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If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together

2020 – A year to leave a (logo) mark…

What a year 2020 has been! The world has faced significant challenges. For many businesses, including Signifyd, the disruption became the backdrop for inner reflection, transformation and, in our case, unexpected growth. As a result, we are excited to embark on a new brand adventure to support our continued expansion into international markets, to reflect our growing network of enterprise merchants, and to better represent the nature of our innovative products and business. 

Branding roadmap

When I started at Signifyd 3 ½ years ago, our brand was in its youth stage. The company had great DNA, but so much untapped potential for growth and development – which has made my job so fun and exciting! Who doesn’t enjoy the challenge of taking a seedling, providing it with attention, the necessary conditions – like sunlight and water – and might I even say love, and then watching it blossom into something beautiful and strong?

Since my first day, the brand and marketing design team has been crafting a more dynamic visual environment. The goal was to better demonstrate the innovative and forward-thinking nature of our model and product – in this analogy, providing the sunlight – while our content marketing team worked carefully constructing our messaging and storytelling to help steer our brand into being a trusted partner, bringing insights and data to merchants in a relatable manner. That’s the water in the analogy.

The brainstorming factory and brand amplification

The in-depth transformation really cranked up in 2019, when we decided to run a series of workshops to investigate our brand’s purpose, vision and values, to understand our target audience, competition and markets, and to explore our brand personality and voice. We knew that we needed to continue to build credibility and strength in the market. The ultimate goal was to inform our future brand strategy. We approached that by determining and refining our positioning and unique selling propositions.

Raj Ramanand participating in a Signifyd rebranding workshop

The workshops were conducted initially with our founders and executive team. We could have stopped there. We had the feedback from, let’s be honest, the most essential voices for moving forward. But we love data, and by “we”, I mean “me.” (Yes, I said it, I’m a designer AND closet data nerd.) We wanted to be comprehensive, inclusive and we wanted to go far, together.

Next, we built out a brand advisory board composed of key stakeholders and employee volunteers passionate about our brand across the org, from ICs to VPs. We invited  representatives from all teams, including those who don’t interact directly with our customers, because those folks have valuable opinions too.

Finally, we opened the workshops up to all employees, to allow an opportunity for anyone who wanted their voice to be heard to weigh in. We wanted to test the edges of our brand perception. To do that we needed free-thinking and civil disagreement, instead of an echo chamber telling us what we wanted to hear and/or confirming our biases.

Sarah Kinkade running a Signifyd brand workshop

Allowing anyone who wanted to participate open access to the brand team was one of the most rewarding and enlightening parts of the process. Many people opened with, “I don’t know anything about brand…” Then they followed with the most insightful information about our brand. Huge shoutout to those courageous souls.

All in all, we pulled off around 20 one-hour sessions over the span of a two-week period, with 50 participants, or nearly  20% of our employees.

Sushi, Tesla trucks, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Bradley Cooper and the whole Signifyd company

We held the workshops in an open, central conference room and encouraged people walking by to grab their lunch, join us and offer their thoughts. 

The brand workshop consisted of nine exercises, including some good old, tried and true prompts, like “I wish, I like,” “The Gift Tag” and “The Golden Circle.” We had spectrums and matrixes, competitive landscapes, archetypes, best-in-class brand stories, celebrity photos and vehicles. We got folks thinking… “If Signifyd were a food, what would it be and why?” Hint: sushi! We ate cookies. We brainstormed. We chatted with our colleagues about brand(s). We had fun. Most importantly, we listened, took notes and gathered a ton of insightful data. Then we mined it, analyzed it, rolled up our sleeves and got back to work.

Post-it notes at a Signifyd brand workshop

What does it all mean?

The data patterns revealed specific keywords and concepts that pointed to some potential gaps in our brand framework. Armed with our newfound knowledge, we went into brand refinement mode. For the logo, the design team would toss a concept over the fence to be poked at with pointy sticks by stakeholders. It would be returned, sometimes full of too many holes and therefore retired. Other times it would come back with enthusiasm and accolades for the direction, and it would head back to design for another round of iterations. 

