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Creating an ‘uncorporate’ brand

Escape the City
Apr 15, 2016 · 4 min read

Escape the City was founded based on a deeply-felt need to shake things up. The familiar corporate path — well-worn by the trudging steps of thousands of tired, dragging feet — was proving less than exciting for founders Dom and Rob. The goal was simple: they wanted to do something different, and to help others to do the same.

When Rob emailed Dom an image of an ‘Esc’ key running off the keyboard, the earliest version of the Escape brand was conceived. When they sent the first ‘Top 10 Exciting Opportunities’ newsletter to a list of their friends and colleagues, they had no idea that what they started would turn into a global movement. Six years and 250,000 subscribers later, Escape has found itself smack bang in the middle of a work revolution.

This is a movement first and a business second — and it’s one that’s powered by people. Our recent products (namely, Tribes) have been built to harness community as the foundation for meaningful change. It was time our visual identity moved away from its ‘tech startup’ roots to embody this spirit.

With that in mind, updating our brand became about changing much more than the look and feel: it needed to function altogether differently. We wanted to stretch how a brand can operate, how it can be used, and what it can represent for those who are part of it. No small task. We enlisted the help of our friends and branding experts at Article to bring our ideas to life.

Introducing: the ‘uncorporate’ identity

While we wanted to bring a bit of consistency and coherence to our brand, we also wanted to make a point of representing everything that ‘corporate’ isn’t and everything we think ‘different’ is:

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We never want to play by the same rules as the big dogs. We’ve experimented with our colours, hand-drawn our lines, and made it easy for everyone to make their own version (see below). This is a living, moving, doing brand — not something static that lives on a page.

Inspired by grassroots movements all over the world, this is a brand that can be picked up, played with and plastered anywhere you like. There’s a reason it’s so simple, and comes in one piece. It’s designed with the intention that anyone can make their own Escape logo — it’s made to be handmade, not to be perfect. Draw it, make it, cut it out, scribble it. Graffiti it everywhere, especially if it’s on your soon-to-be-escaped-from corporate cubicle desk. If you see it somewhere, you’ll know someone who thinks like you do has been there.

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The original Escape Key was a representation of your escape route — a button to hit for a way out. The Escape Window is an evolution of this: a simplified outline of the Escape Key, that functions as a frame for your individual ‘escape’ experience. It’s still your escape route, but now you can use it to tell your story. However your version of ‘doing something different’ plays out.

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What’s next?

As we embark on taking Escape international by growing Tribes in countries all around the world, we’re proud to represent ourselves as the community organisation that, at our core, we’ve always felt ourselves to be. This is about much more than what our logo looks like, or having fun new colours on our website. It’s about being an organisation that everyone can feel part of, and use to connect with other people who are thinking differently.

Which is why, alongside this step forward for our visual brand, we’re excited to announce that plans are afoot for Tribes to be landing in:

New York
Hong Kong.

And — wherever you are in the world — you can now access the core lessons from our Tribe programmes via our free email series (here); and connect with escapees’ lessons learned and challenges faced on our podcast Tribe Tales.

Doing something different isn’t the privilege of a rare few. We’re going to keep spreading the word, connecting people, and developing our products to help build the world we want to see — one where everyone does work they don’t want to escape from.

The revolution is here to stay.

Join us.

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