Value of a Strong Brand, Teads’ Case Study

As sharing experience is priceless for me, I’m happy to tell you about a creative case study: the Teads brand creation.
It may help you if you are starting from zero, or just want concrete feedback in order to have fresh ideas.

What is the benefit and impact in having a strong brand?
Everybody knows that it’s vital to have a strong brand for your company, but few people think ahead about if it really makes sense to invest time in it.
And rare are the people who truly understand what a brand’s value is and how it can be part of a company’s success.

Today you can easily find many articles on “building a strong brand” or “characteristics of a strong brand”.

In a nutshell, the best values are:
A strong brand commands premium services or products
Premium creates a perception of quality and trust, and widens the gap with competitors
Partners, clients and competitors will be inspired by your brand

A strong brand is more than just having a fancy logo.
The value of a strong brand is to design everything in the premium way.
People have to be entirely committed to this or it sounds fake.
From the business card you give to a prospect to the presentation you share by email, from your website to your back-office, from your behavior with your team and your clients, from your merchandise and offices … everything in the premium way.
Your name, color, logo, your brand history will be the flagship of everything which represents your venture.

The value of a strong brand
is to design everything in the premium way.

Since 2004, I have co-founded 2 startups, Airtist from 2004 to 2010 and Teads from 2010 until today. For both brands all aspects were critical and changed the perspective of the business.
In Teads’ case, here is my creative process.

Don’t hesitate to share this article with your company, CEO, general manager, designers and to every person who is sensitive to brand and design, because… design is everywhere and everything.

And, oh! by the way… in case you don’t know Teads www.teads.tv
On June 2017, Teads is a +500 people company, with 28 offices in 21 countries, we reach 1.2 billion users per month.
We were just acquired by the Altice group in a $307M deal.
> Teads.tv who we are, our products, careers page (we are hiring!)
> Watch our company film presentation (video), our recent deal with Altice (video)… and our last Teads Summit in Phuket ;-) (video)

1. Storytelling of your brand

First of all, in order to build your identity you need to have identified your market and your positioning within. Know the competitors and study the latest technology.
A brand, a company, a new product always begin with a story, create yours and the flow of your storytelling will come easily.

In Teads case our mission was always to build a solution allowing users to access content after viewing digital advertising.
Our Teads’ storytelling was to offer free access to digital content after giving a few seconds of our time by watching an advertisement. Back in 2010 we called it the “sponsored nano-payment”… since then it has evolved and focused on video formats known as “oustream” (a term which we created, different from “instream”, mostly known with the pre-roll video format).

To put it in context, in 2010:

  • Typical online payment (credit card, paypal) for all purchases over $5.
  • Micro-payment by payable text (SMS) for services between $1 and $5 (e.g online gaming, software, subscription).
  • And, for all services under $1 the user didn’t want to use his credit card or send a payable text => This was the segment of the market which we were interested in.

The problem was clearly identified, giving value via advertising to digital content under $1. The idea was to invite the user to watch an advertisement in order to get to the content, and the publisher is paid by the ad.

Teads came to light with its first B2B product via viewable advertising.
A short time later the product evolved with a focus on video advertising in press articles.
The product is inRead, the reference in the video advertising market.
More informations about the inRead:
> inRead presentation on www.teads.tv
> Slate Begins Selling Teads’ “inRead” Video Ads
> Teads launches inRead everywhere for viewable video ads

Our original core message was: allow free access to certain digital content while giving a bit of time to watch an ad, and at the same time allowing publishers to monetise certain digital content thanks to an innovative video advertising solution.

Our journey was centered around solving this clearly defined problem and concentrated on our mission and not straying from it course.
At this point we were committed in this mission, with a story and a desire to change the game.

Then, the only thing left to do (from a design viewpoint of course…) was to find a brand identity.

2. The name

The first real impression, the first contact with your clients, employees, partners… always start with the name. For me choosing a great name is based on 3 critical points: short, timeless and global.

Short
Best company names have to be short: 4 to 7 letters is the Graal.
Shorter is always better.

Timeless
Don’t follow name trends… having a timeless name is the best because you can’t imagine where your business will evolve in the coming years.
You can create a trend with a brand new name (e.g instagram, youtube)… but don’t follow the hype!

Global
You have to think about your brand which you will be proud of for the future and which will be accepted in different countries.
Be short, timeless and unique is critical.
Think big, very big. Be global.

