Design and strategy: How we reinvented ourselves without perishing in the effort

Written in collaboration with Daniel Zurita and Juan Carlos Boo (design team at Cirklo)

Manolo, Cirklo member (undecided about what pattern to choose)

What happens when you try to redesign the brand of one of Latin America’s leading innovation consultancy firms through a co-creation process with all its team?

The result is incredible and it perfectly portrays the team’s motivations and essence.

Cirklo was born 5 years ago with the intention of using innovation and design to improve things in our country and make a real impact. We recently decided to renew ourselves and achieve the transformation from within, by undertaking a process of image redesign and communication strategy executed by our own team.

Cirklo Team

We are 20 people working at the consultancy firm, with very different and diverse profiles; the same goes for our clients that include banks, insurance companies, foundations and NGOs, as well as governments. Therein laid how complex and yet simple our graphic communication had to b for everyone to understand what we had to say, in the simplest way.

This adventure lasted approximately 4 months, since those of us in the brand redesign team had to run operational projects at the same time. Having part of the team in charge of executing projects lead the process helped us better understand what we do, what we want to convey, and understand the team for the brand to truly be a reflection of our culture, work and purpose.

Team members attempting to draw Cirklo’s previous logo (as you can see, nobody was able to remember the original logo).

Finding the perfect balance between strategy and design was not easy; this is how we did it at Cirklo:

We began tackling the process by doing a graphic analysis of companies similar to Cirklo and looking for exciting references; however, all that graphic language, rich in images, told us very little about the path we were looking for. That’s when the strategy came into play to steal the focus from the process for a moment.

By following user-centered design methodologies, we had to integrate a process of understanding into this rebrand, so we started listening to people. We interviewed some of our clients and conducted ethnographic research activities with the entire Cirklo

Session to create personalized textures for each team member.A challenge we faced during this process was to align all the people involved (literally all of Cirklo, which as we mentioned, is a team with very different personalities and profiles and with great expertise in their area). Imagine reaching an agreement with 20 expert consultants on design topics, sounds chaotic, doesn’t it? It definitely added a new level of difficulty to the challenge we faced, but having the team collaborate undoubtedly helped us achieve a better result by integrating the perspective and vision of all the areas that make up Cirklo; achieving this not only ensured everyone’s happiness with the final result, but we also got the entire team to commit to the new brand and feel part of the process.

But, what was our co-creation process?

After performing a conceptualization with the main team of the project, we held a couple of ideation sessions with the team:

Session 1:

We asked each Cirklo member to draw an object that reminded them of the past year we spent together, all the lessons learned, adventures, good and bad memories. We also asked them to relate it to a color.

By understanding the team, we detected patterns of shapes and colors that later led us to the series of patterns that make up our branding.

After this first session and coming up with the diagnosis and definition of the design requirements, we began conceptualizing by creating basic graphic languages ​​that evolved to allow them to speak in the voice we wanted to hear. We achieved a rich conceptualization process where the ideas that emerged organically tied in with what we wanted to portray to the world.

Session 2:

Once the final concept was selected, we wanted to somehow convey the co-creation process, which is why we decided (even though it was quite a production challenge and we greatly appreciate our pressman’s patience) for each Cirklo member to design his/her own business card. During a session, we told them about the essence of the brand, key values ​​and messages we wanted to build, and based on this understanding, each Cirklo member designed his/her card with the freedom to express themselves using the predefined patterns.

That is how each business card represents the diversity, individuality and personality of the Cirklo members. Additionally, on the back of each card, there’s a text that appears as a headline making reference to the skills and interests of each of these people, all of them completely different.

We chose to work in this manner because collaboration is part of our essence and Cirklo’s strength derives from its team, which is why it was so important to represent each and every person.

(Very happy) team members with their pattern

Finally, the identity is based on the connection and union of the parts; it’s also the union of the first letter of Cirklo © with the last letter (o), and cirklo means circle in Esperanto. When the two elements are joined, the shape is sealed; the same occurred when uniting the world of design with strategy: we managed to achieve results that far exceeded our expectations.

We’d like to thank Chroma inc and Daniel Ceballos for helping us with the photographs and the development of our website;; without your talent we would not have been able to achieve this collective adventure.

Strategic Design Team (Lucy, Boo, Daniel and machete)

Originally published at medium.com on October 16, 2017.

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