Building a successful brand identity is no different than baking a delicious dessert, planning an adventurous trip, or even flipping a house. I know you’re thinking, “How can you possibly compare?” But stay with me for this HGTV-inspired analogy.

I’m an Account Director, having worked in branding the majority of my career, and design has been a passion of mine as long as I can remember. One does not have to be a creative or a designer to have an eye for it. When I’m not wearing my Siegel+Gale hat, my husband and I like to renovate and flip houses for fun. Yes, I said fun. It’s yet another story of millennials turning their hobby into a side gig. It only took me a project or two before I realized renovating a house was the same process as rethinking a brand identity.

Think of me, your Account Director, as the General Contractor. I’m here to help you build your brand or house from start to finish, bringing your vision to life. I bring in the necessary experts when needed, manage your budget and timeline, all while keeping you in the loop as your trusted point of contact for integrating your design and brand building.

Much like architects, strategists map out the blueprints for your brand. Establishing your brand’s purpose, promise, values, personality and voice helps set a strong foundation. You need a good foundation for the house to stand strong. Plus, like architects, strategists follow the project long after their job is done to make sure everything stays according to plan.

We then pull in our specialists. Building the brand, much like building a house, requires many different experts to come together. When building a house, we call in sub-contractors to frame out the house, wire electricity, float sheetrock, install flooring and tile, and so much more. You’d never want your tiler replacing the plumbing, would you? That’s why we have so many experts on our team—from naming and brand communication to experience and brand-led change working together to build the strongest brand for you.

While each part of design and brand building is equally as important, most people (including myself) find the design process especially fun. It’s not just about making things pretty, though. It’s about being beautiful and functional. In construction, many call on design consultants or interior designers to help with this component. At Siegel+Gale, we have the design team. Both use the same process—start with a kickoff to understand your vision, develop mood boards to begin refining the direction, then explore what the brand’s visual identity can really look like, down to specific colors, typographies, imagery and more. When I’m wearing my design-consultant hat, I use this process to help clients see the big picture and not get overwhelmed when deciding on the smaller details. The end result is a well-thought-out design that is both beautiful and functional.

What about research? I like to think of our analytics + insights team as the home inspectors. You can get a project inspected before, during, or after, based on your goals for the inspection. The purpose is to tell you the value of the property—making sure you’re investing wisely. Same goes for brand research. It can help lay the foundation for branding decisions, giving you the facts needed to make an informed decision when developing or refreshing your brand.

Once a house renovation is complete, it’s fun to live in that newly designed space. Same goes for your company—you get to live and breathe that new or refreshed brand. As I mentioned above, it only took me a project or two to realize the skills my day job as a brand manager have taught me can be easily transferred to overseeing a home design and renovation. Once I experienced that “ah-ha” moment, Nick and I tweaked our process to be even more valuable to our clients, helping them to see the big picture and not get overwhelmed by the process and details, just like we do here at Siegel+Gale.

I hope you enjoyed this small insight into how I organize projects. Design, no matter how it’s packaged up, inspires, motivates and energizes me. Seeing the small details play into the larger big picture, adding unique beauty and function to whatever I’m working on in that moment, is what makes this career (and hobby-turned-side gig) so fun for me. My hope is that I can make this Earth (or at least brands and homes) a more creative and functional place.


Samantha Starr-Shields is Account Director, Account Management