In late 2011, we decided to not only undergo a substantial redesign of our site, but also to tackle a bigger challenge: our brand and how we are perceived. It’s a daunting prospect for any business—but even more so for one where creativity and innovation have come to be expected.
The previous branding was never fully fleshed out and, although it had some recognition, it had never represented the level of quality we aspired to. Newism have always been considered to be passionate purveyors of our craft, but this was something that doesn’t always resonate with businesses, or potential new customers. This was our big attempt at being taken seriously and getting noticed.
The initial step was to gather all the major stakeholders and thrash out what it is that Newism means, from both a business and personal perspective, and how we were going to relay that to potential clients.
Some key points from these initial discussions:
- We are a proven agency partner, having worked with Arnold Furnace, HOST and Leo Burnett.
- We are agile for agencies.
- We represent brands.
- Our team are designers and developers.
- Clients want to know our process and they want to see real results.
- We love our clients.
These points were specifically geared towards meeting some of our primary business objectives, which were:
- Increased awareness of Newism’s presence.
- Increase in business development project leads.
- Reduction of lower quality leads.
- Increased website traffic and email subscribers.
- Increased social reach.
Based on these considerations (and much discussion), the overall message we wanted to convey was pretty clear: that Newism were no longer merely “website builders” but “online business developers”. We want to appeal to businesses that are looking to take their online presence to the next level. We want to partner with them and we want to help their business prosper.
From this our tagline, “Helping brands and agencies build successful businesses online”, was created.
Branding Process (or trying not to cry in front of others)
With the message now determined we moved onto creating an identity that would explain it. From the outset we decided that rather than focus on literally creating an image that said “online business development” we would turn our attention towards defining something that represents the core values that go into making Newism, Newism.
Some of the values we identified were:
- Approachable, not untouchable
- Solid, skilled & experienced
- Sense of Humor
- Slightly irreverent
To achieve this in the form of a logo was no mean feat. Around two weeks was spent solely iterating through a stack of different concepts (over 150) that would clearly define the above characteristics.
Initially we were heavily focussed on a rebellious “out with the old” vibe. With concepts ranging from crowns with arrows pierced through them, to flaming molotov cocktails, it was after much discussion that we determined that these may be a bit too abrasive for some potential clients. Certainly, nothing says this more than a viking helmet. The concern was that it may be so edgy that businesses won’t get us and therefore may not want to work with us.
With this in mind, we developed a brand that possessed more of a solid, timeless quality.
Deciding to focus on the letter “N”, we chose to create a strong visual that would be instantly recognizable and incorporate the Newism values we had defined earlier. This section of the branding process was perhaps the most exhaustive in terms of the effort that went in to getting it to look just right before we settled on the final version.
The finished design consists of two abstract, intertwined N’s (or three overlapping triangles, depending on how you look at it). The way in which these elements overlap, not only creates a powerful image with a solid base, but the detail present in the colours used and the form and shapes created, gives the impression of movement and agility – we even managed to get a subliminal crown in there too (although minus the arrow through the face). All of these elements had to be considered to ensure that the final brand reflected the values we wanted to convey to potential clients.
In terms of colours, the combination of pink and purple was chosen due to it’s visibility and uniqueness. When exploring different colour combinations, we had initially designed the logo to be interchangeable as far as colour was concerned. This was to potentially allowing us to brand certain parts of Newism differently. In the end however, purple was something we wanted to retain as it was predominant in our previous branding and something that our existing clients and peers still related with Newism.
The Newism typeface was kept rounded and condensed to contrast with the angles and geometry of the main mark. We also chose to use this typeface only in the main logo and not the remainder of the branding so that it appeared more of a custom font and would ultimately stand out in the rest of our collateral.
With the main brand concept now agreed upon, we got started on updating the rest of the collateral. And by rest of the collateral, we mean everything – we even produced Newism branded grid pads. Essentially the branding from this point on consisted of creating a range of collateral that was clean, professional and unique and backed up and emphasized the new branding.
Some of this collateral, and a little teaser site, was released prior to Web Directions South last year to give people a taste of what was in-store.
A Simple One-pager?
Now that our main branding had been completed, we could get started on a simple one-pager to announce our new image. The simple one-pager was, in the end, anything but.
Much like the branding re-design, the new site went through many iterations. After the dust had settled, we come up with essentially a one-page site that fitted exactly what we wanted for the relaunch.
The first section focusses on our brand tagline and case studies of selected work. Early on we determined that the potential clients wanted to see results, so having a range of successful projects we had completed for prominent clients as an introduction was determined to be a strong starting point.
We wanted this work to be the focus as it’s our strength. It’s something we are proud of and it’s something that set us apart. It’s an example of the quality and the detail of the projects we undertake and what we are capable of.
Each project features a gallery and some insightful content on how we worked our magic.
The bones of the design are grid-based and structured, but the way that the content blocks are arranged pulls the user down the page. Colours and shapes draw from elements used in the updated collateral to link it all together. Content is broken into defined sections and we endeavored to include appropriately toned content to keep users interested – focussing them on getting in touch with us and increasing email subscriptions.
To show off our abilities designing and building sites for multiple devices, we worked quite early on in the process towards making the site responsive and looking great on all devices. Using Stitch mixins (by our own Anthony Short) made this a relatively painless undertaking.
Originally the site was meant to be a short-term static site, with a full ExpressionEngine rebuild to start in the coming months between projects. We realized pretty quickly that that could be months away, and with a desire to start actively blogging again, the decision was made to incorporate the current site with our Newism EE2 Template. The design for the blog follows on from the homepage, with a clean and structured layout. It too displays seamlessly on all major mobile devices.
With the site and blog now up and running, it is still very much a work in progress. We are constantly refining our processes at Newism and these will ultimately find there way in to the work we produce. The plan is to still redesign the site again as a full-blown EE2 site, but for the time being at least we’ll be tweaking the existing site to make it a better experience for users.
Looking at what we have achieved with the rebrand we are all really happy with results. From a personal point of view, it was over 6 months, albeit periodically, of hard work, long days and often crying myself all the way home.
Still, what we ended up creating is a really powerful image with relevance to who were are and were we are headed.