Blog | January 9, 2017

Identity Upgrade: The Webdam Rebrand

by Mike Waite in Brand Management

There are some things that really frighten marketers. Things like budgets gone inexplicably missing, $10,000 bar tabs from a Las Vegas conference or typos in a campaign headline.

Somewhere on that list you’ll find rebranding projects. But there comes a time when every marketing team has to confront a cherished-but-aging identity. We just had ours, and it’s a classic journey through crisis, ordeal and finally rebirth that we thought you’d enjoy.

Webdam was founded six years ago with a big idea: Marketers and creative leaders could tell better brand stories if it was easier to organize, use and share the rich media assets at the heart of their creative. Digital asset management (DAM) systems at the time were all heavy installed software systems that required lots of resources to implement and manage. Webdam introduced the first web-based DAM to help more companies unlock the potential of their creative assets.

The original identity served the company well. Webdam is recognized as a leader in the industry, and the company has been profitable from the start, growing more than 100% each year. But a lot has changed.

Time for an Update

Technology has revolutionized the way marketing and creative departments work. Webdam is keeping pace, developing new solutions and envisioning an even more ambitious role for digital asset management in building successful brands. Webdam Brand Connect, a platform for simplifying and automating brand management tasks, was introduced just over a year ago. More solutions that build on our vision for helping brands grow and thrive are in the near-term pipeline.

But the Webdam identity wasn’t keeping up. It was no longer a reflection of what the company was or how the people who knew us best perceived us.

We did some research to understand what our brand stood for. We learned that people who know us best – our customers – loved us. But our visual identity wasn’t creating the best first impression with the people who didn’t know us. The brand colors and logo were seen by many as dated, and the emphasis we gave to the second half of our company name by capitalizing the letters even led some people to believe we were in the web security business.

Based on identity alone, we were starting at a disadvantage. But more important, the identity wasn’t effectively capturing our dynamic culture, ambitious goals or fun-loving personality.

Back to the Drawing Board – Literally

Setting the goals for the new Webdam identity was easy. We wanted to create a brand platform ready to support the company through its next phase of expansion and growth, reflecting what makes Webdam unique. We wanted to represent what the company is today and where it’s going in the future. We wanted to strengthen perceptions of key brand equities like “connected,” “flow” and “agility” and contemporize our look and colors so Webdam would be as cool on the outside as we are on the inside.

We assembled a team that included members from product, sales and marketing, some of whom had been with the company from the start.  We worked together to fine-tune our creative brief and sanity check our rebrand plan. We wanted to make sure a range of perspectives was represented in the goals and strategy.

There was a lot to do. The Webdam rebrand plan included:

  • New logo
  • New brand guidelines
  • Website redesign
  • Refreshed print and digital assets (over 6,000 of them!)

Large pads of paper and markers flew around our conference room, easel notes covered the walls and we forced ourselves to put our feelings about our company and what makes us unique into words. We wrote lists, re-wrote lists and agonized over decisions as we boiled down the meaning of our company into a few important descriptors.

Stretching the Boundaries

It’s tricky business distilling the essence of a company into a graphic identity. Campaigns, websites and even positioning turn over pretty quickly. But identity is meant to be more enduring. A logo design ought to last for years without much change or refinement. A durable identity is one of the things that gives customers trust.

We looked at companies we admire for inspiration and to set the bar. We looked at the competition to understand the creative pool we’re swimming in. And we spent a lot of time just scrolling through websites to see what worked and what didn’t.

We started big, exploring a wildly divergent set of initial designs. We wanted to make sure we were pushing our comfort zone and exploring ideas that colored outside the lines, so to speak.

Exploration is about going where you haven’t been and learning from the process. From these early rounds of ideas, we began zooming in on designs that felt right.

Tryouts

There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to design – it’s a subjective business. Making decisions takes intuition and judgement as much as measurement, so diverse opinions matter. Not because they are necessarily right, but because they give you one perspective. When enough perspectives stack up the same way, you need to pay attention.

As we began to make decisions, we sought out lots of opinions from employees, customers, stakeholders and spouses. More eyes let you see things you’d otherwise miss. For example, early versions of the “veloci-curve” went up and right turning the swoosh into a plainly visible “J.” Only one person in 20 saw it, but as soon as he pointed it out it was impossible to miss.

We took the most promising ideas and started putting them into designs and environments to see how they worked in a range of situations. Actually applying different solutions made it really plain that some designs we liked just didn’t work – they didn’t scale well, got lost or were just hard to work with. The design we chose, on the other hand, gained momentum the more we worked with it. We didn’t choose it quite as much as it showed us it was the obvious answer.

The Final Stretch

Developing a new logo is a little like packing for a big trip. There’s a lot to do, and it can seem daunting – a major project on its own. But when you finish you realize you haven’t even started the trip yet.

Once a logo design is selected, the journey is just getting started. Lots of creative decisions remain. There’s the final micro-refinement of lettering and design; color pallette with HEX, RGB, CMYK and PMS versions; favicon development; brand guidelines and more.

And with all that settled, the new identity still has to be implemented. You don’t know how many places your logo lives until you have to find and replace them all. In our case it was literally thousands of places – websites, collateral, social pages, advertising, presentations, business cards, office walls, building signs and many more.

This is a case where the cobbler’s children had really nice shoes to wear. Rolling out new identity is one of the most potent use cases for a digital asset management system. Every Webdam brand asset lived in our DAM. They could be located and replaced in one central location without a lot of trouble or any disruption to our marketing programs and sales efforts.

New brand guidelines, likewise, were published where all our employees and partners already knew to look for them. Webdam Brand Connect hosts up-to-the-second brand standards, logo files, fonts, approved images and finished assets like sales collateral. Introducing the Webdam team to our new brand and materials was as easy as flipping a switch and sending an email.

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The Big Reveal

And now, after all the brain storms, hard work, fussing and fiddling, our rebrand is finally ready for its biggest test and most important audience. We are committing to the next chapter in the Webdam story and have set ambitious goals for ourselves. The marketers and creative leaders we serve know how to dream big, and it’s our mission to help them tell their brand stories.

We hope our customers and partners see our new identity as a refreshing makeover. We hope it helps those unfamiliar with Webdam to “get us” more clearly from the start. And we hope it makes our competitors a little uneasy.

This chapter is just getting started. The reveal is just a particularly exciting time in our story.

Thanks to all of you who have been part of our journey. We know our new look raises expectations for the future, just as it motivates us to exceed them in 2017 and beyond.

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