REBRANDING INREACH SOLUTIONS
Inreach Solutions is a tiny company with a fiercely motivated hazel-eyed lady at its helm. The love and care she extends to clients are way beyond “just business,” which creates wholesome trust between the company and its customers. Passion and a playfulness were the most important feelings the director wanted to continue to convey while rebranding her company.
Their main product is SAM: a salesforce-like Content Management System (CMS) for foster/adoption agencies. The branding guidelines were sparse at best: they had a 90’s-look logo and some basic colors they used in the product. As a growing company, the need for a full design guide became clear as multiple employees struggled to stay brand-consistent.
I met with the director to understand what feelings the brand should continue to deliver. As a result, I redesigned their logo, chose a fitting typeface, created friendly icons for their new website, made a new letterhead & business card, among other marketing material. All of these guidelines are in the design guide and implemented at inreachsolutions.com.
Should we start from scratch?
When first assessing what direction to take the logo, the director presented me with this icon.
I drew a few sketches as potential alternatives.
We decided that the original image wasn’t a bad one, but needed a facelift that would be more modern and simple.
I opened the SVG of the blue figure in illustrator, using the pen tool to simplify the vector outline then adding a black fill. Next, I experimented with adding typography and color.
Narrowing the options
Image + text size and placement
We decided that because SAM was the most recognizable, it would need to be the largest text. However, I had to wriggle in the company’s name somehow.
Sometimes even the employees would shorten the company name to “InReach”. So which would it be? We’d have to stick with it, and stay consistent.
I twisted the text in many directions, ran preference tests with the employees and director, as well as friends with a good eye for design.
Many variations & preference tests later
We finally settled on this one, which leads the eye in a circular fashion, and provides good contrast between the text and vector image. This version also uses the typeface Montserrat we selected.
Typography was another element of the design guide. I printed out a variety of heading/body text typography variations, and set it out in front of the team.
Final Type Choice
Heading + Body
Debating the line-height, curvature, and readability, we picked out Montserrat as the heading type and Quattrocento Sans for body copy.
I kept and standardized them
SAM was already using a rainbow-like variation of 6 colors. The director wanted to keep it the same which worked well with the playful vibe of the company. The only problem was that these colors were constantly being sampled off this lovely swatch.
Define and add lighter hues
No one had taken the time to actually define what they were in Hex, RGB, or even a Pantone variation for print. In an effort to standardize these colors, I nailed down the exact color and put it in the design guide.
I also chose appropriate lighter versions and neutral black/grey/whites.
Improving the visual brand
The beginning of a design system
Along with the website, the company was also redoing their help pages. Since the software had many bells and whistles, the customers often had questions about how to do certain things. They already had an arsenal of articles, but the organization and look were not in accordance to this new design guide. I started with drawing custom icons for these pages, also to be used on the website and product as needed.
The icons I created were playful, semi-irregular, and followed the color palette I defined in the design guide.
I learned something important!
I did have one instance of utter failure when I attempted to design the front of a little notebook the director was to hand out as marketing swag. Misreading the direction to "do whatever", I thought the team wanted to give me creative freedom and make it my own project. Attempting to make something cute, I drew this little guy all over the page:
However, the response from the team was overwhelmingly “Wow, that’s creepy!” “Maybe stick with the words only?” “This does not feel like SAM!”
It was one day to the deadline so we didn’t have too much time to reconsider and ended up with what I would not consider my best work by a long shot.
Examples of the design guide in action
The best part of completing the guide was to see the work in action, and getting feedback that it is helping streamline content creation.
“The guide is so helpful, I check it daily for all my marketing materials I’m making, it’s so much easier to work through my materials now.”
- Director of Customer Success
How would I do it differently if I could go back?
- I would formalize the icons, text, and colors into a design system
- The logo should really only have one or two color versions allowed to keep the brand more homogenous.
- I used Adobe to create all the design assets. They have a library feature which I would utilize so the patterns are dynamic and easily updatable.
- I would educate all team members on how to best use and add to the deesign system.
- Keep the customer included on major decisions even if they tell you “do whatever”. Often, they don’t know what they want and need help with deciding what the next step is.