“Sometimes in order to think big, you have to think small.” -Floop, Spy Kids

What’s a “Skillshare”?

Here at ISL, we invent digital experiences for big brands every day (cc Capital One, VW, NBCUniversal, etc). But sometimes, we like to think small.

During our weekly internal Community Engagement Committee meeting, we came up with the idea of hosting a free, community-driven marketing boot camp aimed at helping local businesses build out their brand. Before we knew it, ISL Skillshares was born!

ISL Skillshares is a collaboration between our designers, developers, and strategists to bring the best tips and tricks that we use every day to the small business owners and budding entrepreneurs in our own neighborhood.

The marketing boot camp consisted of 4 deep-dives (branding, web development, social media and paid media) to give business owners a holistic overview of creating and applying a brand in the digital space. The sessions were held over the course of 4 weeks, recurring every Tuesday evening. We jam-packed each talk (the average attendance per session was 50) with insightful tips, handouts, and resources for continued learning even after you left. Oh, and there were also free refreshments courtesy of our fantastic partners Cava, Republic Kolache, Rito Loco, and &pizza!


Branding: Big Benefits for Small Businesses

Strategic branding can have big benefits for small businesses. It serves as an instrument to communicate your core business and your values with the world. A strategically defined brand that connects to your potential customers can help build loyalty, advocacy and good business. Small businesses can always learn from the lessons of big brands such as Apple or Dunkin’ Donuts on the benefits of unique and consistent brand identity.

So, how can small businesses take their brands to the next level?


1) Build Your Brand

A brand is not just a logo, but rather a set of cohesive elements that communicate to the world who you are and what you stand for. Our UX Lead Paul Best (seen in the Tweet above) walked business owners through the entire spectrum, helping them consider logo configurations, color palette, typography, photography, iconography, and applications of your brand.

Check out the deck from the presentation:

2) Develop Your Web Presence

In the digital age, it is crucial for businesses to establish a strong web presence – one that is accessible, informative, and extends your brand. Web Developers Lee-Anne Clarke and yours truly, as well as Interactive Designer Jen Doyle helped business owners identify their website goals and establish information architecture, content layout, and more. We covered core web design principles, locking down a domain name, hosting, and finding the right Content Management Systems for their needs.

Check out the deck from the presentation:

3) Master Social Media

With so many platforms to choose from, how do you know where to start? Or which one is best for your content? Content Strategists Kim Stockley and Lauren Zoltick uncovered the who, what, where, when, and why of your small business social media strategy. Business owners left with an understanding of social media best practices including how to understand audience, develop a brand voice, and maximize content reach.

Check out the deck from the presentation:

4) Optimize for Success

You’ve created your brand, developed your web presence, and mastered social, but how do you know if you’re on track? For all you data nerds out there, paid media is the nectar of the gods. In this session, Analytics Strategist Julia Schroeder explained how to quantify your business marketing efforts by implementing trackable advertising strategies. Business owners learned how to develop a paid campaign and establish KPI’s for tracking success.

Check out the deck from the presentation:

Want More?

Missed our first ISL Skillshares series? Be on the lookout this Fall for our next boot camp!

Want to partner together on our next community event? Tweet at me @juliebaconator or send an email at julie@isl.co.