BAOLA SEATING BALLS🧵

Crafting a brand personality and
redesigning the website

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Project Overview

Problem

Baola is an online shop that sells luxury seating balls for the home/office. They collaborate with artists to create unique "Editions," or removable covers that go with each Baola ball. The product was originally marketed to people suffering from back pain, but the founder realized this was too narrow and wasn't representative of actual customers.

I worked with Baola to define the true user, shift and widen the brand's image, and mock up the website with new designs and copy.

Tasks

  • UX Research: Interviewed a past customer; analyzed competitors; conducted branding and content strategy sessions with the founder

  • UX Writing: Created Baola's first-ever Content Style Guide, including a mission, vision, brand values, brand personality, and voice/tone; made a Content Inventory and rewrote all website copy (except for blogs)

  • Content Design: Drafted website page mockups that combine content and copy for better usability and customer engagement

  • CX Writing (work in progress): Made new Facebook ads that target specific groups based on user research and remote work needs

Rethinking the Baola Brand

The product, its users, and our hopes for the future

⭐ To view this section in Google Slides, check out Baola at First Glance

Form & Function

Baola boasts many features, including an artistic design and local manufacturing in Europe with high quality materials. The product is comfy, stays in place, has a machine washable cover, as well as the ergonomic benefits of a normal Swiss ball.

Collaboration

Every Baola is created by working with real male and female artists. The designs are thus unique. The abstract patterns can resonate with both genders and fit into a wide variety of interior themes. The Desert Edition is popular, likely for its neutral look.

Product Package

Each purchase comes with an inflatable ball (size S, M, or L), an "Edition" design (cover), and tools for connecting a pump. People have to figure out what size they want and use their own bike or car tire pump.

Brand Evolution & Goals

Baola is no longer just for back pain or ergonomics, but acts as a functionable interior design item. Baola balls are works of art embodying the high quality materials and designer prints that go into making each and every one. Therefore, my goals were to:

  • Make it more obvious what Baola’s value proposition is and what specific functions the product provides to users.

  • Narrow down who the primary user is and make sure website content and copy reflects their wants, needs, and motivations.

  • Create a voice/tone for Baola that helps differentiate the product through distinct branding, personality, and values.

Competitor Analysis

Looking at what makes Baolo different from the rest

Competitor Analysis Goals

What can we learn from competitor companies selling Swiss balls as seating balls? How do they market their product, and what functions do they prioritize? What copy and imagery are they using to paint a picture in the minds of potential customers?

I wanted to understand how Baola can further differentiate itself from these companies to develop its own distinct personality and style.


VLUV

The Essential Shape of Sitting

Summary

VLUV emphasizes that their product is a comfortable, ergonomic chair alternative that aligns with a simple, minimalistic Scandinavian aesthetic with German design details.

Product Features

  • Three sizes
  • Different materials and fabrics available
  • Subdued, single colors (gray, brown, blue, beige, peach, yellow)
  • Six design elements (handle, bottom ring to prevent rolling, upright form, double layer, lightweight, double seam)

Imagery

Their imagery is cozy, minimalistic, and rustic, highlighting the home, family (parents with kids), and working in what appear to be home offices or more relaxed shared spaces.


Bloon Paris

The Balloon Design Seat

Summary

Bloon Paris focuses more on being a replacement chair for working people or adults that want to improve their posture and maintain back health.

The product was made by a French designer and an osteopath.

Product Features

  • Comes in L, XL
  • Made from PVC, polyester, and Oeko-tex
  • Earthy, neutral colors
  • Nobilis (custom-made models) can be ordered
  • Anti-rolling weighted base, machine washable, easy to carry, ergonomic
  • Handle encircles the ball, visually defining the product

Imagery

Their imagery, like VLUV, has a homey, intimate feel. However, they lean more modern, featuring pictures of adults and home office spaces, instead of family or children. They also use moving images at the top of their landing page.


Vivora Luno & STRYVE

More sitting ball brands

  • Luno is similar to VLUV in look, but they offer different series with prices based on their materials (felt, chenille, leatherette, etc.). Vivora also produces Niko, or ball chairs for kids.
  • They seem to be catering to a wide customer range, like everyday people who want moderately priced sitting balls to use for comfort, work, or exercise.

  • Their imagery is unpretentious and down to earth, including diverse people (home office workers, parents, yoga enthusiasts).
  • STRYVE sells active balls and balance balls, in addition to other fitness products for the gym and at home use.

  • Their brand tag protrudes from the product to be grabbed like a handle.

  • For images, they use clean, minimalistic pictures, as well as animated illustrations that demonstrate different features. They seem to target men with a black and white, masculine aesthetic to their website design.

Compare & Contrast

Competitor Analysis Summary

  • Colors: Most competitor brands feature single color designs in neutral or pale tones (grays, browns, blues, beiges, yellows). Baola has a comparatively strong visual identity.

