Branding and delivering INDEED Innovation

Written by Alex Hughes - September 23, 2021

Wholegrain are heavyweights at designing and developing world-class WordPress experiences. We aren’t necessarily known for branding, but within this post is a case study of a project we worked on for INDEED Innovation where we designed and formulated both a re-brand and a new digital experience.

From my experience with this project, it’s been a really smooth and rewarding few months. Being involved in the whole life-cycle of INDEED’s re-launch has been a breath of fresh air. Working so closely on the brand re-fresh allowed us to understand the client’s goals, needs, and desired direction much more clearly and proved to be fruitful for implementing the new brand into the website and further business collateral.

The branding process

In the following paragraphs, I’ll be going through the process we took for this project. We took the project through 5 fluid stages:

  • Stage 1: Discovery In collaboration with the client, we worked to understand competitor analysis, brand personality and deep dived into their previous design work to understand the direction the team were ideating.
  • Stage 2: Design direction and ideation This was essentially the first step of the branding. The aim was to determine colours, typography and an overall new vibe for the brand. Two concepts were produced with feedback determining the direction to take further.
  • Stage 3: Refinement With the feedback from the client from the presentation at stage 2, we were able to lean into a desired and focused direction. You can see the presentation slides.
  • Stage 4: Final branding presentation Through stage 3, we had roughly 3 weeks of refining the designs, with feedback on a weekly stand-up basis. The final branding presentation was presented to be signed off. Some of the screenshots below are taken directly from this presentation deck.
  • Final stage: Implementation With the signed off brand style, we implemented the visual language and tone of voice into the wireframe and website design suite. Following the sign off of the website, I produced a brand guidelines document for their internal design team to take forward. The guidelines include logo usage, brand rules, image treatment and colour usage.

The website

Following the branding process, the website was the piece in which the new visual language would be manifested. The website took the usual waterfall design process, which I previously detailed in-depth.

As we determined the branding and created formal brand guidelines, it was a much easier transition into UI design than it would have been if the branding was designed by an external agency. Also, many of the website decisions were workshopped during the branding phase as large chunks of the online strategy were relevant to that part of the work.

The final website was designed to showcase INDEED for what it is; innovation, circularity and human first design. As such, the branding looked to be authoritative, simple and accessible. The site also was stripped back, not only in its visual language but also in its UX and Information Architecture. For example, only the three key pillar pages ‘Expertise’, ‘Impact’ and ‘Attitude’ have prominence in the main navigation, with lesser site areas (blog, careers, etc) being fluidly interspersed throughout the website’s pages.

What I learnt

  • Branding is far more subjective than UI/UX, so a lot of the design work is based on emotion, tone of voice, and presenting it to show an enhancement of the previous brand image. I find this exciting with a lot of work needing to be done on justifying every decision taken. Ultimately this meant the work I did was more considered than it may be with a website design (which can be a lot more objective).
  • It’s vital to allow the client to have some say and feel empowered within the process. It’s hard in branding to push any design agenda, as the client will ultimately be living with the brand. I guess, it felt like more of a collaboration than a consultation.
  • It’s important to show mockups of real usage, right from the beginning. Just a logo and some typography won’t cut it. The client needs to know the vision behind the concept, and have a real understanding of how their brand may be rolled out and seen in the public eye.
  • Don’t use Lorem Ipsum. Ever. Real text and real imagery is the only way.
  • I still have the ability to design a brand (I believed I may have lost it a bit). Branding pushes your own personal design boundaries.