This post is part of a series discussing the process we’re undertaking to redesign our user interface and branding. We’re sharing in the spirit of “designing in the open” with the hope that it might be of value to our customers and others in our community.
Previously in this series, I outlined a number of preliminary steps we took to better understand our customers’ worlds in order to refresh the Saasu brand. One of the most prominent ways that a brand is communicated is through a visual identity1.
In my experience, a critical step in developing a visual identity is to have a really solid, well thought through design brief. We decided that we wanted to work with a visual design partner to translate the brand vision that had emerged from our user research and staff engagement sessions into a new visual identity system that we could apply to all aspects of our business. (I have written about the distinction between a logo and a visual identity system in a previous post.)
In the briefing, we outlined some core goals for the new brand:
Being an online business, our emphasis was on creating a great online experience. But we wanted to ensure that the identity system also translated into other contexts (e.g. printed materials, conference stands, signage). Our brief also included:
Our aim was to provide enough information for our design collaborators to get up-to-speed with our market space, to understand our wants and needs and to set reasonable boundaries without being overly prescriptive. This latter point is very important (and a difficult balance to achieve); our experience shows that good design starts with the definition of clear boundaries, but tying things down too much or providing too much direction can limit creativity.
We then approached a number of design firms that we felt did inspiring work—some that we’d worked with before, some we knew by reputation, others that we discovered via Pinterest and Dribbble—and sought a response to brief. We were relieved to receive positive feedback about our brief from a number of the designers that we approached for this project; we feel the effort that we put in up front was reflected in the quality of the designers’ responses.
We were keen to engage a collaborative partner that complemented and extended our own skills and experience. After evaluating the responses to the brief (which was no easy task—did I mention we received a number of stand-out responses?), we decided to work with the team at Studio Sammut and have been really happy with the results to date. We hope you are too when we start rolling out these new visual identity elements in the coming months.