The Whimsy Framework was a general theme for WordPress that I developed and released for free on the WordPress theme repository. It’s still there for posterity, but it doesn’t work with newer versions and I was no longer able to develop it due to chronic health issues.
But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t an entire business built around it.
I began developing the theme that would act as the foundation for tons of planned child themes for my academy for designers and marketers. But development was slow and I needed to learn a lot more than I thought just to get the base theme ready to go and released on WP.
Later, I founded Whimsy Creative Co. to create separation between the theme development and the learning arm of the Fanciful Academy.
Since the two are so interwoven, I decided to do the case study on Whimsy Framework and just include everything that related to it between the two businesses on one page.
The Fanciful Academy was supposed to be where I taught brand and web designers how to be great at what they do. But I was building it in the middle of the worst years of my life, due to chronic health issues like endometriosis and struggling to balance it all with mental health issues like a bipolar diagnosis that I wanted to ignore.
Every time I’d build a little momentum, I’d lose it to another surgery, or depression, or whatever. I just never got it off the ground.
Like my personal brand, I bounced back and forth between colors, fonts, and logos, the stuff I knew I was good while failing to build the things to support it – an audience and a solid message.
Chronic pain is hell on mental health, and mine wasn’t great anyway. At the root, I didn’t want to disappoint anyone if I found myself unable to drag myself into a sitting position, so I never pushed myself to interact. Can’t disappoint people who don’t know you exist, right? (Can’t help them either.)
I was still moonlighting in other people’s creative agencies to keep the lights on. And so I took the L and moved on.
In an attempt to maintain some semblance of consistency I migrated the colors and fonts to my personal brand (a mistake).
The branding itself was excellent, but it should have stayed (and died) with TFA. So that’s the Fanciful Tale of the academy that never was.
Now let’s dig into the details…
The Fanciful Academy
The branding I started with evolved over time from a handwritten word mark with a dull swish to a sleeker mono-line version sometime around its tenth anniversary.
I took the opportunity to give it a full rebrand, and expanded the color scheme from grays and turquoise to include coral, gold, and violet. I also deepened the text color to boost legibility and accessibility.
More important, I clarified the purpose of the business by including “academy”.