Also, you have to find a name that can be understood and spelt by everybody in the world (no puns). If Americans are able to spell your name and don’t find it ridiculous or with a weird meaning, then it’s a good start.
If you find a good name, try it in all major languages, it’s mandatory to avoid any ridiculous or strange meaning.

The name of your company should also be driven by the dot com domain availability, or other that does the job, such as .tv (teads.tv), .io .co etc. or exotic GTLD that will end your name such as: instragr.am for example.

In Teads case, in 2010 I was looking for a short name that included the word “ad” or “ads” and something cool before or after, then I listed on a paper all my ideas.
I listed all words related to advertising, technology, payment, time and everyday objects.
Then I had different groups of words and I started to connect dots and the words.
And when I found interesting names, I checked if the .com domain or other interesting domains were available.
After days of research, I found an interesting analogy of the fact of having to wait by watching an advertising in order to get to a digital content.
That moment when you are taking time was like taking time to drink a cup of tea.
The first idea was here, tea + ads = teaads
Originally the company name was teaads, but because shorter is always better, I removed an “A” to only teads.

And when you have the typical question “Hey! what does your company’s name mean?” …you have to find the perfect and short story or a great punchline!
In teads case, the official meaning is: Technology for Advertising
As we are a tech-company, it’s a perfect match with our DNA as a technology-first company.

From my experience, finding a name is not easy and takes days and weeks, and sometime it takes months.
You will have to find and try dozens and hundreds of ideas and names.
Try all of them, present them to your your close friends.
Sincere feedback is priceless in your goal to create the brand you will be proud of.

Some tools are really cool to generate names based on available web domains (.com …) the best one I often used is Namestation.

3. The logo design

After the name, the logo is the most critical point, because in only 1 second you will make the difference, mark minds, or not.

You can live with an ugly name and horrible logo and do great business… but you will often start with a handicap. Really.

A simple, powerful and timeless logo will do on its own a big part of the job.
It’s important to invest in it. If you are not a creative guy then trust your designer.

As with a name, your logo has to be simple, timeless and has to be ready for potentially big business. Be ambitious in your endeavours, be ambitious in how you imagine your logo design as a multiple million-dollar company, a unicorn, or more.

In the global logo trend, you have 3 ways to create it:

LogoType or WordMark Type. 
Example with Coca-Cola, Google, Skype, Sony, Ebay
Icon or symbol.
Example Apple, Android, Rolling Stone, Nike, WWF, Shell, Microsoft
Combinaison mark.
Example Paramont, Perrier, Jaguar, Atari, Starbucks Coffee, McDonalds

With this in mind, here is how I ran Teads logos with in mind the different ways I wanted to be perceived by people we work with.

Teads’ logo had 3 lives, the first one for the first weeks, an intermediate version and the final one.

Starter version
Summer 2010 to winter 2010
First Teads logo

At the very beginning, because the goal was to start quickly a running prototype to start the business (read the Teads story), so I created one quickly. First with 2 AA, for “teaads” and because shorter is always better, just “teads”.
There is a beginning to everything ;-)

Intermediate version
Winter 2010 to 2012
Teads logo, 2010 to 2012

First serious part, I started to work on a better logo with as a goal to show that at Teads:

  • we are trustworthy (squared and strong logotype)
  • we are a serious tech company (dark shaded blue)
  • we are specialists and take care of detail (design detail in logo)

With this in mind, the Teads logo had to be mostly squared, with strong letters, serious dark color (blue for technology).
I added a little design detail which most people don’t see until you turn your head 90° and see the teacup in the A. It was a wink with the idea of “That moment when you are taking time was like taking time to drink a cup of tea”.
This is the type of detail you find also in logos such Carrefour or Toblerone.
I worked almost 2 months on it from the first idea to the final result, in addition to all other business, design and marketing things I managed.

Final version
2012 until today
Current Teads logo (2017)

Summer 2012 Teads company had already many clients, we attracted our first investors (business angels), the team started to grow and we proved in the advertising market that we were pushing the innovation line!
We had met our goal to prove that we were a trustworthy ad tech specialist company, and at this time we were preparing our A serie round… perfect timing to flip the table, make a big impression and continue go into a better and smarter way.

So, the ideas with a new logo were:

  • Show a new face of the company
  • Show we are a cool tech company
  • Having a timeless logo
  • Having a simple logo to be loved everywhere, like a clothing brand

About the web-domain, because the .com wasn’t available we thought of using .tv domain. It was a good match with our goal: bring back TV advertising into digital content.