Meanwhile, we used the data results to test the market to determine what resonated internally and externally. For example, if the data results showed that we should be more or less one thing or another, we could test the hypothesis out on a small-scale campaign and measure the results. In some places we pushed, being bolder in our use of colors and visuals; in other cases, we pulled back, showing restraint. We watched. We listened. We took notes. We adapted based on results, reactions, feedback. 

Planting a flag

This brings us to where we are today: the culmination of all of the groundwork and foundation building, to where we unveil our new logo. It’s been a long time coming. We could have done it faster in a vacuum, but at Signifyd, we love collaboration, so we do things together. I know that for some, “design by committee” is considered a messy, undesirable concept and while we obviously couldn’t make everyone happy addressing every concern or idea we heard, we could listen with curiosity and incorporate feedback into our approach.  

Like a great haircut or well-tailored clothes, this change might appear subtle. That is intentional. We understand that change is hard and that trust is hard-earned. We cherish the relationships we have built with our prospects, customers, partners and employees; because of this, we opted for a more gradual, carefully strategized and staged change over the past year. The final pièce de résistance is our new logo — really, the cherry on top of the proverbial cake.

The end result

This is our grown-up Signifyd. Our confident, professional, innovative, collective Signifyd. We began our grassroots journey 10 years ago in 2011. As we prepare for 2021, we acknowledge that we have come a long way. We have stretched and grown in so many ways, from our international expansion to our product innovation to our enterprise customers, we now have a mature and realistic visual representation of who we are.

To our internal teams, thank you for your input, trust and patience in the process. We could not have hoped for, or expected, better or more enlightening conversations and insights from you. We heard you, appreciate you and hope that we have properly represented your vision.

To our partners and customers, thank you for coming on this journey with us. We could not have done any of this without your commitment to excellence and trusted advisorship. 

We will continue to go far – together.

Retrospective Stories from the Field

Funny story 1: In one of the exercises, we had a wall of photos of vehicles. The participants were asked to put a red dot on the vehicle that best represented Signifyd today and a green dot on that which Signifyd should be in the future, and tell us why. One of the first participants didn’t see what he wanted on the list and asked if he could add his own Post-it instead. I was enthusiastic. He wrote “Tesla truck” and put a green dot on his Post-it. Over the course of the remaining workshops, people continued to add green dots onto the Tesla truck Post-it until it had more than any other vehicle on the wall. My key takeaway from this was that the clear winner was the one with no visual. Were people imagining the same or different Tesla trucks? What color was it? Would they have still chosen it if it had been on top of a mountain, by the sea, in the desert? We’ll never know how people envisioned that truck, individually or collectively. Interesting fact: there were other handwritten Post-it suggestions for missing imagery but none garnered as much attention or solicited as much feedback, positive or negative, as the Tesla truck one did. We ultimately removed it from the findings, because it seemed to have an unfair advantage.

A matrix at a Signifdy brand building workshop

Funny story 2: On our first exercise entitled “Where are we, where do we go from here?”, we had a matrix. There were 4 axes, two of which were “Formal, Professional” at the top and “Vibrant, Energetic” to the right. We noticed about halfway through the workshops that the data was so homogenous that we wondered if there was a top-right quadrant bias, so for the latter workshops, we switched the label placement on the axes and put “Formal, Professional” at the bottom and “Vibrant, Energetic” to the left. Guess what? The results were identical! In the eyes of our employees, Signifyd really needs to be both more vibrant and energetic and more formal and professional.

Sarah Kinkade

Sarah Kinkade

Sarah leads brand design and strategy at Signifyd. When not obsessing over design, typography and brand-related information, she can be found wandering and trespassing. Some of it is documented and can be found on Instagram @selk and some, thankfully, cannot.