An intimate look at rebranding an agency: “Sometimes you need to let go of control”
Sometimes letting go of control is hard - especially when that’s control of a brand that you have co-created, worked hard to establish and nurtured for seven years.
Mashbo's rebranding process
Back in 2011 myself, Steve Todd and Liam Potter co-founded Mashbo. We were a young web development agency exploring its craft and playing with new technology.
But seven years on we’ve expanded our team and client base and we have a clearly defined offer, providing consultancy and using new and emerging technology to deliver transformational digital solutions that improve efficiency, capability, profitability and productivity of global businesses.
Quite simply, we realised that we had grown up and although elements were still relevant our brand no longer really reflected who we are and what we do.
We decided it was time for our first ever rebrand and that to do that we needed to let go of control. We’ve developed a talented and trusted team that embodies all of our core values, so why wouldn’t we want them to lead the creation of the brand that they are all ambassadors of?
Reflecting the brand
The main objective of the rebrand project was to evolve our visual identity in line with our more defined and software development-focused, reflect the maturity of our company and allow our team to become co-creators and custodians of our brand, rather than simply advocates and ambassadors.
To ensure this happened we handed the challenge of rebranding the consultancy in the hands of our new designer, Charlie Davies, who joined the team in April 2018 - his first ever design role following a career change.
This may have been perceived as a risk, the emotional attachment myself and my co-founders Liam and Steve have to our original brand is so strong. It is intertwined with our personalities and the sense of fun and discovery that we shared as we set out in business together.
To evolve we had to completely let go of our roles as brand custodians, which in itself is aligned with our ethos of using our people in the right way and trusting people’s talent and expertise, even if it doesn’t come from a traditional background.
Charlie was inspired by the brand’s journey from fledgeling Liverpool start-up to the established software development consultancy it is today. He also extensively researched the online presence of national and global counterparts that we want to be positioned alongside, as well as looking at offline design in places less obviously connected to the tech sector, such as packaging design.
The project was truly collaborative, with Charlie - a former student of Shillington Design School in Manchester - speaking to all team members about what it means to work at Mashbo and the type of work that the company does, as well as future ambitions.
What emerged from these discussions were several iterations a new logo echoing Steven Johnson’s observations and finding the ‘intersection between the mechanical and the playful’ with better defined edges and more structure, as well as moodboards and initial concepts for three workable designs, which were displayed at our office for two weeks for team members to consider and highlight their first and second preferences.
A new direction
The biggest challenge we faced as co-founders was simply that the rebrand didn’t evolve in the way that we expected. The team took us in a different direction and fighting the urge to intervene was tricky after so many years of brand ownership.
A more practical challenge was the selection of Fatfrank as the typeface in the logo, which took a lot of editing to get it to a place we were happy with, even changing its double story ‘a’ to a bespoke single story ‘a’.
Having also settled on this as a header font too, we found late on in the process that a few letters didn’t quite fit with the new brand, so we swapped it for Campton which complements the logo nicely.
Although it required a lot of sitting on our hands, I’m glad we didn’t stick our oar in, as the final result has more than exceeded our expectations. We’ve had exceptionally positive responses from peers and we are already finding that new and potential clients gain a clearer understanding of what we do from our new identity.
We now have a more mature colour palette and a new logo that features strongly defined edges and geometric structure - a departure from the loose brush stroke and playful use of the font ‘Rhino’ that we used in the company’s original design.
It really does communicate that Mashbo now knows what it is and is comfortable in its own identity, it exudes confidence about what we can offer to clients and the transformational impact we can have.
The playfulness and appetite for exploration and learning is still there, it’s just now far more focused and representative of our collective experience.
Most importantly it reflects the vision and personalities of our whole team. It’s not just about the three of us now!
Gavin Sherratt, managing director, Mashbo
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