Challenging the aesthetic of your industry with James, from The White Tree

The White Tree Branding
The White Tree Branding
The White Tree Branding

Eager to challenge the current wedding aesthetics and stereotypes, director of The White Tree, James, approached us to recreate their branding in a way that would shake up the industry and accurately capture the brand’s true character and reflect its core values and style. We had the pleasure of refreshing their branding, website design, brand bible, stationery, and multiple other touch points to better align with their chic rebellious spirit.

We spoke to James about the current state of the wedding industry, the power of branding and the importance of differentiating your brand in a populated market space. Plus, want the ultimate playlist to get everyone out of their chairs and onto the dance floor? James has got us sorted.

Let’s dive straight in, shall we?

We’ll start with something fun. Working in the wedding industry, you must hear a lot of cheesy marital advice. What’s you’re favourite ‘loved up’ line you continually hear?

We do hear it all the time, but I like the one where couples acknowledge that they’re marrying their lover AND their best mate.

Give us some of your best ingredients for an epic event.

Work as strategically as you can to cut boring people from the guest list.  Keep speeches short and punchy. Think about the lighting…it’s amazing how badly some venues are lit.  If that means you need to bring in additional lighting to nail the vibe, then do it! It can honestly change the whole mood and feeling of the space and your guests.  What else?… Hmm, pick delicious food that is light on the carbs; you don’t want people feeling bloated or sleepy. You want them feeling fit and charged so they’re ready to rock out hard to The White Tree band in all their sweaty glory.  An array of drinks. Have your beers and wines, but mix it up with some an array of interesting and colourful cocktails.

What’s your go-to playlist to get everyone out of their chairs and onto the dance floor?

Ok so I knocked this playlist together quickly…this is essentially some of the tunes we play with The White Tree Band that guarantee critical mass on the D-floor.

Note: the mix of upbeat tunes, moving into more upbeat tunes, some 90s…and then to finish it off, a smattering of drunk-bogan sing-a-longs. Enjoy.

Okay, we should probably ask some more serious questions now. How did The White Tree come into fruition?

It literally started when myself and a mate from high school decided to combine our professions and passions. I’m a drummer and had been working in the music industry for a decade…and he was a photography and filmmaker.  It seemed like an interesting prospect to combine the three. It worked well very quickly, and over the past 10 years, we’ve just kept growing and expanding from city to city, networking and recruiting some of the countries best creatives across these three mediums.

At what point, did you decide you needed a rebrand?

To be honest, it was actually when Nick (my former business partner) went on to run our production company (Tree House Studios) and I continued on with The White Tree by myself. Nick was also a great graphic designer so we managed to keep a lot of our branding in-house. But, once he left and I upped the goals and objectives for The White Tree, that’s when I realised we really had to engage an external company who are experts in the field.

How important did you believe it was to invest in a new brand identity?

I felt we needed an overhaul. We didn’t just need a logo, colour palette, business cards… we needed a major revamp!  It kinda felt like we put the business under general anaesthetic, and then reeeeeally opened it up, analysing every nook and cranny.

What made you choose an agency like Smack Bang for your project?

The early stage was when we worked on the brand bible with you guys at Smack Bang Designs, which has proven to be one of the most vital tools for us to successfully scale. The brand bible that Tess, Drou and Katie produced is not just a handy framework for our creative-based projects, it’s vital for our entire business happenings.  It helps to guide things such as our tone of voice with client emails, how our musicians need to rock out with energy during the dance sets, how we dress on the gigs, and how we may choose to keep evolving and adopting technologies internally. I am only even talking about phase ONE of the re-brand here, but that gives a quick idea for how branding really can affect high-level business decisions and outcomes.

Being in such a competitive industry, how do you manage to differentiate yourself?

With Smack Bang branding of course!  And our staff. We have some of the most talented, young, energetic and hilarious people who work with us.  They really help to give our business an edge.

Your branding challenges the current aesthetics and stereotypes of the wedding industry, how important was this for your brand?

Yeah, I feel our branding is bold and challenging but it’s got a classic/timeless feel to it as well, which I love.  And yes the wedding industry is rife with stereotypes so it’s good to try to defy them as much as possible and occupy our own space in the market.

What changes within the events space do you predict will effect the nature of events within the next 5 years?

Without getting too political, another big change within the industry surrounds noise issues. The government, councils and residents who often CHOOSE to live next to a pre-existing venue, have paved the way for an ultra-conservative environment that is now relentless when it comes to noise levels.  Heaps of city venues – even country town venues – are being forced to adopt curfews, ban live music, or worse, are actually getting completely shut down! Byron Bay has been hit extremely hard. Our booking manager just lost his venue TWO weeks out from his wedding in Kangaroo Valley because the council closed it down literally overnight.

So, what does this all mean? I think that more and more people who want to rage til midnight will need to find venues in incredibly remote areas – which is obviously a fun option on many levels. My friends actually run an awesome venue site called WedShed which has a great list of properties in this domain. This said, for a bunch of other venues I don’t think there will be a way out, and they’ll soon be pulling up stumps at literally 9/10 pm.  Therefore, the 5hr typical call will be brought forward to a 5 pm – 10 pm, meaning earlier finishes. Then, couples will work on a secondary stage of the wedding night, where the young ones head off to a house, venue or club for a properly organised after-party. I know that Amy from WedShed also predicts this as a big trend for 2019 and beyond. Who knows, it may end up becoming a format that works quite well for all wedding guests, young and old. I mean, I’ve definitely seen a few Uncle Bobs and Granny Judies falling asleep at weddings as the clock strikes 10:15 pm.

Where do you see the wedding industry going in 5 years?

Well, obviously Australia has finally legalised same-sex marriage. This is super exciting for same-sex couples, our growth, and development as an entire country, and then the wedding industry specifically. We’ve done a dozen same-sex weddings with The White Tree now, and they’ve just been incredible; love-filled, emotional, action-packed, and an all-in celebration. So we can’t wait to see many more of these special weddings take place in the future.

I also feel that the vital push for gender equality is changing the way heterosexual grooms approach their wedding planning. There’s been an archaic tradition where many brides are lumped with all the wedding planning, and then the groom just thanks her for doing it all during his speech!  In our opinion, this is mega-uncool (jus’ saying). It’s outdated and totally impractical considering it’s the groom’s wedding too. Fortunately, over the last couple of years, we’ve noticed more and more grooms getting actively involved with all facets of the wedding planning. This is awesome as any great wedding should reflect the style and likes/dislikes of both people.

In celebration of this idea, The White Tree is funding, curating and managing an inaugural national event called “Groom Fest” which is taking place in March and April this year. It’s designed to further inspire and educate the “modern groom”!

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