How SEO TWIST Maintained Strong Brand Identity and Design Messaging with the International Pilot Academy
There’s something inspiring about flight. People have always been fascinated and enamored with flying, as evidenced by the number of hobby pilots and those who make a living flying as commercial pilots. Becoming a pilot and flying a plane is a dream that many want to make a reality. Enter the International Pilot Academy. The International Pilot Academy (IPA) is a Gatineau-based flight school that wants to make these dreams come true. Owned and operated by Jules Selwan, IPA established a reputation as a leading Canadian pilot training school, all in a remarkably short time since opening its doors in 2011. In October of 2017, IPA approached SEO TWIST and gave us a mandate to update and revamp their website with a new SEO setup and architecture to promote classes and a new college-recognized course offered in conjunction with Cégep Heritage College. While we were excited by IPA’s enthusiasm and availability, we realized early on the challenge would be delivering an exceptional finished product that was more than just a website for a business. While we had to appeal to the broader market of budding pilots, the site needed to appeal equally to hobbyists and professionals-in-training, all while reflecting IPA’s core identity and highlighting their partnership with the College. We set about creating a compelling design alongside uniquely informative messaging to appeal to these key demographics. At SEO TWIST, we immerse ourselves in a market’s culture to understand how customers think, what they need, and how your brand makes them feel. It’s part of a data-informed approach to demographics and market research, ensuring key strategies are backed by pertinent data. And while that data is vital for determining keywords and SEO on a detailed level, it’s still just one piece of the puzzle.
Design that Reflects and Inspires Passion
Before work begins on any aspect of a project, we sit down and speak with the client to get a better sense of their organization’s identity. Who the organization is just as important as what they do and who their audience is, after all. Our design lead for IPA, Tina, already had some keen insight into the world of flight and aviation: her boyfriend is a pilot and flight instructor, and she’s spent plenty of time in the air as a result. Right away, Tina had an idea of what would work and what wouldn’t. IPA’s approach stood out in her eyes: become a pilot on your own terms. There are countless flight schools across Canada and the globe, so why would international students from Cégep Heritage College choose that program and IPA in particular? The answer: the agency and empowerment they felt taking their education into their own hands. This message had to be communicated throughout the site. Icons and imagery are important. Tina had an idea that icons and layouts on the site had to be primarily visual. After all, pilots rely on their eyes and clear indicators to assess information at a glance. The site’s refined and straightforward style used these images to grab the eye on the page. Simultaneously, any visual identity had to retain relevance for hobby pilots and professionals-in-training alike. Instead of grand images of massive Boeing airliners, we opted for something a bit more familiar. In-cockpit views and the human element gave users a quick reference point for something they themselves had done or would be doing. That familiarity breeds trust and promotes a positive user experience. And, of course, we had to get a few airliners in there for the wow factor.
Words on a Wing
The majority of the website redesign and creation projects SEO TWIST handles include a research-informed SEO set up. This means fresh, original content to ensure optimization; content is a package to deliver SEO, after all. A brand must speak to its target market. There’s a fine balance between a client’s needs and the needs of their customers. At the end of the day, the client wants results and a site that reflects their needs. However, the true purpose of design and content is to communicate with the user and provide a meaningful user experience. The content team approached the redesign of IPA with an almost blank slate. The project warranted considerable research and detail, but the challenge came in presenting it effectively. Essentially, all users visiting the site are students. They’re here to learn, whether they’re just starting out or they’re coming back for their final lessons. We presented the information cleanly and clearly, avoiding overly long stretches of content in favor of quick, evocative images and ideas that left an impression: “Have you dreamt of a career as a commercial pilot? Earning your Commercial License lets you make a living doing what you love.” Content thus strove to match the clean, evocative images and graphics created by the design team.
The inclusion of Cégep Heritage College’s partner program for Private and Commercial Flight Training meant we had to ensure that the site’s visual identity reflected the College’s branding considerations. We included their logo, and also worked to ensure that their identity remained consistent without compromising IPA’s approach and focus. While IPA’s focus was very much about taking charge of your education and piloting your career with your passions, the College was promoting a program that gave students the foundation they needed to make their career ambitions a reality. While not exactly alike, the two approaches are congruent and complimentary. Both give students a tremendous sense of control and capability, providing them the means to make their dreams come true. Design and user experience reflect this key message.
Website design affects a user’s feelings, emotions, and attitude. Seen any websites with Commodore 64-level quality design? Hopefully, the answer is a resounding “no” but if you have, then ask yourself, how did it make you feel? You probably felt uninspired, skeptical, or flat-out bored. Ultimately, design is a significant factor in visitors deciding whether they stay on your site and act or leave. Design should be clean, professional, and up-to-date on best practices; it should promote branding and brand equity, maintain a consistent style and theme, and finally, remain congruent with your message. Don’t clutter pages with unnecessary designs, text, or imagery. It can overwhelm users. Our design experts know how to reach your target demographic through the look and feel of your website. It’s their passion to know what looks good all the while understanding your target market, their needs, and how to reach them through design. From the top of the hill down to the finish line, the entire design process is exhilarating for our team.