Following my previous post about how I helped migrate the design tool stack and how we organise design at Florence, a company I recently joined, this post is about how I helped shape a rebrand for the whole company identity, going from a single-product marketplace provider to being a SaaS company offering different products for different audiences, taking into account the customer-facing side as well as the company and enterprise aspect.
Before I joined Florence, one of the exercises of the hiring process was to present a proposal of how would I unify and bring clarity to the product offering, at the time of the interview not even being release, of different products tackling different problems for different audiences. What I didn’t know at the time is that this particular exercise, in this case, a short presentation I put together on Figma, would become the foundation of a major rebrand that would represent an evolution towards a more mature vision and mission of an already established company.
What does it mean switching from a marketplace to a SaaS-led company?
Florence was initially born from the idea of creating a platform where care home professionals could find flexible jobs and allow them to plan their lives better, and at the same time, allow care home managers to fill their rota gaps with flexible staff that could become another member of the staff, knowing them and being able to book them in automatically, without having to deal with agencies sponsoring workers or not providing transparent information about who was coming to work the shift.
That’s still a core pillar of Florence’s offering, however, and due to the nature of the work of the company, soon new IPs were identified and with those new products needed to be built, such as in this case, the enterprise solution to manage internal staff initially called “StaffSmarter” and a training platform that allowed carers to take free online courses and renew their certificates online with a credited source, called “Florence Academy”.
Switching from being a marketplace to a SaaS company means that you are working not only for your existing audience but for a broader group of users and they need to be made aware that you are tackling different problems.
Those sat in different domains and were also pitched to their target audience from different channels, sometimes to avoid misunderstandings such as using the enterprise solution to sell flexible workers, or the involvement of the training platform within the marketplace to ensure they had everything up to date. All in all the fact that the names were related but not related enough and there was no clear connection between some of them made it complicated to sell as well as to create a sense of what Florence’s mission was.
With all that, it meant that we had to be transparent about what the company’s mission and vision are, its product offering and also who we were targeting and who could be a potential user from one or more of our products. After all, we offer a solution to people’s problems, and we needed to make it as easy as possible to understand and communicate that.
The importance of the brand as part of the user experience
As I’ve mentioned before, my role was to lead, among other things, the redesign of the products in a way that made sense both from a brand identity point of view but also from a user experience point of view.
Without forgetting that the experience of your users doesn’t start when they start using your product, but also how and at what stage they find out about them and decide that they could be the solution they were looking for.
With that in mind, as part of this major rebrand, we also set up the task of redesigning the website; a website that went from selling a single product for both ends of a marketplace to explain what other products we are offering and how do we aim to connect them with our users, and at a later stage, between the products themselves to make full use of the potential of some of their features.
Apart from the obvious implications of how users remember a brand by how they make use of their product offering, both in a good and a bad way, it’s also important to understand that a brand communicates its values, mission and position of the product as a constant connection with the UX of the product.
As part of this redesign, and with the mission of giving clarity to the product offering of Florence, we created a strategy that put all the products that Florence has developed over the years, the core and new ones and some that are under development at the same level of reach for users, to ensure they understood the reason behind them and see if we could find a fit for as many users of our audience as possible.
Product strategy vs brand strategy
A brand strategy is a plan where a brand aims to achieve a set of goals, and as part of this rebrand, one of the goals is to show new values that evolve from the fact that Florence as a company was growing its product offering and also the problems that we are tackling. It is important to understand that there’s also simultaneously a product strategy that aims to help a business to achieve a set of goals by, for example, serving their users, how the products improve the lives of those who use them and also how they understand the different features and journeys on which a person can make use of the product.
The product strategy of our new SaaS approach
While our core product will remain to be the reason for being of Florence, and where we will be focusing our efforts for a long time (called now Florence Flex), we now have different products that solve different products but want to be put in front of our users with the same level of importance, them being Florence Academy (the e-learning platform) and Florence Rota (the enterprise solution that allows homes to manage their internal staff planning).
As a way to support this new approach, we decided that we would give users a sense of what products we had to offer to them based on the fact that the part of an organisation or individual professionals, and that would be represented across the site by referring them as Care Professionals or Care Organisation.
Consistency as part of making a brand approachable
When thinking of how to show the evolution of our brand to a broader audience, it was also important to communicate credibility, and that was a hard task having multiple names with different visual style and products attach to each of those names.
We decided that each product (or sub-brand) would have its own identity but at the same time follow a pattern that could make it easily identifiable from the core brand identity.
As part of this exercise we also tried to come up with names for some of the sub-products that were never part of the core brand ecosystem, finding the names that could be easily memorable and also distinctive enough from competitors or the main message, but at the same time be descriptive of what they were representing. There were some constraints to take into account such as the fact that other competitors offer similar products with a bigger user base but finally, we decided to stick with simple and straight-forward names that could at the same time become a whole ecosystem on its own and allow for growth within them.
