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Case Study

Capturing Reality: Cedarleaf VFX's Path to Brand Recognition

Industry
Film & TV Production
Company Size
1-10
Markets
United States

Context

Cedarleaf VFX is a 3D-reality-capture company specializing in creating highly detailed 3D models using Lidar technology. Lidar scanners, resembling advanced surveying lasers, capture millions of points in all directions to create realistic models of real-world environments. Cedarleaf VFX leverages this technology to assist the film and visual effects industries in streamlining their special effects pipelines during movie production. They provide digital scans of sets, props, actors, and even entire city sections, such as New York City for "Walter Mitty" or the Las Vegas Strip for Netflix's "Army of the Dead."

When I was approached by Cedarleaf VFX, they were in the process of rebranding from Skybucket to a more targeted and fitting name. Their website was incomplete, lacking cohesion and organization, and required significant rebranding. The current online presence failed to effectively convey the company's services and value.

In addition to a new brand name, Cedarleaf VFX needed assistance in organizing their go-to-market strategy, lead generation flow, and overall marketing efforts. The owner and chief stakeholder desired flexibility in the name and brand to explore other markets without the need for extensive rebranding or diluting the current strategy.

Approach & Strategy

Brand Name & Graphic Identity

The first crucial step was to address the brand name. I strongly believed that incorporating the owner's name, Scott Cedarleaf, would make it remarkably memorable, especially with its Scandinavian origins. Scott, who had a diverse background beyond the VFX industry, initially established Skybucket (the predecessor of Cedarleaf) to create 3D models for various sectors such as shipping, housing, construction, and architecture. To fulfill the owner's request for a flexible brand that could accommodate future expansion, we decided on the name "Cedarleaf" as the core, with additional variations like "VFX" for visual effects, "AEC" for architectural, engineering, and construction, and "Aerial" for drone-based aerial surveying. This resulted in the primary brand name: Cedarleaf VFX.

The Cedarleaf VFX logo set over a gradient mapped point-cloud image below.

Content Strategy

The VFX industry, much like the typical B2B market, relies heavily on reputation and word-of-mouth marketing. In this industry, websites and collaterals primarily serve as validation tools rather than discovery platforms. People often hear about Cedarleaf VFX through on-set or online references, and then visit the website to confirm and gather more information. Consequently, we developed a content strategy that aimed to provide additional details about various productions, addressing key questions from prospective clients.

My strategy had two main objectives: creating a validating website that could serve as a point of reference, and developing content in the form of case studies and webpages to effectively communicate the intricacies of the industry and the value delivered by Cedarleaf VFX.

Case Studies

As mentioned earlier, Cedarleaf VFX has an extensive portfolio of diverse projects spanning over the past 15 years. These projects range from utilizing commercial fixed-wing drones to capture aerial scans of vast desert landscapes for assisting housing developers in planning new neighborhoods, to conducting detailed scans of entire ships while sailing with merchant vessels. Scott's experience in the field is vast, and the value and effort put into these projects are significant. However, the details and insights from these projects were not easily accessible.

To address this, we developed a standardized structure for case studies, which includes defining the context and problem, outlining the approach taken, and presenting the solution and results. This standardized structure made it easier to write case studies while the details were fresh, whether it was at the end of a long day in a hotel or on-set using a phone. Additionally, this structure facilitated easier digestion and comparison of the case studies for prospective customers. Most importantly, it brought consistency and structure, which are valuable assets to any potential customer.

By creating a series of case studies, we designed them to be "soft-gated," meaning that some of the content is publicly accessible but requires an email to access the full details. These case studies serve as effective lead-generation tools that exist in two formats: as semi-gated webpages and print-friendly PDFs that can be easily emailed to interested parties.

Various screenshots showing the Cedarleaf VFX website.

Website

The new Cedarleaf VFX website serves as a platform for prospective clients to validate the company's word-of-mouth reputation, which is essential in the film production and special effects community. The website's structure is designed to expose visitors to a wide variety of content, keeping them engaged by providing related content across multiple pages rather than just the homepage. This user journey often involves exploring key pages such as Productions, which showcases the extensive list of TV shows, movies, and documentaries that Cedarleaf VFX has contributed to. Other important pages include Services, where visitors can learn more about the company's offerings, and Process + Capture, which provides technical information about the capture, processing, and output processes available. Each of these pages caters to different but complementary aspects of Cedarleaf VFX's services.

The website's design reflects the brand's identity, incorporating visual elements from both the film and construction industries. The site utilizes a "dark mode" aesthetic to mimic the low-light environments often found on set, with bright highlights accentuating critical objects. Furthermore, the company's impressive 3D work is prominently displayed throughout the site, appearing as floating point-clouds or subtle background graphics that enhance the visibility of the foreground text and content.

Built on Webflow, the Cedarleaf VFX website enables fast and relatively simple development of new pages and features. Importantly, the platform empowers key stakeholders at Cedarleaf VFX to easily edit content and upload new Productions, Blog Posts, and Case Studies.

Diagram Illustrating typical data-flows related to Cedarleaf VFX's services.

Results

Testimonial

What set George apart was his ability to ask the right questions and deliver exceptional results. He has a knack for cutting through all the unnecessary details, enabling me to focus on defining and expressing what Cedarleaf VFX truly represented as a company. Working with him made it effortless for me to collaborate with BrandZap and accomplish what others couldn't achieve.

Scott Cedarleaf
CEO

The results were remarkable: within a few months, Cedarleaf VFX started experiencing the positive impacts of their new brand and web presence. Scott began receiving new leads via email, many of whom mentioned the website and referenced a production they had worked on. The Contact Us page on the website also started generating leads, leading to notable clients such as Netflix and HBO.

What is even more significant is that after being in the market for over three years, the Cedarleaf VFX brand has gained substantial recognition within the industry appearing in credits and as features on “making of” style documentaries.

The rebranding efforts and cohesive brand identity of Cedarleaf VFX significantly improved industry recognition and led to increased leads and valuable client partnerships. The inclusion of case studies on the website effectively showcased Cedarleaf VFX's expertise and generated leads. The user-friendly website design, featuring key pages like Productions, Services, and Process + Capture, effectively communicated the company's offerings and engaged visitors. The use of the Webflow platform allowed for easy content management and continuous updates, keeping the website fresh and relevant. Overall, the successful rebranding, content strategy, and website redesign positioned Cedarleaf VFX as a reputable and industry-leading 3D-capture company, resulting in growth and success.

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