Gretta — sneak a peek at our new branding!

“We’ve gotta have a name, right?”

“Yeah, and let’s make sure the domain is available!”

That’s about the level of sophistication that we had time for back in the days when we decided on Signl.fm.

We’ve come a long way since then. In the last two years, we’ve gone from running countless experiments around spoken word audio to becoming part of the Matter.vc seven cohort and shipping the prototype of a new type of podcast experience that we think will revolutionize the way we interact with spoken word audio:

A social podcatcher that lets you search, navigate and share podcasts as if they were text.

While our work has always been at the forefront of the industry, our own brand has stayed on the backburner. No surprise that we found ourselves having difficulties with describing who we are as a team, and how we want to be seen by the world. On top of that, issues with the name Signl.fm emerged (shout out to signal.org) and — how do you even start to explain the spelling of Signl.fm?

It was time for a re-brand.

Brand name

With still far too little time at our hands, we asked our favourite creative agency SmashLab for help.

We decided on an ‘empty vessel approach’ i.e. we looked for a brand name that evokes no or only very vague associations so that the user can’t necessarily derive meaning from it. We want the user’s experience of what we do as a company define what our brand name stands for— not the other way around. Taking this approach allows us to do fully own our brand name without having to compete against any pre-existing associations (that are super hard to overcome).

We casually started brainstorming and playing around with ideas. Turned out that it’s kinda hard to agree on a brand name if e.g. excitement for the name is not a criteria (because it’s a pre-existing association). We needed other decision making criteria.

In order to be able to set ourselves apart in the crowded podcasting space with a brand name that is functionally viable, we agreed on the following:

· Our brand needs to be very different from existing or potential competitors

· easy to remember and share

· allow anybody to identify themselves as a member of the community

· easy to pronounce by native speakers of the most popular languages

· available to be registered as marks and company names

· have a good top-level domain name available

At some point, our brainstorming steered towards people’s names and the suggestion ‘Gretta’. The name immediately elicited a strong, emotional response, somewhere between cautiousness, wonder and question marks. Not bad for a start: “Awesome names always sound weird at the beginning” — Eric (SmashLab)

That’s where our selection criteria came in. Turns out, the name has many of the characteristics that we were looking for. It’s very different from everything else in the space. You can easily say it. People can spell it and it has good phonetics. It also ties well with the tag line “Gretta loves podcast” which seems to be a very efficient use of language since it has the name, the community spirit and what we do all in three words. Last but not least, the domain Gretta.com was available at a reasonable cost.

Once people have heard a name for about 10 times, they get to like it. The same was true for us with Gretta.

Visual design

Having selected our brand, the next step was to translate who we are and how we want to be seen into visible assets.

Early conceptual exploration of the playful and idiosyncratic imagery that became the Gretta brand signature

We believe that listening to each other is more important than ever and we are dedicated to creating the type of outspoken and inclusive community that is necessary for this to happen. Gretta is meant to be an amplifier for the nuggets within this huge world of diverse content that podcasting is. In fact, podcasting seems to be one of the last places on the web where it feels like there’s a lot of indie stuff happening and building a platform that allows for good content to surface from this wealth of content is at the core of what we’re about.

“We believe that listening to each other is more important than ever. We are dedicated to creating the type of outspoken and inclusive community that is necessary for this to happen.” — Kimberley Hansen, CEO

The challenge was for the visual design to reflect not only the inclusiveness and creativity that we as a company and the podcasting community as a whole stand for but to also address the specific needs of content creators. Podcasters’ biggest asset is the loyalty of their audiences and therefore, their brands.

Business card concepts embrace our quirky and even controversial imagery. The company name only appears in the email address, emphasizing the focus on imagery and essential information.

That is why we developed what feels like two different sides of a brand. On one end, we want to promote Gretta by translating our identity into a visual branding experience that piques people’s curiosity. The design we decided on is this crazy, eclectic visual experience that almost doesn’t seem to make sense. A very avant-garde punk look. Used very strategically. It’s a very distinct visual identity that creates ‘intrigue’ to bring people in and reflects the kind of openness to new ideas that we want. We want people to walk up to our booth on podcasting conferences and go “What’s this about?”.

Hoodie and T-shirt concepts use imagery as our brand identity, with a plain white square “logo” tying them to each other

On the podcaster end of it, our visuals are supposed to take a back seat so that the podcasters’ brands stand out. Our logo is a good example of that. The white box represents a simple platform that can house all types of content and it does so without conflicting with any of the podcaster brands.

So, does it work?

We’re part-way on the visual identity and we’re sure to see some growing pains because of that. That said, we’re super excited about the direction this is going.

Here’s some voices from the Gretta team on our new brand:

Kim: The way I think about our branding is that it’s a process of discovery rather than a process of creation. We don’t particularly adhere to convention. That is probably the single biggest hallmark of the Gretta branding.

Sam: I like the colours and the interesting style and the kinda glitch-art side of things. You have to look at it for a while to see what’s going on. I think that pairing the black and white and simple square logo with all the funky designs and colours works very well. You don’t really see any other company running with that and us embracing that is really good.

Jenn: At Gretta, we are reimagining podcasting and removing boundaries around how podcasts and less specifically, audio are shared. Our branding pushes boundaries in a similar way.

Kelly: I’m off a generation where most of my responses are in gif-form or random pictures that have almost nothing to do with the conversation. I like the idea of googling random crap, changing it a little bit and posting that as branding.

Cam: I felt like that I would name my kids like that, too. There was something that struck me right away. Also, the fact that it elicited a strong response. “Wow are we really gonna do this?”. It’s a little bit scary.

We still have a lot of work to do on the website, google docs, slide decks, shirts etc. More coming soon!

Thanks for reading! Follow our progress on gretta.com and @meetgretta. Feedback is a gift :)

Love, 
Rainer & the rest of team Gretta

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