At this period in 2012, because it was no longer possible for me to invest almost 2 or 3 months of my time on a logo creation, I worked with a talented French designer, Sébastien Joncour Jonk.fr, that we discovered thru a design contest.
His design approach matched perfectly with our brief and design mindset.
After hundreds of tests and fine tunings we finished our masterpiece:

  • Timeless logo
    Hand-drawn style. At this period, Vimeo and Coca-Cola were good inspirations
  • Cool tech company
    The hand-drawn style created a lightness and movement and gave envy appropriate the logo, which can be worn on a polo shirt, on a sport bag and more.
  • Simple logo
    A logo that a child could draw. A logo in black that can be recognizable, tiny or big.
  • New face of the company
    The mix with hand-drawn + the .tv blue bubble. Keep our traditional color, blue, perfect for technology

When we presented this new logo to the team, for some it was a hit, for others it was too original and maybe not serious enough.
And because designs must be imposed on us, we were proud and fully committed to that atypical and fresh new brand identity.

4.Colors & fonts

Teads colors
Regarding the fact that we are an ad tech company, the blue color was mandatory for us.
As It was important for us to show our demand for quality, we had to avoid any electric or flashy color.
Then was set up a color guidelines based on different blues, from a gray navy blue, to a light sky blue (the one in Teads bubble).
The main color used is the gray navy blue to keep a minimalist color positioning.

Alternative colors were chosen with a style between “flat color” mixed with grey. At this period I used many times the free online tool: Paletton the color scheme for designers.

As a reminder, here are the different meanings of color for a logo:

RED Energy, heat, action, passion
ORANGE Social, adventure, communication, entertainment, teenagers
YELLOW Optimism, happiness, friendship
GREEN Nature, ethic
BLUE Security, Professionalism, technology, success, trust, power, intelligence
PURPLE Creation, imagination, elegance, luxury
PINK Love, smart,
BLACK Strength, modern,
BROWN Nature, peace, earth, simplicity
GREY Neutral, respect, stability, humble

Of course it’s not necessary to respect exactly these meanings and may be interesting to differentiate yourself with an unexpected color.

Teads fonts
About the logo, it’s a mix of Nabu pro and some personalised design, especially with the T.
In order to keep the logo unique, that font design is dedicated only for the logo, as much as possible… or our communication will look like ads for a “surf trip” or a “beach club” ;)

About the main font used for our documentation, the website and everywhere, we used different ones:

  • First: Helvetica Neue, as the best simple, minimalist and design font and also the most known for design. Used also by Apple
  • Secondly: Lato, as we had technical issues with the compatibility of helvetica we decided to chose the Google webfont. That font is really close to Helvetica and really smart and minimalist… with some unique detail.
  • Thirdly: We come back to Helvetica Neue
    Mmm… how to not love Helvetica, no ? ;)
  • Fourthly and finally: We testing Roboto which is great for all online compatibility and a great design and minimalist font.

5. Value positioning, culture and messaging statements

Now we have a story, a brand with a name, a logo and colors, the next step is to define its clear values and messaging statements that will complete your brand vision.

At Teads here is our positioning:
Mission and signature are: Reinventing digital advertising

Our main values in advertising market are: We believe in sustainable advertising, we believe in brand safety and work for better ads.

Involving your team and your clients with your company values is priceless.
Our 10 Teads values are:

Innovation
Elegance
Passion
Love Media
Dedication to Clients
Hard Work
Entrepreneurship
Trust
Team Spirit
Playing to Win

More details on our website https://teads.tv/teads-values

By assuming our positioning and our company values, it creates strong trust with your clients and partners.
Quickly with the Teads new brand design approach in 2012 we created that trusting relationship in our business which allowed us to grow faster.
The premium brand identity helped to accelerate the growth and to catch opportunities.

Teads is recognized as being a premium product from A to Z on the market:

  • Most premium medias works with us such as Time inc, Forbes, Le Monde, The Guardian and more.
  • Most premium brands trust us and use our solutions such as Cartier, LVMH, Breitling, Lacoste, Air France, Microsoft, Samsung and more.

Our brand identity reflects all these points: Premium, Innovative and respectful

Communicate like a luxury brand
Part of Teads’ brand differentiation is to use codes of luxury.
It means attaching particular importance to detail for everything.
Find innovative design and brand new ideas in everything, such as your website, documentation, prints, events, videos… absolutely everything.
Detail is everything in design.
After that, if a global luxury brand tells you after a meeting that they would love to have the same level of design… then you won!

