A story about embracing change
⚠️ CAUTION — THIS PAGE MIGHT CAUSE HYSTERIA ⚠️
Never change a winning team is what they tell you in the world of team sports. In our world of branding we might ask, why change a successful brand? Why put in all the effort it takes to build a brand? Why even take the risks involved?
As a strategic design & branding agency, it is our lifeblood to develop brands for our clients. When re-branding existing brands we reflect, challenge, question what to keep and what to part ways with. As an outside partner, we’re used to taking an objective role in advising our clients. It’s easy to throw a visual identity in the bin and develop a new one when you’re on the outside. Turning a well-functioning brand upside down and making these decisions for ourselves as one of the most strenuous processes we’ve gone through. Was it really worth it?
To give you a little bit of context we started Serious Business in late 2015 with limited resources as a prototype. Naturally, the real challenge of starting an agency was to get our first projects and build initial relationships with potential clients in a short time span without using a huge amount of resources both financially and time-wise. Taking on a prototyping mentality we decided to build a minimum viable brand in a matter of a few weeks in a quick process with fast decisions. This enabled us to prototype Serious Business in a matter of 5 months with 2 months of preparing our brand and process and 3 months of project work with 5 different clients. It was the perfect way to get our agency started and looking back we managed to use our resources in the best way possible to start Serious Business.
Branding by doing in the first few years as a business is crucial.
We could have spent so much time trying to come up with the perfect authentic brand right from the start yet we couldn’t have completely imagined what our brand would evolve into. In many ways the growth of knowledge and experiences in the first few years of starting our business was incredible which heavily impacted our brand’s evolution over time.
Fast-forward 2 years, we had grown our diverse team, moved into our first real office, word of mouth had spread and we managed to establish ourselves as a sustainable business. Over these first 2 years of starting Serious Business we’ve grown, evolved, and developed at a pace we would have never imagined, and speaking to other founders we believe this is especially true for the first few years of starting a business.
Doing good work is not enough
This development had created a need for clearer communication of who we are and the value we create. We needed something that would guide us in our next phase as a company and despite a natural fear of change we felt tempted to re-brand for three main reasons:
- Our work culture which we’ve always been nurturing with great care and attention had evolved in many ways. As a result, we didn’t feel that the old brand was expressing our personality and culture as a diverse team well enough.
- Working on client projects for more than 2 years made us realize better how to create value, which type of projects and clients we’re most passionate about and how we’re able to communicate the benefits of collaborating with Serious Business.
- The most natural sign when to re-brand is most likely the self-critical question: Are you proud to share your brand with others? Even though we were still confident with our old brand it lacked a certain spark and imagination to create new ideas with the brand.
Introducing the new Serious Business brand
After 9 months of second-guessing, emotional discussions and envisioning the future of Serious Business we created a brand that we all feel incredibly proud of and represents who we are at the very core.
Throughout this process we learned to accept our ingrained fear of change and yet embrace change in a way that would not stop us from a radical evolution of our brand: new symbol, new wordmark, new colors, new visual language and a new website yet there’s a clear connection to the expression our brand had before. So in which ways did our brand evolve?
As part of our re-branding we had been planning for a long time to get rid of our bulky seriousbusiness.agency Domain in favor of acquiring the perfectly fitting serious.business Domain. This change is also reflected through the new wordmark with an abstraction of our symbol to spice it up.
Since the start of Serious Business, we hadn’t used a symbol apart from a shortened “SB” wordmark. We felt a strong need to create a more recognizable symbol for our brand that could be applied more universally. Ultimately our own unique version of the smiley felt like the perfect global expression for our global team.
Colors and Typography
We realized our name triggers different feelings with people as soon as they hear about us. Serious Business sounds somewhat serious to some people whereas it goes into a funny ironic feel towards others. We bring this tension between serious and fun to life through the counterplay of two typefaces — One being a chunky bold type in contrast with a fresh serif font.
Both pink tones are used as our main colors together with black and white for more toned-down applications. The yellow is an addition to the color palette when we need another tonality to highlight the content and contrast with the pink tones.
Changing our website was the scariest part of all but looking back we’re glad about questioning a website that was working well to create an even better one. How? Through consistent copywriting and headlines that follow the concept of love. Visual elements resembling flags as a symbol for our global team and our idea of a Serious Nation.
By putting effort into the production of team photography and a process video with great attention to detail to highlight how we work in an abstract way.
Illustrations of our key design principles. Interactions and movements to guide the user. A clear structure and bespoke presentation of our cases. And overall a more clear communication of the value we create and what we stand for.
One of the most positive effects of our new branding has been the imagination for applications that came with it. We’ve been thinking about creating our own products for a long time and in the first few weeks since launching the new brand we’ve already been inspired to prototype and create dozens of applications and samples from Notebooks to Ping Pong Balls & Rackets, Shirts, Stickers and even a labeled beer for one of our events which has been a great conversation starter. We’re definitely gonna keep on prototyping and who knows, you might just see a Serious Business product in an online shop someday.
So was it really worth taking the risk and putting so much resources into our rebranding? In our case it absolutely was and we believe this to be true for many young companies at a certain point. The incredible growth of experiences and knowledge in the first few years of starting a business develops a brand in so many ways that are unforeseeable. Therefore it’s crucial to realize when the time is right to rebrand.