  • Handles: VLUV, Vivora Luno, and STRYVE have protruding handles, while Bloon Paris has a wrap around handle. Baola lacks a handle, but that contributes to its sleek look.

  • Imagery: Different brands utilize video, animations, short clips, or various use case photos. Baola may benefit from diversifying its imagery and showing people interacting with the product.

  • Product Design: While some brands have special origin stories or point out key design features, none of them commission individual artists. Baola is unique in that each Edition is truly a work of art.

Takeaway: We need to ensure the continuity of Baola's strong visual identity through all digital copy.


Tagline Brainstorming

Assessing the Tagline

Original copy: We collaborate with artists from all over the world to create unique Swiss balls

Problem: The company’s vision of what makes Baolo unique may not get across to people who read this tagline. The term “unique” is vague, doesn’t capture the essence of what the product is, and can be interpreted in many different ways.

Key words: luxury, made in Europe, high quality, high-end, premium, designer, artistic, unique, home or office, collaborate, comfortable, modern or contemporary, creativity, graphic, patterns


Crafting the Baola Brand

Defining the mission, values, and personality

⭐ To view this section in Google Slides, check out An On Brand Voice/Tone Guide

Vision

Original: To help people enjoy life to the fullest with top quality, visually aesthetic Swiss balls.

Revised: To help people enjoy quality and comfort with high end, visually aesthetic seating balls.

The founder felt that "enjoy life to the fullest" was too over the top, so I changed the copy to highlight Baola's best features.

Mission Statement

Baola is where anyone* can get luxury, handmade, locally produced Swiss balls that provide alternative, ergonomic seating with expressive designs that look amazing in any home or office space

*Anyone includes:

  • People seeking back pain relief
  • People who enjoy or appreciate art
  • Creatives or designers by profession

Brand Values

I borrowed the 116 Brand Values list from Microcopy: The Complete Guide and pulled out the following relevant values.

Aesthetics, Fun, Excellence, Creativity, Simplicity, Connection, Customer focus, Dedication, Passion, Contemporary, Discovery, Diversity/variety, Imagination, Originality, Satisfaction, Quality, Commitment

Then, I interviewed the founder to get a sense of which ones he felt the best about. Once we finalized 5 core brand values, I put together copy that explained them in depth.

Brand Personality

Next, I went through a series of exercises with the founder to pinpoint Baola's personality, including specific defining characteristics. I wanted to map out who Baola would be in real life, what they say or do, how they look, and what they're passionate about.

Who They Are

“être bien dans ses baskets” (to feel good in one's skin)

  • Casual chic
  • Dynamic
  • Effortlessly cool
  • Laid back individuality
  • Purposeful actions

How They Look

  • Demographics: M/F, 30s-40s, educated, (sub)urban, iPhone users
  • Style profile: Subtle yet sophisticated, modern
  • Wardrobe: Not too stuffy or businesslike; comfy, but tasteful and good quality

Why They Live

  • To experience life and what it has to offer
  • To express who they are and their individualism
  • To be like a gastronomy chef, enjoying creation, innovation, and quality

I made versions of Baola (as a person) using illustrations.


Analyzing the Audience

User Insights

Based on the founder's former customer base and website statistics, I learned what a typical user profile might look like.

  • Age: Usually at least 30 years old to 50 years old
  • Gender: 60-70% female
  • Socioeconomic status: People with steady careers or disposable income who can afford the comparatively premium price
  • Profession: Interior design, graphic design, marketing, bulk orders from art/design or other companies
  • Location: Worldwide, but mostly big cities in the US, Europe (Switzerland), or UK, with much less interest from Asia

Voice/Tone Guide

Voice Characteristics

By considering both the brand personality and the target user, I crafted four core voice characteristics for Baola.

  • Laid back with just enough professionalism
  • Modern and sophisticated, but genuine
  • Imaginative and inspiring
  • Positive and purposeful

Click the rows below to read more about each characteristic.


Content Style Guide

Putting it all together

⭐ In the video below, I review this finalized Content Style Guide (Notion). 


Content Design

Reimagining the existing website

Website Mockup Goals & Strategy

Full mockups (Whimsical)
Content Inventory (with all before/after copy)

Ultimately, my goals while redoing the website included:

  • Improving usability and visual hierarchy
  • Editing or rewriting all text and microcopy
  • Making sure all content adheres to the style guide

The biggest changes I made were:

  • Defining product benefits, adding social proof, and changing the hero section of the landing page
  • Changing the Our Story page into About Us, with a mission statement, origin story, and brand values
  • Adding a section for product features, "what's inside" (what each purchase includes), and customer reviews to the product page
  • Creating a new Size Guide pop up for the product page, so that users don't get confused about which size to buy
  • Making better use of font size, color, and product photos
  • Incorporating clear headers and subheaders with better copy
  • Adding CTAs throughout the website, where there was just text

Click the + below to zoom in, then drag your mouse to move around.


Using Format