Rebranding Back Market: Scaling Without Selling Out

Vianney Vaute / CCO, Back Market

It’s been over 4 years since Back Market made its first sale, in France, where our story began. That was a time when Thibaud, Quentin and I imagined ourselves to be a little bit like revolutionaries, the three of us trying to reimagine electronics and e-commerce in our small corner of Paris.

Our vision then was clear and simple: to create a true alternative to buying new electronics — and with the same stroke, to be part of the solution to the toxic electronic waste problem resulting from the breakneck pace of production and overconsumption that is encouraged by the electronics industry.

Thanks to a lot of hard work and a little luck, we’ve succeeded in bringing together hundreds of refurbished electronics sellers and have convinced almost 1.5 million customers to start taking refurbished products home. But paradoxically, our success brought with it a kind of uneasiness: would our big revolutionary idea end with big bucks and no soul?

Screw New.

While we were excited to raise the $48 million that would allow us to expand and bring our business to the US, intuitively we understood that this opportunity also carried with it a lot of risk. The greatest risk, to our minds, was that we would lose sight of why we started the enterprise in the first place.

Now, more than ever, we need to hold fast to our vision and the principles that we started with. To be clear, we aren’t here to eradicate New — there must always be room for innovation — but we do want to put New in its right place. That’s a tall order and the first thing we realized is that we can’t start a revolution without keeping it real. So to sum it up, we’ve condensed our vision and the spirit of our enterprise in two words:

The exercise of rebranding is our way of sounding the bugle long and strong in view of the long march and the struggles ahead. It is our way of reminding ourselves of who we are and a promise to ourselves (and our customers) that the heart of our project comes first and will never be sacrificed at the altar of “business”. And so without more ado, this is what that’s going to look like:

Backward is the way forward.

Goodbye sweet loop-the-loop. We’re more assertive than that, after all we’re here creating the “anti-next”. While manufacturers try to sell you on the next big thing we point you back. Literally. Back to Back Market. Back to devices that do the job perfectly well, even if they’re not brand new.

While our old font was friendly and unassuming, growing up has given us more confidence. It was time to look for a bold and elegant font. A font that says: we are the kind of people that look you in the eye and tell you things straight…but that (try to) keep it classy while we do. Meet GT Super. It’s pretty super, we think.

Since we are in the e-commerce business we welcome another more practical font to our arsenal. Clean, straightforward, and easy to read, like the UX we try to give our customers.

And while we’ve got strong convictions, our immoderate love for fun keeps us (and our products) young. We’ve chosen colors that are cheerful and strong, not twee, and that we think show off our special edge.

Finally, we love stickers. But mostly digital ones because they’re cheaper and better for the environment. Maybe you’re starting to see a theme here? Integrity. That’s the point.

Here are more examples of how we’re planning to bring this brand to life:

And we’ll end by putting it all together for you in 30 seconds to the tune of a little Daft Punk:

Some of you might be thinking, “Yikes, why should anyone care what font this unheard of brand is using?”

Well, we like to think that the way someone does anything is the way they do everything. You can see here that we’ve put a lot of thought into who we are and that let’s people know that we must be putting at least the same amount of thought into the needs and wants of our customers and soon-to-be customers.

If even our fonts our meaningful, think how much more our customers mean to us. Four years after we started we are keeping our soul alive, and declaring our love to the people that keep us going. For a startup that’s scaling fast and getting down to business, that’s pretty romantic. It’s also pretty necessary.

Lots of love to Koto, who skillfully helped us understand and transform ourselves. Like a therapist, but for brands. And thank you to Police Studio, who previously worked on our brand to get us to this point.

Screw New. Writing about our startup, planned obsolescence, electronic waste, etc. www.backmarket.com

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