Your brand, your team
A strong brand can be created by one person, but can’t grow and scale alone.
One of the keys to the success of strong brands is to be supported and developed by a total design team with people fully dedicated to creating everything in a premium way.
In Teads’ case, we succeeded with a global and experienced design team (meet the A-team here), who are the best spokespeople, to spread the premium mindset around them.
Biggest risk with a global brand is to have it diluted with time and in different countries. That’s why having talented and trustworthy creative people is the key for a brand expansion.

Go faster, take risks, always innovate
As we are a technology company, we have a clear vision of the future because we are the builder, the game changer. That’s why a strong brand empowers everything you do and that will entice people to join your mission.
Innovate, take risks, know when you are wrong, assume your positioning and spread the creativity and that will always set your brand into a respectful and premium way.
With everything we created at Teads so far, I can tell you that with a strong brand, everything becomes possible. Strong brand makes your company look bigger, it builds credibility and trust and allows you to reach new peaks.

Premium design is not a goal to target but a path to chose

Raise your standards
Because premium design is not a goal to target but a path to chose, we must always reinvent and challenge ourselves.

By reinventing ourselves we also work with the best, the best designers committed to the same path of premium. The best way to develop your brand in the years to come and in different countries is to build a design team wisely with the most talented people, and give them the freedom to imagine and create again and again.
Design research is mandatory, if we skimp on it our work suffers.
It is vital to invest in research with the entire design team; the key is to always innovate, and it takes time.

So, even if the market is challenging and moving fast, you will always win the game by keeping this mindset: Do everything in a premium way.


Next step?

Take action, it’s just the beginning.
Of course, it’s just the beginning of the game, because a strong brand must live daily, so you have now to establish all marketing strategies, implement deeply your brand in all departments of your company, such as the technology team, sales team, marketing team, and more.

Give life to your brand with external and internal communications (films, goodies, events, summits…).

Share your passion and love for great design and beautiful things, because premium must be in every path you take.
And there, if you are authentic and respectful, taking risks and always innovating, everybody will trust your brand and your team.

You have to always challenge yourself and refine every aspect of your brand. And never forget that strong design is inseparable from design research.
The key to innovation is working with the best designers and trusting them with their foolish ideas and creativity. Always think outside of the box.

Keep in mind that now the challenges for your brand after a successful set-up and launch are:

  • Having uniform execution if you are working in different countries and territories
  • Investing in people on your team, hiring and working with the best, in order to spread the “design thinking” and keeping everything premium.
  • Avoiding dilution of your brand over the coming months and years.

A brand is like a garden you have to take care of it everyday.

And now, don’t forget your brand is not the real purpose of your company, it’s just your best “wingman” to boost your business, innovate in your market and get the trust of your clients.

Strongest brands are ones in motion with their environment.
Having a premium or luxury brand is not enough today.
You have to create everywhere and imagine creative business solutions, creative innovation, creative human relationships… creativity and design are everywhere in today’s world.

We are coming back to creativity taking center stage
in all critical business units

Business is not only for sales reps,
Innovation is not only for engineers,
We are coming back to creativity taking center stage in all critical business units: (Data + UX + Business) x Design = Strong Brand

Having a strong brand will greatly increase your business and opportunities.
Having a strong brand will raise your standards in everything and will make you and your team more challenging and “hungry”.
That’s the spirit of the premium way.


If you have any feedback or want to talk about your own brand case study, just contact me.
Teads brand resources page: Go to Teads brand page
Teads brand Guidelines: Download
We are hiring at Teads (New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Montpellier…) Current Job Openings at Teads

Teads sport bags
The famous limited edition IceTeads ;)
Teads logo in Montpellier (France) office
Teads water bottle at Cannes Lions
Teads glasses at Cannes Lions
Teads glasses
Teads flip flops!
One of the great Teads polo — Say hi to Jack Stones ;)
Big Teads mug for our amazing tech team — Say hi to Jean-Baptiste Pettit ;)
Teads banner at Cannes Lions
Teads espadrilles!
Teads notebook and cup
Teads logo, London office
Teads logo, London office
Teads at Dmexco
Teads at Dmexco
Teads sportbag
Teads mug, London office
Teads, outstream video summit Paris
Teads, outstream video summit Brazil
Teads, outstream video summit Brazil
Teads Cannes Lions
Teads caps and sunglasses, Cannes Lions
Teads New York office

More Teads photos on Flickr