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Vitalian | Design Systems and the Beverages that Keep Us Running

Vitalian April 2021

Vital Creative Director, Jesse Rand, Explains Why Today’s Brands Need a Design System

Trying to digitally market your brand without a design system is like trying to walk a 300-pound gorilla without a leash. It’s bad for you, it’s bad for the gorilla, and if you’re not careful, you’ll wind up lost in the jungle with no idea how to get home.

What the Heck is a Design System?

If you haven’t heard of a design system, you’re not alone. It’s an emerging discipline that traces its roots back to traditional brand style guidelines — you know, those documents that define how your brand looks, feels, and sounds, with rules that cover everything from logo usage to whether or not you use the Oxford comma. The big difference is that a design system is built to keep you consistent and effective in today’s digital branding landscape. You need a design system for a successful online presence, because it defines your brand’s rules for action colors, interactions, and other elements of your user experience.

What Goes into a Good Design System?

Like a style guide, a design system pulls together the assets and components your brand uses in all its products and communications, updated for the digital age. These assets and components cover everything from your UI language to your design patterns and your UX guidelines. But more important than what you include is how it gets used. A truly effective design system defines the purpose of each asset, as well as how and when it gets used. At Vital, we create design systems for our clients that cover everything in a complete style guide, plus the brand’s colors, typography, iconography, layouts, interactive components, and motion for all digital products.

What’s in it for You?

Put simply, a design system allows your brand to operate consistently, effectively, and scalably over time across all digital channels. While there’s some up-front investment involved in creating a design system, it can save time and money in the long run by allowing your digital marketing team to create the online products you need, without reinventing the wheel — and with the assurance that your audience is getting a reliable, unified digital brand experience each and every time. In other words, you’ll be able to lead that gorilla wherever you want it to go, and you’ll always have a roadmap to guide you.

Learn more about design systems in this deep-dive: A Comprehensive Guide to Design Systems.

Which Vital employee has been to a total of eight (count ’em — 8!) Olympic Games?

(Scroll to the bottom to reveal the answer)

We’re really proud of these websites. And we hope you are, too.

American Modular Systems

One of the country’s largest modular manufacturers came to Vital with two separate, outdated, and underperforming websites. We helped them determine that they needed one unified mega site to define their brand, improve SEO, and guide their buyers through the sales journey. Along the way, we identified an opportunity to capitalize on the company’s eye-catching aesthetic to tell a visual story through striking photography and video. An easy-to-update portfolio and interactive product pages give users an intuitive, enjoyable way to “window shop” building options. And it’s all designed to support robust, ongoing digital marketing strategies that continue to drive traffic to the site.

[Check it out]

GuidePoint Security Landing Page

This month Vital helped GuidePoint Security roll out a new flagship service offering aptly titled GPVUE, which takes their complex cybersecurity solutions and combines them with a dedicated program manager. We worked closely with their marketing team to bring this new product to life with an interactive landing page, branded product logo, and explainer video. Built on top of the freshly rolled-out brand we developed together this past year, we are excited to see GuidePoint expand their offerings and visual brand as we move into the future together.

[Check it out]

Vital Weekday Poll

At Vital, our creative services and digital marketing engines run on caffeine. With spring here, we’re enjoying longer days with more sunlight and warmth. But it’s not time to put away those winter coats just yet. What’s a coffee lover to do? Drink the hot stuff, or go with an iced cold brew? We asked around the office, and the results are in!

There’s never a dull moment in the Vital offices. Here are a few highlights.

Moving Up
Three cheers to these Vitalians for their recent promotions:

Greer Lemnah, Manager of Content Services

Marissa Comeau, Manager of Content Strategy

Hanging Tight
February and March were big months for Vitalversaries. We celebrated milestones with:

Adam Walter, Director of Development (8 years)

Lauren Reilly, Director of Accounts (7 years)

Matt Chase, Director of Front-End Development (5 years)

Josh Duffy, Video Content Specialist (4 years)

Marissa Comeau, Manager of Content Strategy (3 years)

Getting Started
We’re happy to welcome these new Vitalians to the team!

Rylee Leonard, Writing Intern/Coordinator

Garrett Day, Graphic Designer

Melissa Lore, Senior Content Strategist

Keith Cormier, Senior Content Strategist

Learn more about these fine folks and the rest of the Vital team.

For those who’ve been with Vital through the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have forgotten what some of us look like below the eyes. Keep scrolling to reveal the faces behind these masks.






Our clients are killing it these days. Here are a few ways we’re helping them on their way.

