It was well back in 2004, when Shark first developed the branding for an innovative new startup based in Montreal, Canada. Under the leadership of Marc Poirier, Acquisio grew into a global search and digital technology services powerhouse, and a decade later, Shark was requested to revisit the company's branding and marketing. What follows is a quick recap and some insight into a branding agency's strategic process which might serve as a template to approach and manage your company's branding and marketing challenges.
BRANDING GOALS - When clients initiate new branding, normally by detailing their business goals and vision, we like to simplify the discussion with some ground rules and goals for successful branding.
Perceiving a difference - Good branding begins with a focus on developing a distinct image in a marketplace. Separating oneself (or company) from the competition - both visually and conceptually - is how consumers can distinguish and hold onto a brand image.
Perceiving Value - While good branding means people can clearly differentiate a name, product or service, great branding is about infusing a sense of perceived value into a brand. With great branding, people perceive a difference and they perceive value which can create brand loyalty, shift products from commodities to premiums and so forth. But before any of the rebranding process could begin for Acquisio, some pressing "11th hour" cleanup of the company's looming Summit provided a preview of things to come and underscores marketing that imparts a sense of value.
BRAND STRATEGY - Good branding agencies generally try to install a singular and objective core strategy to drive the branding process. With Acquisio, it was clear that the company’s marketing typically listed numerous advantages and benefits but was rarely tied to any consistent idea about Acqusio itself. In that list, however, we did uncover one attribute that seems to have more immediate value: Acquisio offered "The Fastest Optimization Algorithm on the Market.” The idea of speed in search and digital obviously had potential as a positioning strategy. We then circulated an article to Acquisio management from Fast Company which noted, "Speed Will Triumph ... The best soccer teams in the world emphasize pace of play over perfection. They recognize that keeping the ball moving quickly is better than waiting and trying to make the ideal pass."
Logo - With speed in mind, the logo was first up for review. Originally designed in 2004 by Peter Jacobs, Shark's Creative Director, the Acquisio logo was composed of three simple bars stacked one over each other. It was an elegant and simple signature that actually pre-dated the same universal “hamburger” logo utilized by responsive websites worldwide. With a design strategy based on “evolution” rather than “revolution,” we preserved much of the Acquisio logo’s original form but modified it into a new, and "faster" look.
DESIGN SYSTEM - A design system is kind of like a brand manager’s tool set. In it you will find a logo, a limited number of fonts, a color palette, specs for layout, the use of images, and pretty much everything that goes in to ensuring a consistent and well integrated brand image. The new Acquisio design system driven by the "speed" strategy was developed simultaneously in brand ads, websites, digital ads and more.
BRAND ARCHITECTURE -To further the strength and consistency of the brand across current and future products and services, Shark developed the brand architecture for naming and branding various sub-brands and service categories. By isolating ACQ in the Acquisio name, we designed an elegant method for connecting Acquisio’s five primary Service Marks: ACQOptimze, ACQReporting, ACQSearch, ACQLocal, ACQPromote.
BRAND STANDARDS - By defining the parameters for typography, color palette, layout, image use, and more, a brand manual provides companies with an organized set of operating instructions for managing the brand in a variety of applications. We created Aquisio's Brand Guidelines to convey the new, integrated vision for the brand, and formatted it in an easy-to-use booklet detailing approved use of typography, color palette, layout, image use, etc. - Acquisio's Design System.
In the end, we sometimes say "it's all about the T." T-shirts are a wonderful test of all things branding - logos, attitude, color, typography, and more. When people willingly wear the symbols or statements of a company they are in effect, validating the merits of the brand. For Acquisio’s first T-shirt, we integrated multiple branding elements into a cool and contemporary expression of the Acquisio’s brand, personality, and positioning.