Six years since Akkroo entered the world, and we’re delighted to be able to take the wraps off our new brand.
We’ve been working with the talented team at WeLaunch, and will start to roll out our new look in the coming days and weeks across all of our product and marketing collateral.
It’s been a fun, collaborative experience. We started the project in the autumn with a brief to help us develop our messaging and brand positioning. In the process we received hundreds of valuable contributions from our customers and team.
Rationale for change
Since 2013, our brand has slowly and organically evolved whilst jogging along the path to product-market fit. We’ve built a great design team in house, however our work in the past few years has always had to “stretch to fit” all manner of different purposes and messages as we refined our core business value proposition.
Although we have maintained a set of core brand assets ever since we started, there hasn’t ever been a centrally organised, cohesive strategy for how we should develop it over a long period of time.
We did well at managing the assets for the most part. However, things like generating the “right” photography, or clarifying acceptable use of our logo usage were generally open to interpretation. This was fine when we were very small, but as we’ve added new people (and whole new functional areas of the business), closing the gaps started to become harder and things started to develop a life of their own.
So after six years, we feel we have a clearer understanding of the practical requirements for conducting our daily business effectively. This is why we’ve chosen now to bundle up what we know and get these creative challenges in check.
The truth is that it isn’t until you put your work into the hands of your team and customers that you really start to know what you need from your brand materials, much the same as with any product you develop.
“The truth is that it isn’t until you put your work into the hands of your team and customers that you really start to know what you need from your brand materials”
A core tenet for SaaS businesses is to “deliver new value, frequently”, and this has been central to our approach to this rebranding project.
The design process
We initially engaged WeLaunch to help us conduct a broad piece of market & customer research. At the end of this process, they formed a “data room” where we placed all this information around us. Over a day we sat in the midst of all this feedback and started to review the hundreds of findings.
In the days that followed we distilled this down then revisited our vision and mission; key documents Chris and I have maintained ever since we started the business.
We started to synthesise this output into core concepts, and from here started a creative design process around the brand identity. It was then we began to work on the aesthetics.
The brand visuals are all new, however they are rooted in elements which we consider core to “Akkroo”. In the remainder of this post, I’ll share some of the background to the decisions that shaped the new brand.
The logo, motif and word mark
The former Akkroo logomark consisted of our motif (a tablet superimposed with a checklist). The type was set in mid-weight, uppercase Futura. It worked pretty well in most digital formats, and the brand name could be recreated in a heartbeat on any Mac when you didn’t have the proper assets to hand. We never encountered much brand confusion with other apps, however the logo always suffered from having very little “ownable” about it. Although there was some attempt to describe to the purpose of our software in the motif, we always felt that it looked more like a representation of a to-do app than an Event Lead Capture solution.
The old mark was awkward to place alongside other assets. The rhythm of the double “O” when used alongside other more compressed characters meant it often felt imbalanced. We eventually developed a boxed icon version of the logo to use in situations where the rectangular format didn’t sit well in its environs.
The classic Futura typeface rendered poorly at very small sizes, as did the logo, and we never got as far as developing size-specific variants.
As a consequence of the types of problems outlined above, when we started to draft a new mark, we wanted to include the following considerations:
- A bolder, more distinct typeface that would scale down, and make it possible to render it in a wide range of sizes
- Maximise the value of interesting letter combinations such as double-K and double-O (famously, these kinds of letters are considered to carry extra value because of the impact they seem to make on english speakers)
- Create some path of continuity to avoid the need to change every aspect of the product, marketing, sales material and other collateral overnight. Having listened to how Deliveroo executed a total asset switch overnight when they relaunched their brand two years ago, it became apparent that the effort required would not be the best use of our time in this instance. For us, this was primarily a marketing led exercise, and although it would be desirable to have all the product match the marketing material soon, there was little to be gained in doing this in one complicated movement.