Link Building
Vital has been exploring business directory link building for our clients, and we recently struck gold with the directory site The site is easy to use and provides a full profile for our clients. Most importantly, their profiles allow us to place multiple follow backlinks, which is a huge win.

Our goal with directory link building is to have a list of multiple directories that make it easy to get clients listed once they allocate link building hours. Business directories like Yelp, the Better Business Bureau, Foursquare, etc. are instrumental in elevating our clients’ web presence. Each directory listing they have is a new place where they can be discovered! More importantly, the search engines see you as a more viable business when they see that other high-domain-authority sites are linking to you.

Check out our clients’ listings on Hotfrog:

Now that you’ve seen it in action, if you’re one of our more DIY clients, why don’t you try it yourself? We’d love to hear how it works for you.

Paid Digital Media
It’s happened to everyone: You type something into Google and the next thing you know you’re seeing ads for it all over the place. Unlike retargeting, you’ve never even visited the site. Well, that’s called targeting “custom intent audiences,” and it’s scary effective for lead generation and conversion. How effective? Let’s say you owned all the ad space for the search term “giant stuffed giraffe.” You’d be lucky to get 20% of the people searching for a giant stuffed giraffe to actually click the button to visit your site. More typically, you’d split that 20% with other vendors, and capture only 5% of searchers. Custom intent audiences allow you to target the 80-95% of searchers who never clicked on your ad or visited your site to begin with. This is a huge part of why Vital client Spiggle Law, an employment law firm, has seen a 55% increase in leads month over month — and a whopping 277% increase in sales-ready leads month over month! All from one YouTube ad served to a custom intent audience. Check out the ad here.

Lights, Camera, Action. 
Vital clients are ready for their closeup.

Take-Home Video Gear for Clients

With COVID-19 still making headlines, several clients have requested their own video gear kits for in-house projects. Vital strategizes with them about the type of content they want, then specifies custom video kits based on their goals and budgets. With the rising need to do more video and the expense of hiring professionals to follow you around the world, shooting video in-house can be a big savings. Vital can still provide remote video direction, editing, titles, graphics, and branding for the final products.

Josh Duffy, Vital’s Video Content Specialist, has put together some tips for key items that belong in any video kit. His most important tip? Lights.

Says Josh: “A good lighting setup can make up for a bad camera. A good camera cannot make up for bad lighting, and it often destroys the crisp image you would have gotten with your $10k+ camera. Invest in powerful lights that can be used for more than a Zoom call ring light.”

Growing Clients’ YouTube Presence

With video conferencing and remote work exploding across most industries, our clients are seeing a need for a stronger video presence, including standout YouTube channels. We created a YouTube Channel Trailer for client GuidePoint Security to help them get their audience in the front door.

[Watch the Trailer]

Merchants Fleet’s On-Trend Recruitment Video

It’s a brave new world out there in talent recruitment and retention. The COVID-19 pandemic showed some traditional, face-to-face HR hiring practices the door, replacing them with virtual or online strategies. Even as the impact of the pandemic winds down, remote work remains a huge force in the jobs market, and recruiters face tough competition for a talent pool that is no longer limited by geographical area. Vital produced a recruitment video for our client, Merchants Fleet, which highlights the company’s unique culture, robust professional development opportunities, involvement in the community, and more. The result is an upbeat, tap-your-toes watch-along that’s sure to keep their HR department nice and busy. Add text to your email.

[Watch the Video]

Vital Weekend Poll
All work and no play… well, you know how that turns out. Coffee does the trick Monday through Friday, but when the weekend rolls around, it’s time to let down our hair and break out the cocktail shakers. Check out what Vitalians are enjoying with their Sunday brunch.

Here they are, smiles included! 

Jackie Grinnell
Sarah Tyrell






Ryan Kelley
Melissa Lore



We hope you’re as excited as we are about all the great stuff going on at Vital. If you want to chat about any of the services highlighted here — or just say hi! — simply reply to this email, or click the orange button below.

[Get in Touch]


Vital Project Manager Kate Gunts went to her first Olympics when she was only 6 years old (Atlanta 1996), and she’s been to a total of eight: Atlanta, Sydney 2000, Salt Lake City 2002, Torino 2006, Beijing 2008, London 2012, Sochi 2014, and Rio 2016. Her favorite events are swimming in the summer and snowboard cross in the winter — but she’ll never say no to a good badminton match.

a graphic for Vital's ebook "15 questions to ask before you redesign your website"

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