“A brand vision should attempt to go beyond functional benefits to consider organizational values; a higher purpose; brand personality; and emotional, social, and self-expressive benefits.” – David Aaker
On the most basic level, a brand is understood in terms of a name or the visual designs associated with a product or a company such as a particular mark or colour.
However, over the years it’s widely been accepted that a brand goes beyond the tangible design elements to something more abstract whose meaning is shaped by various actors.
Accordingly, a brand emerges as various authors i.e. consumers, media, brand managers and owners, tell stories that involve the brand’s meaning.
As a result, it can be argued that a company’s full brand equity is not only gradual but also ever evolving.
During the early years, a company may iterate its products and services, enter new markets or evolve its customer base. At the same time, while the business evolves, its visual identity can remain untouched.
Of course, there are many reasons why a company may want to evaluate its brand experience and consider making a change. Sometimes it’s inspired by growth, a change within the company’s mission/target audience/product/market or because it has outgrown its visual identity.
Often, stakeholders will value one of these reasons more than others. And in some circumstances, none of these reasons justify something as disruptive and resource intensive as a full rebrand or a brand refresh.
Every single brand conversation is different.
When it’s the right time
The trick is knowing when it’s the right time to have a company-wide brand conversation.
For Startupbootcamp, that time came late 2016.
We had expanded beyond our European origins, became known for our industry-specific programs around the world and refined our ideal portfolio company further. At the same time, there was a general agreement internally that we needed to freshen our look.
Taking on board all these reasons, we embarked on a 10-month brand refresh project.
A research deep-dive
To kick off, we undertook an extensive 4-month brand audit, with an aim to test assumptions, validated the need for a brand refresh, and find actionable takeaways.
During this phase, some of the steps we took included:
- We interviewed Startupbootcamp MDs and alumni to gather their insights about our organization, our personality, our ideal founder, what made us different, and our exciting brand experience.
- Key takeaway: We’re the first ones to say that startups are more agile and innovative, and we need to practice what we preach.
Messaging and Positioning
- We looked at how we communicated and how those messages defined our positioning within the market.
- We looked at our existing portfolio companies, the type of founders we’ve selected into our programs and what key success metrics were.
- Key takeaway: We aim to support mature founders building businesses with revenue in mind.
- With our being 15 letters long, naturally, the idea of the name change was explored.
- Key takeaway: We need to own the abbreviation of the name in some external communications and refresh our logo.
- We took an honest look at our logo, colour palette, marketing collateral and digital footprint.
- Key takeaway: Our visual identity needs to appeal to a very diverse stakeholder group so we need to strive for greater consistency with our new identity.
A journey towards a creative alignment
In many respects, the real difficult questions were tackled during the brand audit.
However, by deciding to change our existing visual identity, the second part of the project was no easy task.
Startupbootcamp has adopted a branded house strategy from inception. So when we decided to change the logo, colours, fonts, update the website, imagery and high-level communication messages it was not only for one brand but also for its 12+ sub-brands.
This meant that any creative direction we pursued and recommendations considered had to work across the whole organization.
Moreover, each part the brand refresh needed to strengthen and communicate our evolution while keeping elements of our origins.
We don’t call it a rebrand. We call it a brand evolution.
We’ve bid farewell to the boots. In an industry faced with diversity challenges, we recognized the boots carried certain connotations that didn’t reflect our values and alienated a diverse founder community.
We’ve introduced upward arrows. The two arrows symbolize the growth journey our startups go through during their 3-month acceleration. The arrows will be an icon we’ll use in various offline and online collateral.
We’ve created an abbreviated logo. The abbreviated logo was created to introduce our acronym to the outside world while recognizing the importance of having a shorter version of the logo in certain circumstances.
We’ve freshened our colours. We recognized that having two colours within the logo led to common misspellings (it’s never Startup Bootcamp or StartUpBootCamp). On the other hand, we wanted to keep the teal that we’ve come to be known for while introducing complementary highlight colours to our palette.
We’ve chosen a thinner font. Our previous font was impact. The weight of that font was really not doing our logo any favours. Instead, we’ve chosen Teko as our new logo’s font type. For the copy, we opted for Roboto Slab.
We’ve chosen human-led photography. Being a company whose business is built on human connections, aspirations, and successes, we want to celebrate our entrepreneurs and the people behind Startupbootcamp by using images that tell their stories.
We’ve updated our digital footprint. We migrated our website to WordPress last summer and have been making constant improvements ever since. Nevertheless, the brand refresh gave us the importunity to update our copy, key messages, and overall look.
Planning a two-phase rollout
We knew from the start that we wanted to create minimum disruption with this project. This meant pursuing a two-phase rollout of the new look.
The first was unveiled today across our digital channels—from the website to our social media channels. The second roll-out phase will be done gradually with our 20 programs working towards applying the new look across various offline assets during the next 3 months.
Take a look at our new visual identity
We are excited about the evolution of our brand and its story. It’s been a great journey exploring who we are, who we support, how we communicate and how we can create greater alignment in our ever expanding branded house.
Ps: Some final numbers
- Number of months the project has been going: 10
- Number of decks created: 5, circa 300 slides in total
- Number of final logo iterations: 3
- Number of creatives involved: 6
- Number of Startupbootcamp MDs & Co-Founders with strong opinions: 10+
- Number of heated creative discussions: I stopped counting at month 5 🙂