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The Humble Blog Post Hero IMAGE

Blog Case STudy Image 01.webp


In late 2022 ControlUp rebranded. They had updated their website, but with the exit of the CMO in 2023, much of the other design in the company was at the mercy of the minimal style guide and any past work. A new marketing director was hired and wanted updating to be done regardless of the gap created by the missing CMO.



Having their hands full with the new position, the marketing director asked for some brand guidelines for blog posts, since there were none. They wanted to make sure that the items they were putting out really looked fresh, clear, and were an integral part of the ControlUp brand family.



I was hired as a contract designer shortly after the new marketing director came on board. We shored up some loose ends on the website, and then started in with the blog posts. There were a couple of things we needed to figure out first. What I discovered while formulating and asking these questions didn’t really shock me, and let me know I had my work cut out for me. 

  1. What are the blog posts supposed to accomplish?
    This was easy. It may not have been the answer to 100% of the blogs, but it was to get information out to potential clients and answer questions/concerns of current clients. 

  2. Who is currently writing blog posts?
    There are a bunch of people writing blog posts - anyone in the company who wanted to. Which I think is great, it gets a lot of different perspectives to come through and shows that solutions come in many shapes and forms. But...he director of marketing knew that up until this point, blog posts were somewhat erratic. At the whim of employees who had something to say. He wanted a more regular cadence. He wanted multi-part blogs covering subjects more comprehensively. And he wanted all the blog posts to be easily identified as ControlUp information. He set up a calendar and started approaching departments to write specific blogs on current industry perspectives as well as continuing with topics individuals found interesting. 

  3. Who is currently publishing blog posts?
    There wasn’t a gatekeeper. There wasn’t a copywriter or editor. Someone wrote a blog and then published it. BAM! It’s open to the public. With the new marketing director, those problems could be solved. The marketing director did a lot of the proofing, editing, and SME (subject matter expert) corralling to check validity and usability of the posts’ info. But change is hard and some people simply didn’t want to have a gatekeeper. It happens, so occasionally a post would go out without any of that tidying. We decided that was okay for the foreseeable future. Variety is the spice of life.

  4. What are the different types of blog posts being posted?
    My research also determined that there were 10 or so different types of blogs being written. Some were much more common than others, but we wanted to be as comprehensive as possible. We also realized that there may even be more than 10 as time goes by, so we kept that in mind. But we also didn’t want to make the number of templates overwhelming. We’ll talk about this later.

  5. What is the current blog design?
    We also went back and looked at all the blogs that were currently online (which is about 99%) of everything they’ve ever done. It gave us a good feel for how people were approaching the blog and what we could do to bring more consistency and ControlUpness to them. The actual template for the blog post pages were pretty simple to fix up a bit. There are still battles being fought about the final design and I think it will take a higher power to definitely figure those out. My ability as a contractor can only influence so much.
    We spent a little time redoing the basic layout of blog posts themselves, but the previous CMO and web team had done a pretty good job. A few things needed to be cleaned up, formatted, and re-arranged, but that didn’t take very long at all. Because WordPress was being used, we had templates to help make us more consistent and branded.

  6. How are blog hero images being used?
    The short answer is eye candy. The authors of the posts wanted something flashy that would make the audience pay attention. Also, we needed something to show up when the links to the blog posts were posted to social media.

  7. What is the budget?


The blog hero images are the meat and potatoes of this story. My job for this particular problem was to come up with a template that looks modern, applies to any situation, and has the ControlUp brand front and center.

Just to be clear, the blog hero image is the image that appears at the top of all the blog posts. It’s also the image that appears when you paste the URL of the blog post into LinkedIn, Facebook, or other social media sites.

Case Study - Hero Image.jpg

And here are the categories of blog posts we eventually settled on:

  • “Generic Photography” Blog Posts
    These are blog posts that don’t fall into any of the other categories and will probably make up the majority of the posts. We tried to go mostly with images only (no tagline or title in the actual image), letting striking images speak for itself. Occasionally we’d have a title, but instead of putting on the title (that would be in the supporting text on social), instead, we try to ask a question that worked well with the final title. We’ll come up with a standard placement for all of the elements, but sometimes an image may not cooperate and we (sparingly) have to move the elements around. We always have our logo and tagline on the image. The photography we use should be authentic and not look like it’s photoshopped or composited. Instead, in that case we go more of an illustrative route.

  •  “Partnership” Blog Posts
    We present our partner first (left) on a gradient background. Logos are in white. Logo sizes are visually equal (meaning they may not be the same height or width but look like they both have the same prominence.

  • “Screenshot”, “Dashboard”, or “Charts and Graphs” Blog Posts
    We want to make sure the screenshots and dashboards aren’t completely covered up and don’t get in the way of logo or text.