- Simplify elements of the motif, and remove those that we considered contrived, confusing or bland
- Make it more recognisable and distinct (in our market)
- Consider animation and allow us to develop a kinetic personality
- Consider classic design sensibilities (we want to avoid regular big redesign exercises)
- Deliver word marks and motifs (unlike Mastercard, we can’t rely on ubiquitous brand awareness quite yet!)
The result is a new, distinct Akkroo motif and word mark.
We started with the component forms of our old motif: the check mark and tablet. After some time playing around with shapes, it became apparent that if we wanted to maintain a degree of visual continuity between the old and new, one way could be to retain and develop these two elements into new, more relevant forms.
We pursued the idea of a lead entering an event: the rectangular slab of the tablet becoming an entrance (to an event), and the check mark transformed into an arrow, representing a lead moving into it.
We passed this initial idea to the designers at WeLaunch*, and they came back with a version that combined this concept with the idea of a more “ownable” graphic. They pulled together a version which mixed in first few letters of the brand name. What really appealed to us about this was that in spaces where we could only render the motif, it prompts you to recall the initial letters of the company name.
The use of white space to form the second “K” and the incorporation of the visual metaphor of the lead-in are not essential to understanding the whole form, and simply provide a little extra interest and detail for creative nerds (like myself).
We have always used sans-serif type faces, but at various times that could have been any combination of Helvetica, Freight Sans, Avenir, Knewave and Gotham. We’ve reduced this down, and now have two fonts to use in a small handful of weights, including a modified version of the headline font for the type mark. The custom “K” incorporates the arrow-like “lead in” motif which is present in our new stand alone logotype.
Photography & illustrative artwork
Ever since we started, generating or finding great contextual photography has always been a challenge for us. Trade shows and events are often raised-stress moments in our customers’ calendars, and often we have no control over the lighting or environment. Recreating this type of environment would be eye-wateringly expensive too, so WeLaunch worked with us to develop a brand new style that allows us to bypass these challenges by combining illustration with our own portrait photography. We’re really happy with the flexibility this now affords us. We can more easily demonstrate how we bring value to a customer interested in replacing their tired, broken and disconnected lead capture efforts when they’re exhibiting.
In addition, by enlarging our motif and cropping it, combining it with our new illustrative style, and applying new combinations of the colour palette, we’ve now also got a much more distinct base to build all our future marketing assets on.
We’ve not departed too far from our previous palate, which means we can deftly move to the new look without having to spend a considerable amount of time refactoring the product and existing physical assets. In time we intend to evolve the palette further as resources allow, but in the first instance as we roll out the new assets, this will be one constant that helps us transition without too much of an environmental impact (like reupholstering all the furniture, for example).
The new brand is going live with the launch of our marketing website first, with only minor modifications required inside our products. In time we will make a more fundamental departure from the current look and feel.
By thinking about a system that allows us to transition colour palettes over a longer period gives us the luxury of reduced stress on the whole organisation to change everything in one short moment.
We’re delighted to finally unveil the new look, and we hope you grow to like it too. The process has delivered to us a whole suite of all-new, “ownable” materials and messages that we’re proud to attach the Akkroo name to, and which addresses so many of the practical challenges we’ve worked around as the business has grown.
I want to close this with a big thank you to our team — Mike, Sandro, Stef, Emily, Pip and Alan — and the team at WeLaunch — Stuart, Paul, Dan & Jemma — we couldn’t have achieved this without you, it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable collaboration.
*I’d like to specifically thank Dan and Stuart at WeLaunch here who entertained this creative approach. In my view, it was risky (if not controversial) to let the client engage with them in what mostly amounted to a game of Photoshop Tennis. The fact they trusted us to work with them this way was one of the highlights of the whole process and a testament to their open mindedness. Ultimately others will judge the outcome, however personally I feel it was this spirit of collaboration that allowed us to craft something jointly which satisfies our business objectives and delivers a well formed outcome.