And similarly, we decided to assign a primary colour adjacent to the representation of the brand so that every one of the different products could have its distinctiveness on every visual asset produced that refers to them.
Coordinating a rebrand in a remote environment
One of the benefits of working in tech is that luckily most of our jobs, or mine, in this case, can be done online, thanks to tools that allow collaboration, such as Slack, Figma, Miro, etc. and remain in touch with online video calls with the team using software like Zoom or Google Meets. Coordinating a rebrand was a shared effort between the marketing team and part of the product team at Florence, and a lot of people was involved in discussing, signing-off and actively working on the production of the different deliverables. While it was my first time working on a project like this fully remote, I discovered that there are a few takeaways from running the rebrand as such. Below are some of my learnings to help showcase and spread the word of a setup that proved to be quite efficient at Florence.
Set the foundations of a process even if it gets messy
Working on this rebrand wasn’t the primary task of most of the members of the team that made it happen, it was somewhat of a side-project where we focused half of our weekly efforts, and as such, we needed to make sure everyone knew what were the steps and where things were standing, and as such, it was important to define some steps that we needed to reach to achieve a successful project.
Defining a process through a set time it’s always something difficult to assess, and if we consider the fact that this one, in particular, wasn’t the primary focus of our work and that we were working from different locations was a challenge, but setting up checklists, todo lists and particularly being transparent of what everyone was working on via regular check-ins as well as sharing work in progress helped the process is as smooth as possible.
We used a combination of Notion and Figma to work on the different proposals and deliverables that we needed to share with the stakeholders of the process and summarise them in Google Slide presentations that then would be shared with the founders for feedback.
In-house vs agency work
Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of working for and on different companies, both as a member of an agency running rebrand campaigns but also as part of an in-house team working on a refresh or evolution of the company’s brand. Both situations have their advantages and disadvantages.
In one case, your client is someone external that trusts your criteria and craft to design a proposal that represents a brief or a set of needs presented to you, but working for your own company can be proven a challenge because the client is, partly yourself, partly the team you work with. It’s important to set the right expectations from the beginning, being realistic about the outcome and the reality that there’s more work that one needs to make happen other than the rebrand we were tasked to work on. Managing expectations towards the project and ensuring there’s a constant influx of communication will help that the outcome of the project.
In our case, working on a rebrand that involved not only the marketing team but also the product and development team as a way of moving forward the development of our products, the expectations were high but clear communication and constant sharing of progress and interstitial outcomes helped deliver a solution that was both what everyone was expecting and maintain enough differentiation that was received in a very positive way.
Embrace feedback and asynchronous change
If this project has taught me one thing is that no matter how you try to time lock your work that given that people are working on different things from different locations getting feedback at the right time will become a mission hard to achieve, and over the development of this project I just learnt to embrace this fact and try to work based on it. Last-minute feedback or comments on projects already signed-off and in development proved to be a challenge that coming back to my first point of this section; sticking to a process would be key but it will get messy.
The fact that we got feedback at different times as people were able to review it while we had to move on to other topics or turn our attention to other deliverables made us work in a very fast iterative look where we would be working on different proposals and collecting feedback while we were already applying those proposals to different materials and building things with them.
It proved to be a challenge but with an interesting outcome where people could see in real-time the evolution of the concepts and how based on the feedback, they evolved to their final form in front of their eyes.
While the rebrand was perceived as minor in terms of product offering towards most of our user base, the new proposal towards business and enterprises was positively received and while we are still in the adoption face where we are measuring and monitoring both our social channels as well as our website and the number of sign-ups in our products, we can confirm that the reception exceeded expectations and this sets the foundations of a new vision for the company as well as for the products that are already part of our offering as well as the ones to come.
We learned as part of the launch that some things should have been thought deeper but thanks to a quick iterative process and the tools we use we were able to quickly adapt and make changes to ensure the transition of the previous setup to the current approach, vision and mission.
One of the things I like the most about my job is being able to work on different projects, learning from others and sharing my experience and knowledge on both product design as well as design thinking and this is one of those were working against the clock with a group of very open and talented people helped deliver a solution that overcame challenges of working remotely because of the times we are living as well as learning new approaches to a brand’s mission and vision.
This was also one of the most interesting challenges and exercises I’ve been part of that helped me getting onboarded and involved with as many people as possible when joining a new company as an in-house designer, an experience I recommend if faced with a similar challenge.
Find out more about Florence and what this rebrand means
While this has just outlined some of my insights and experience leading the product strategy and design aspect of this rebrand, there’s much more and many people within the team have been involved in it. If you want to learn more about Florence’s new look click on this link.
All work involved in the creation of the visuals for the site and marketing assets as well as on the logotypes of the new products was done by my colleague and talented designer Natasha Bonfield with the collaboration of the brilliant marketing team at Florence.
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