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Why Branding Matters (i.e., why we put a unicorn on a unicycle)

Riikka Söderlund Dec 11, 2019 12:07:19 PM

We're all seeing (and enjoying) many B2C brands taking a playful approach, while B2B companies are still cautious with their branding in fear of losing credibility. At Smartly.io, however, we believe that B2C and B2B have quite a few things in common: a P2P approach and the fact that everyone enjoys a brand that sparks a little joy. A bold and visual brand is a competitive advantage for most companies - also for B2B SaaS companies.

It All Starts with Credibility

A new illustration or a line of copy does not a brand make. We want to know the emotions our brand evokes and the actions they inspire.

For a company that helps advertisers manage their million-dollar budgets and improve their social advertising, trust becomes a significant factor in the business equation. As a brand needs to convey trust, many companies consider playful too risky.

We at Smartly.io wanted, of course, to do things differently, and as we work with the world's leading advertisers and marketers, the bar was set high. We were on a mission to prove that a vivid brand with joyous illustrations is not counterintuitive to credibility, but quite the contrary. 

We have built our brand on two of our core values: always think customers' first and build the best workplace for all Smartlies. Hence, our colors, illustrations, style, and tone of voice reflect our culture and people.  We are not colorful only to differentiate ourselves, but to show love to our customers and employees. 

However, the true test of a brand is the ability to test its limits, stretch the conventions, and innovate every step of the way. All this, while maintaining customers' trust - and increasing their happiness and engagement along the way.

When all branding activities become more easily measured, creatives need to adapt to all the technical advantages instead of being scared of them. Creativity never goes out of fashion, and computers aren't as creative as you! 

 

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Add a Hefty Dose of Differentiation

Naturally, there is a marketing element behind the new branding as well. We need to differentiate ourselves in a crowded market and show, not only tell, that we do things differently. After all, #workingsmartly and maximizing learning are two of the other key values that we live by - and something we wanted to embody that into our design as well. The values mean to boldly test and try new things.

In a world that is over-saturated with visuals, it is difficult to stand out. Our distinctive visual elements are bold and fun - and together with our copy, make our brand. The visual team moved mountains in creating our signature illustrations that invite you to our imaginary world, while our content team has honed the skill of making industry terms such as predictive budget allocation sound fun and sexy. 

As an in-house creative, you can see the whole life cycle and long term effect of your work and make sure that the brand distributes well. Although you are a part of the brand and live and breath it every day, remember to keep your eyes open and try to find your space in the industry.

By working in social media advertising with some of the world's leading brands, we've learned a thing or two about grabbing peoples' attention. The shift to digital experiences and design as a service has been shaking the creative talent pool - especially as startups appreciate good design and want to have in-house creative teams.

 

jeremy

 

Always Stay True to Yourself

We want our brand to reflect our culture. Authenticity was surprisingly easy to maintain, as the company culture is well documented and genuinely strong in all of our offices around the globe.

At some point, we realized that updating the brand became a work of interpretation: it brought to life what already exists, put into words how we already speak, and built experiences to customers and employees that they already expect from us. 

We are fortunate enough to work in a company that trusts its employees by default. The trust gives incredible freedom to the actual design process and boosts our courage to color outside the lines - where the magic happens.

Then Give It to the Team

The true test of our new branding is only about to start. We've shipped out the first assets, updated the first digital touchpoints, transformed the first batch of materials at the offices, and the job is only about to begin.

As #feedback is an integral part of our culture, it will help us continue to build our branding. A brand guideline is a living creature, not a static document that keeps evolving. We have a PDF for everyone who wants it - what we want in return is your feedback.


Want to be part of our international growth? Browse career opportunities in our offices around the world.

Author
Riikka Söderlund

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