In the past year we’ve turned our attention inward to update our branding in a way that better tells the story of our culture and capabilities, given our recent ownership and leadership transition.
The timing was right for a lot of reasons, including our move into a space designed to better represent and inspire us.
On the heels of that move we’re rolling out a refreshed brand identity, including a new visual identity and website with an updated user experience and look. I sat down with Bill Horan, Creative Director, Interaction Design — and director of the brand refresh — as well as managing partners, Mathieu Turpault and Andrew Weiman, to get their take on the process, its drivers, and its results.
Q: Why did you decide to embark on Bresslergroup’s brand refresh now?
Andrew: We’ve grown our capabilities quite significantly over the past few years and we’ve grown our service offerings along the way. We wanted to celebrate the changes by evolving our identity.
Mathieu: We’re in the business of helping clients express their brand identity through product design, and it was important to show what we stand for and how we apply these principles to ourselves.
Q: Can you describe the brand refresh process and its starting point?
Bill: Our approach was similar to the product branding approach we take with clients. Before we begin to prescribe to someone how best to express their brand attributes (physical form, color, interactions, and user experience), we first learn about and explore their brand’s core values and promise.
That’s what we did here as well. We first examined our motivations, explored our goals, identified what makes us stand out, and reevaluated how we present ourselves across all channels – from our new office space to our logo to our website.
Then we surveyed the competitive “brandscape” by dissecting other companies’ websites and other assets to extract their missions, personality traits, and brand attributes. This gave us a firm understanding of what’s out there, who our competitors really are, and what makes us stand out.
Q: Bresslergroup’s been around for 45 years. How do you honor that history while creating something new?
Bill: We didn’t want the branding to feel like a top-down commandment. It has to be an accurate reflection of the company’s true self. There’s a lot of culture and history here, and a lot of people who have worked here for a long time. There’s also a new personality that has evolved through growth and change of leadership that hasn’t been explicitly stated. So we developed a brand introspection survey and sent it around to gauge who we are as a company from the mouths of the people who work here. We asked people what they think about the company, about who we are, what’s good about us, what we can do better, etc.
A lot of the same words came up over and over – speedy, reliable, creative, clever, inventive, empathetic, dedicated. We held a series of brand character workshops to narrow this collection down to a few. After plenty of debate and discussion over terms and semantics, we noticed the same three traits kept coming up: curious, clever, and nimble. These seem to best reflect both who we are and who we want to be.
Q: Once the brand personality was established, the vision, mission, and positioning language followed. What does “research-driven product innovation lab,” our new definition, mean to you?
Bill: Research is the first and most important step in the product innovation process, so keeping that up-front is key. Uncovering real, meaningful unmet needs and opportunities has always been, and continues to be, paramount for us. We like the term “Lab” because we experiment here. We try new things, we fail, and we keep at it. This iteration drives the innovation process for us. If we’re not failing, we’re not innovating.
Mathieu: For me it clarifies what we’re about. We’re research-driven because we’re curious — we do best when we’re figuring out which problems need to be solved. And we add the most value to a project in the early stages of design and technical innovation. This is what we’re great at — this is what gets us up in the morning.
Andrew: Each word in the phrase is meaningful, and it’s a succinct description of who we are. For me on the engineering side, it’s about using our research colleagues’ findings to drive creative solutions to complex challenges.
Q: How did you go about translating these brand concepts into a visual identity?
Bill: We took all of these notions and started to come up with conceptual directions. We were inspired by the idea of structured play, of the tension between complexity and simplicity, and of different disciplines coming together and iterating around an idea. The idea of a path that makes quick turns … tight pivots.
If you think about all those things, you can start to see how we came up with this mark that looks a bit like puzzle pieces coming together. At first glance it’s pretty simple but the more you look at it, the more complex and unexpected it becomes.
I know a lot of that sounds like the kinds of things creative directors say, but it is what inspired us. In the end, the logo reflects the essence of our brand. It’s strong and bold, edgy, curious, and clever. It has a feeling of authenticity and solidness that comes with all of our experience here at Bresslergroup.
In terms of color, red is a very strong element in our heritage. We have existing brand equity there, so we would have needed a very good reason to change that. Red is also a color space that not many of our competitors occupy. So we stayed with red but shifted to a hue with more depth, personality, and energy.
With the new brand concepts, logo, and color palette in place, we were ready to design the new website, signage, business cards, letterheads, social media pages, and aspects of the new office. This continues to be a work in progress.
Q: Is it important to leave room for the brand to evolve?
Bill: Absolutely. Our brand is meant to provide a foundation and a unified direction, not be overly prescriptive. It’s an organic process to allow your brand to really come to life and express itself. The brand will continue to evolve and adapt as we do.
Q: How challenging was it to be your own client?
Bill: Maintaining objectivity can be difficult with internal projects, and people have very strong, passionate opinions. The biggest challenge is balancing internal initiatives with client work.
Mathieu: I didn’t find it that challenging, probably because we had help from Bill and we also tapped a former client turned consultant, Don Apruzzese. Bill and Don helped get us on the same page in terms of defining ourselves and where we’re going. The process was really smooth.
Andrew: Not challenging at all – I’m a great client!
Q: How do you think this process has strengthened Bresslergroup?
Bill: I think it was really clarifying for us as a company to understand what our goals are, what makes us different, and how we’re going to express that.
Andrew: It has sharpened our focus and messaging so we can better articulate who we are and what we do. This is true for external and internal communications.
Mathieu: I think we understood who we are and what makes us strong, and now we’ve been able to codify that for our entire team and for our clients in a way that’s really powerful.
Q: Which aspect of the brand refresh are you most proud of?
Bill: I can’t choose a favorite. It’s been such an all-encompassing transformation for us that the whole becomes greater than any part. Although I will say that the excitement that everyone in the office has for the refresh has been the most satisfying. That’s probably the best measure of success for me, that people in the office identify with it and can say “yeah, that’s us!”, and also “that’s who we want to be”.
Andrew: I think the “research-driven product innovation lab” tagline and the new logo are strong and succinct representations of who we are now and what we’re driving toward.
Mathieu: The new space probably wins for me, because it’s where it all happens. And because it’s very literally a three-dimensional, fully interactive representation of who we are — we designed the space based on how we work. It is more collaborative, more vibrant, and it’ll make it easier to get talented people excited about making great stuff.