually ends up being content-empty. Entertaining but there's not enough information."
BTW: Interested in working for Bravo! in Boston? They are seeking account managers, PR professionals and designers. No, you can't work from home. But yes, if you're the right person and you want to move to Boston, this could be your expense-paid chance! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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