By Matthew Reiswig, Creative Director | @matthewreiswig
More than just a new logo.
It’s early June 2016, and we just launched our agency rebrand. It’s a proud and monumental moment in the history of the Webolutions brand. Most people refer to it as “the new logo,” but it’s much more than that. It’s an evolution. It’s a simplification. It’s a clarification. It’s a point in time that not only signals our readiness for the future, but our maturation process, our steady progress toward self-actualization.
It would probably be enough to show you our new assets and give you some rationale. But we want you to see the real us. We want to give you a transparent account of the reshaping of the Webolutions brand.
Keeping it real.
If we experienced anything from our agency rebranding process and our time on “the other side of the fence” more intimately than ever before, it was Discovery. As part of our Market Positioning Action Plan™ process, Discovery is like second nature to us. We work with companies to help define and communicate who they are so they appeal to customers on a more instinctive and emotional level. Every. Day.
“During the discovery phase, your agency uncovers the client’s needs, challenges, and desired results, which you’ll use to create an insightful, goal-oriented marketing plan.”
This Webolutions process challenges companies to look in the mirror and ask, “What makes us truly unique?” and “Are we delivering the type of experience that people will want to talk about?” It’s not always easy, but the result is a complete road map for how to differentiate your business. We found out just how hard that process is, especially when you’re doing it for yourself. Although our “why” was clear in our minds, it was a struggle to manifest clarity in our goals. It was a little like playing your own therapist—objectivity is especially difficult. Some firms choose to pay another agency to do their rebranding process exactly for this reason, but we weren’t bailing.
To begin, we started with a few short conversations and some quick solutions. Call it exploration, call it concepting, whatever. In hindsight, it felt like a couple of false starts. For us, the excitement for the result and the desire to maximize efficiency initially caused us to attempt a shortcut. It was the right spirit—collaborative, quick, efficient—but the wrong execution. Still, it gave us the unique opportunity to empathize with our clients. Who doesn’t want great results in a short amount of time?
What do we really want?
Throughout the entire process, we collected a whole gaggle of goals. Who can blame us? It’s not every day we get an opportunity to rebrand ourselves, to attempt to authentically represent who we are. Finding and focusing on the right goals was the challenge. What do we really want? We sifted through information such as competitive research, personas and key messages that the whole team had invested time in creating.
The most informative portion of the process came through findings in the Stakeholder Workshop. In one key interview with our President & Founder, John Vachalek, it all became clear. Five simple branding goals:
I have a feeling you’re just my type.
Armed with the defined goals of the project, we began (again) with typography. I wanted to go with a typeface that was timeless without feeling old-fashioned. I wanted modern without feeling futuristic or racy. After some initial sketches and a lot of research, we focused on four front-runners: Paperback 9 Roman (House Industries), Helvetica Bold (Haas Type Foundry), Futura Heavy Oblique (Bauer Type Foundry), and Chalet London 1960 (House Industries).
After several rounds of pairing options, we narrowed our focus to two and made the final decision. Chalet London 1960 embodied exactly what we wanted, not only in form, but also in story. We fell in love with the thin, sleek, polished look of the letterforms. It felt appropriate for a mature digital agency, yes, and it also came from a small shop with amazing passion.
Time to get in shape.
By now, about 4.5 months into the process, we had used a dizzying number of descriptive words to try to say what our new brand could mean, to us and to others. In order to make those words mean something, we had to try to translate them visually. We dove headfirst into shape theory (and followed some rabbit trails along the way). Sketching was the first part of the process.
After honing in on some key research, we found a combination of shapes that perfectly embodied many brand values. A circle evokes values like completeness, unity, harmony, community and movement. A triangle evokes values like stability, action, strength and purpose. When we combined them, there was a fusion of ideas that represented even more, though. You know, the whole elusive 1+1=3 formula. For us, it was revolutionary. Now, we had a clear path to move forward with these four values at the core of our brand: opportunity, community, inspiration and cooperation.
What sold it for us is that when we went back to the longstanding members of the team, they loved it. It felt like us. Organized, efficient, simple and recognizable.
Well, color me impressed.
Without getting into the weeds here, color is complicated. While a color dazzles and delights some, it may anger or confuse others. It is, at its base, an element of a brand which most often defines its emotion or mood. Finding consensus can be difficult. To even the playing field, we use Cymbolism which uses crowdsourcing to average word associations with a paired color. At almost a million votes, it’s one of the best color tools we use. We analyzed color associations for 33 words collected directly from every Webolutions employee, including authentic, energetic, friendly, spiffy and leader.
Color was one of the opportunities our entire team felt we needed to capitalize on in the new brand. While the previous brand was professional, our “shades of blue” lacked variety and authenticity. If you can’t tell already, our team is fun and full of character. We wanted to bring color back to our brand without it looking childish.
Wrapping it up.
In the final stretch, we wanted to make sure our new visual brand accomplished these three goals:
- It has to be different.
- It has to be flexible.
- It has to be consistent.
To accomplish those goals, we worked tirelessly until we found that simply by tilting the shape to the right, we could align it to the typography in a way that was symbiotic. I mean, don’t get me wrong, we didn’t make any magic. But to us, that moment where the last pieces of the puzzle fell into place were magical. The slightly askew symbol represented the action and dynamism we felt we were lacking, and it truly made it our own.
Making it real.
Although we’re just beginning to use our new brand, here are a few ways we’ve already put it to good use.
- Business cards
- Email signatures
- Document templates
Shameless plug. Cuz, you know, we do this.
At Webolutions, we have a passion for bringing brands (back) to life. Maybe you’re thinking it’s about time. Just contact us or give us a call. We’d be happy to talk.