  • “Product Releases”, “Awards”, “eBooks”, “Case Studies”, “In the Media”, “Company News”, and “Careers” Blog Posts
    A small amount of text with a large impact for something big.

  • “Generic Digital Vector Illustration” Blog Posts
    Same rules as above for the “photography posts.” But the background is always muted grays and purples with small objects having regular colors, people are always wearing ControlUp main three colors, hair is always brand purple. We pick an illustrator that has a lot of images available on the sites we get artwork from and always use that artist so we have visual consistency in our illustrations. We are going to shy away from icons as they don’t give a lot of context as a blog post hero image. Reserve them for the website and inside our digital product.

  • “Specials (1, 2, 3 part series)” Blog Posts
    When there’s a multi-post series.

  • “Quote” Blog Posts
    If it’s from someone in another company, how do we want to deal with the ControlUp logo? 

  • “Podcasts” Blog Posts
    ControlUp has a couple of blog posts, and a few individuals in the company also had their own industry blog posts being published under the ControlUp umbrella. These were so numerous that we had to get too specific with them, but they needed to be branded. 

  • “Videos” Blog Posts
    If the post was only a video, rarely did we create a separate blog post. With today’s technology, posting videos directly into social media is really much more effective. But every once in a while there is a special circumstance and with video becoming much more common, we decided to tackle this now. But the solution was actually quite simple. We simply put the universal “triangle in a circle” play button on top of a still image.

  • “Community” and “Academy” Blog Posts
    There are two departments of ControlUp that also have separate blog posts. The first deals with the people who use the products on a daily basis. The second deals with any learning and education surrounding the product. We had to find a way to include them in the list, but still make sure their sub-brands shone through. 

  • “Press Releases”, “Events”, “One-offs”, and “Special Circumstances” Blog Posts
    These were items that quite frequently havespecial situations or demands that need to be off brand or have a different sort of impact. Press releases are an important part of the company and usually were released as a separate blog post a week after the release made its way into the world. Events usually need to be branded with the event branding, and occasionally there are world event happenings that need a special call out. Wildcards that got determined at the time of need.


So to start things out, the Director of Marketing and myself did a little research. He asked the questions of the c-level employees, and I went out and did on-line research, and reviewed blog posts of a wide variety of companies, both large and small. We both had our opinions on the subject, but wanted to make sure we weren’t off the rails on them. So after a week of noodling on the subject we came up with the following:

  • The logo should be on the hero image. It wasn’t on many of the pieces we saw out in the real world, and we knew that many of the images would be reposted on personal blogs, used in PowerPoint decks, and other places out in the wild. So we wanted to make sure ControlUp was being shown.

  • The tagline. Neither the director nor myself were involved in the tagline chosen. The agency that was working on that was put into motion well before either of us arrived at ControlUp and at this point, with the tagline being completed just a month or so before, throwing our opinions into the mix wouldn’t do anything worthwhile except slow things down. 

  • Branding. We needed each and every blog hero to be branded even above having our logo and tagline in it. For reference, a  very simplistic view of our branding consists of our four colors (Bright Pink, Orange, a Rich Yellow, and Purple), a gradient from three of them (excluding purple), and the shape of a hexagon.


So I came up with three designs for blog posts. I called them Smooth, Edge, and Bold.

  • Smooth

    • This look draws from the gradient side of our branding

    • Pictures are being give an eye-popping gradient makeover

    • Large swathes of gradients are used as backgrounds

    • Subtle hints of gradient are used to good effect

  • Edge

    • This theme comes out of the sunnier side of out branding colors

    • Straight lines are used to delineate information effectively

    • Has a modern vibe with a little bit of retro flair as our gradient has been transformed into solid blocks of color

  • Bold

    • Hexagons are where it’s at, taking a nod from that side of our current style guide

    • You see these shapes everywhere, big and bold, to subtle and ghosted in the background, or some novel usage for a bespoke feel

    • Color is subtly the star of the show

Case Study 01.webp


The director made a presentation to the c-level crew and our new blog look was chosen…Edge! Here are some real world examples. Some got relegated to the cutting floor, others have since been edited, and others are live.


There are definitely some lessons learned.

  • Doing research really pays off. By hitting the proverbial books the director and myself were able to stave off some potentially poor designs

  • Wait to make decision like this until there are decision makers in place. A month after the new CMO was hired (after my contract ended), he scrapped everything. I still got paid, but I would have rather my strong design work continued

  • Don't be afraid to make changes after the final decision has been made. You can see in some of the final results that I ended up adding in a thin purple stripe to the left edge

  • You can't control everything. Fight the battles you can win. When there is a design decision make by a non-designer that you can't change, that's fine. Do your best to seamlessly integrate it into your design

  • Screenshots of the product are rarely great in a blog post hero image



The brand was expanded a small bit, the brand was shown more consistently to the world, and blog posts everywhere were better for it!

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