December 3, 2009Branding yourself

So, after nearly six months, over 16,000 unique visitors and a fair few new clients, I decided to change the look of the site a little. Again, my friend Spencer at, who designed the site, was responsible for the new shoot.

There were a couple of reasons for the change. Mostly, if I’m honest with you, it’s because I’ve noticed that while clients seem to prefer the image of the chain-smoking, three-day-stubble sporting writer on the page, when you show up at a 9am meeting looking like you’ve been on a week long bender and reach for your already depleted pack of Camels, they get a bit annoyed. So my new photos look a lot more like the way I look in real life — during working hours, at least.

This is what the old home page looks like:

Alastaire Allday original homepage design

and here is the new one:


I’m a big fan of the amazing Mad Men, the best TV show about advertising, ever. There’s some quite interesting anecdotal evidence about how “the Sterling Cooper effect” is changing people’s perceptions of how a creative should look and act. So I decided to suit up. But I lost the cigarette. They may want you to look sharp, but smoking in front of clients is no more acceptable than asking them if they’d like to split a pint of scotch (I haven’t actually tried this — I’m just guessing).

I also listened to my own advice and simplified my copy. Statistically, I have a bounce rate of about 36% — meaning that I lose a third of my readers after the first page. This is actually a slightly better than average statistic. Count how often you close a website down after viewing just one page. I bet it’s more than you thought.

The point is, I’ve pretty much only got one page to tell every visitor to my site who I am and what I do.

That’s how the web works —
You have to sell yourself in a second. Two seconds is too late.

Personally, I think both ideas are great. And they’re both definitely “me” — but they also project a different image.

So far, the feedback I’ve had has been positive. And prospective client enquires seem to be on the up. But I’m interested in what everyone else thinks. I’ve explained my reasons for the re-brand.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, December 3rd, 2009 at 4:35 am and is filed under Blog, Branding, Me and my business, Site Updates. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1. ok says:

    Why so many pictures of you? What value does this bring to your site’s visitors?

  2. Adrian says:

    I like it a lot man, the first few pages are killer and really make me want to read every single word on your website. Perception is reality, and the new photos of you in a suit (especially the 2nd one where you are leaning against a table) compliment the copy really really well. Next time I am at a loss for words, I know who to get in touch with.

    – Adrian

  3. al says:

    thanks for the comments =)

    @ ok – as i’m a “one man band” (I don’t like the phrase… its a cliche, but I’m a freelancer, an independent) it’s important to get across to my clients that they’re buying “me”

    The web can be very impersonal and I’d say I only ever get to meet 50% of my clients face-to-face.

    If I didn’t use a picture of myself, what would I use? A laptop? a typewriter? How cliche is that?

    This website is designed to sell me. I’m the product. Hence the pictures!


  4. Manal Assaad says:

    I think it’s superb, simple, and clean. That’s just what you need to drive focus to your words, which is what every copy writer needs to achieve.
    And I do agree that posting your photos is a good idea. You’d want to make the website more personal and “social” which is becoming the trend. No one wants to see a photo of the laptop you use, or your office (unless it looks so stunning that you want to brag about it), they want to see “you” and the form a perception of you. That’s why the photos you display should be an accurate depiction of your true self.
    I also believe that putting clear photos of yourself will drive clients to meet you face-to-face (it has nothing to do with how good you look), because most people would get nervous about meeting someone without having a clue of what to expect.
    All in all, I’m really impressed with the site. You accomplished what you sought!

  5. Carlos Chiari says:

    I think that your new image is fine, with a strong rationale behind it. But for me it is your copy – the confidence you put in yourself, and the promise of results – the one that does the job.

    If I had the money, or a customer willing to pay professional copy for their website, I would hire you without hesitation, at least to give you a try!

  6. I love it.
    I love the website.
    I love the way you ‘brand’ yourself.

    I think you’re a god.
    In fact, if I was an evil-genius-mastermind-professor, I would create the ultimate-mindtransfer-machine, and use it on you (and myself duh..), so we’d switch places.

    Then I could rule the interwebs with a great looking website like yours and totally dominate everyone with awesome copy and smashing headlines.

    Offcourse that would leave you as me, meaning a totally kick-ass evil mastermind, and god knows what you would do to me in return.

    Maybe it’s better if I just draw some more cartoons …

    (Serious note: The new pictures are much better. But your hairstyle in the old picture is way cooler.)

  7. al says:

    Thanks for the notes =)

    I’ll be sure to bring this to my hair stylist’s attention when I next see her. She’s lovely. I think she thinks I’m slightly odd. But she has good taste in music; any girl who likes High Contrast’s remix of Hometown Glory has to be a keeper.

    I’ve had this cut a good six months now, so maybe it is time for a change. Any suggestions, folks?

  8. Reid Klos says:

    I’m glad you didn’t totally get rid of the chain smoker image. it just gives your site a little edge, and it quickly made me aware that i was dealing with a guy that has “been around the block.” The new pics put your best foot forward, totally. to me you look like two entirely different people. Maybe i liked the contrast of your three day stubble with the freshness of the site.
    I’m glad that you kept the overall clean, classic look of the site, though. So, many sites do a total overhaul and when you visit you wonder if you’re on the right site. keep up the good work, bro.
    oh and go back to the bed head look, so you aren’t so polished.

  9. Sean says:

    I found your site because you were featured here:

    They actually show a screenshot of your old site. I like the new one better — but what drew me in the first place is the striking b/w photography.

    That said, what kept me here studying what you say (so I can learn from it when I redo my own site) is what you say.

    Very well done.

  10. Agustín Cáceres says:


    Simple outstanding. Keep working with your friend Spencer, he seems to know what he is doing!

    Regarding the haircut… the former one was way cooler.

    The older pictures reflected a more creative look… more ¨marketing agency¨ feel.

    The new ones reflect a more professional look…. like a ¨brand manager¨ feel…. What did you want to transmit with your blackberry? I would have used a pen…. or maybe a MAC… I don´t know… ;-)

    I think both set of pictures are right… the ¨magic¨ is in your words….. you seem to have a gift playing with them. Keep up the great work!!!

    From Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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