When is it time for a rebrand?
Rebranding your business is no small feat, however there are many valid reasons to do so. For us there were a number of contributing factors. When Solutions Outsourced started 18 years ago, we were working within an emerging digital industry. Few businesses had the resources in-house for our services, instead outsourcing their digital solutions; hence the name Solutions Outsourced.
Over the last 18 years, the outsourcing of professional services around the world has become far more commonplace and accessible to Australian businesses. Because of this, the meaning of the term “outsourced” has changed over time, becoming synonymous with offshoring work to foreign professionals. We knew that some people might assume we’re the ones doing the outsourcing, so while we’re not knocking this way of doing business, it just isn’t how we like to work.
In addition, the digital world has changed in significant ways in the last two decades and so has our service offering. Not only do we provide digital solutions, such as development and digital marketing. We are now, and have been for many years, a full-service agency offering offline services including branding, print design, apparel, merchandise, and so on. Not to mention the immense changes just within the web space (hello, responsive design!). It had also been many years since we last refreshed our visual identity, and that had only been a cosmetic refresh, as opposed to a full rebrand. We knew that to carry us into the next 18 years, we needed our brand to better reflect what we do and who we are. For us, it was time.
What rebranding looks like
Whether rebranding, or creating a brand from scratch, we always start in the same place. To boil it down to the main points, we look at the who, what, why and how of a business. We then tease out the values of the business, who its audience is, who its competitors are, and what the personality of the brand is (i.e. if the brand was a person, who would it be? Is your business a Tom Hanks or Lady Gaga?). The way that we get to these answers can look a little different each time, but when it was our turn, we made it a team effort.
We started with workshops including word association games; when you see the word "design", what comes to mind? How about "development"? Many a sheet of butcher’s paper was...butchered! We looked at our core values. We asked ourselves what our strengths were, what work we wanted to be doing, what environment we wanted to work in. It didn’t happen overnight. But those time-consuming, sometimes tricky questions, were well worth it to help us figure out who we are as a brand. They allowed us to make informed decisions when it came to bringing the brand to life visually. They ensured that each touchpoint we created thereafter reflected the brand, be it logo, website or email signature.
Once you know your brand, can summarise it in a few sentences, then the fun can begin. We began by looking at our name and in turn our logo, colour palettes, illustrations, website, email signatures, social media assets, invoices, proposal documents (and so much more!).
After figuring out who we are as a brand, our name was the next element we needed to finalise. We knew we wanted to limit the risk of outgrowing our name any time soon. The name also needed to reflect the conclusions we'd drawn from the exploration of who we are as a brand.
We delved into the pros and cons of descriptive names versus creative names. We considered all of the possible attachment words like 'creative' or 'studio'.
In the end, we decided on Greenhouse Creative. A greenhouse allows a farmer to control the conditions for a seed to sprout and grow. It allows a plant to flourish and thrive by providing the right environment to support the plant’s growth. If a company can do a great job of providing the right environment for its people, those people will be empowered to do great work that brings real and tangible benefits to their clients.
After our discovery sessions to determine who we were as a brand and what we would be called, it was time for a new logo. While your brand is never just your logo, your logo needs to be strong, visually effective across many mediums, provide longevity and help people to engage with your business.
We opted for a typographic logo or 'logotype'. Our logotype is a combination of hand-lettering for 'greenhouse', giving it a personable and creative feel, and a font for 'CREATIVE' to provide harmony and strength.
We opted to play with the typographic elements, such as the ascenders and descenders (i.e. the tall part on the 'h' and the long part on the 'g') as well as the x-height (the height of a short letter like the 's') in order to create balance throughout the word.
We needed the logo to work across many applications, so we created a series of logo lockups. There's the primary logo which is used for all applications where size and printing permits it. There's the stamp; a compact version of the primary logo, which is used for smaller spaces that don't accommodate the primary logo, as well as an official seal for applications such as certificates. Then there is the final simplified stamp, comprising just of a 'gh', used for applications such as our website favicon.
We knew who we were as a brand, we had a name and we had a logo. Now we needed a website. During the rollout of a brand, many elements can occur concurrently. As we brought to life our logo and website, we also developed elements such as colour palettes, illustrations and graphics.
Websites can fulfill a range of purposes, and it's important to ask questions at the outset to ensure you're meeting your business' needs. Will you sell products on your site? Do you simply need to provide a point of contact? Do you require something more substantial to showcase your work? For our purposes, we wanted to communicate who we are, our skills and specialties, showcase our past work, and provide a point of contact for current and potential clients.
The process of creating a website can vary based on specific needs, but it often follows a similar path. We started with important questions, such as who our target audience is and what we expect them to do when arriving on the site. From these questions, we developed a sitemap, followed by a wireframe. Once these were fine tuned, we progressed to the design stage, bringing the scaffolding of the site to life with colours, fonts, and other design elements. After reviewing and iterating on the site until we were sure we were meeting our goals, we built the designs with code, populated this with content and published it to the web.
A website's work is never finished; it needs to be kept up to date with current content. We frequently update our website with new portfolio pieces and regularly review the content we have on more static pages to ensure it remains relevant.
Rolling out a brand
We knew who we were as a brand, we had a name, a logo and a website. We also had our colour palette, and a range of illustrations and graphics. Now we needed to flesh out our brand with a range of collateral.
Every business requires different collateral. For our part we needed email signatures, an email newsletter template, quote and proposal template, social media profile and cover images, stickers, t-shirts and more!
We recognise how important it is to create a consistent and strong brand, not for us, but for our clients and audience. If you want to build trust in your brand, it's crucial to ensure each touchpoint your audience has with your business feels like 'you'.