We live by a different code

Metal Toad’s Process to a Brand Refresh

Why a Brand Refresh?

In early November 2015, Metal Toad began the work of a brand refresh. Our company had grown quickly over the past three years, our skills and service offerings had evolved, and the companies we could help best had shifted. Metal Toad now offered more than just Drupal for the entertainment industry. We have created an ecosystem for the full lifecycle of digital — from Technical Consulting to Product Development and Application Support to Managed Cloud. We have shifted our focus to engineering custom enterprise-class web, mobile, and software solutions. Our Cloud Team has become certified as an Amazon AWS Technology Partner and yet our messaging and website didn’t reflect this evolution. We took a hard look in the mirror and realized that a few things needed to change both internally and externally.

We knew weren’t looking at a rebrand, which is a total rebuild or redesign of the company branding. Our name, core values, and foundation of design elements were solid. We needed a brand refresh that built upon that solid foundation and illustrated the pivot the company was making from website development to the full spectrum of digital engineering.

 

Reaching Out for Help

To start, we admitted honestly that we needed some outside expertise. We knew we wanted a new tagline, new messaging, and a new look for the brand; but more importantly, we knew we first needed a new strategy to shift how we were positioned and perceived in the market. The work to create that new strategy required fresh eyes, objectivity, and additional expertise so we called upon our trusted creative partners at Emotive Brand for guidance.

After the initial meeting and review of the current brand, Emotive raised some thoughtful questions.

Did Metal Toad have an aligned vision of the forces that shaped our business and the key issues we faced? Had we clearly defined our new position in the market? What was Metal Toad’s unique differentiator? In order to best answer these questions, members of the Emotive team flew out for a three day workshop with members of the Metal Toad leadership team.

Within these collaborative workshops, Emotive facilitated fluid and organic deep dives into how we communicate our core offerings, the value we bring, our relationships, and how we compete as we move from today into tomorrow. We looked at what we needed to keep doing, start doing, and stop doing as we made the conscious pivot in the marketplace. The observations and insights from these workshops resulted in three key deliverables of the Metal Toad brand refresh — a new positioning statement, brand promise, and tagline.

Our positioning statement highlights how Metal Toad offers trusted advice and tailored solutions which serve as an antidote to the software industry’s status quo. Unlike old software and entrenched IT, Metal Toad provides working software and authentic, honest, and innovative partnerships.

Our brand promise, Leading the Ethical Software Movement, highlights how Metal Toad advocates an ethical approach to creating technology and doing business. Ethical software is not about our ability to craft the most elegant solution — though that is also critical to our success. It means doing right by Clients, partners, each other and society. We develop software that meets the Client need. We solve business problems to make the enterprise more effective. We develop software that adds value. And we do it in a way that builds a relationship of trust and mutual respect with our Clients. Lots of companies build software, but only Metal Toad does it by leading with our ethics.

Our tagline, We live by a different code, highlights how Metal Toad is a different kind of software firm, offering a new way to do business and to develop software solutions that work.

 

Internal Brand Launch

With these key strategy elements in place, the next steps of the brand refresh moved to our in-house marketing and design teams. Confident we could execute the new messaging and transform the visual design, we started with a competitive audit of thirteen companies. The goal was to know who our competitors are and what they are offering, so we could differentiate ourselves from them not only in strategy and approach, but in messaging and design.

With competitive research in hand, the marketing and design teams headed offsite for two days to review the audit, conduct research and work sessions around the refreshed brand look, and outline the new brand guidelines.

Returning onsite, the design team created three different options for a refreshed look. Each option included new logotype, new typefaces, and an expanded color palette that represented different aspects of Metal Toad’s personality. After presentations to the executive leadership team, a final approach was chosen, and the different elements of the brand refresh were falling into place.

On June 17, 2016, Metal Toad launched our brand refresh internally to the Toads. Launching a brand refresh internally is a critical step that is often overlooked. At Metal Toad, we respected the important impact of this step and embodied living by a different code with an all-hands offsite to launch the refresh.

Design of the June event started in early spring, where the vision for the internal launch was born. Four weeks before the event, there were weekly “teaser” cards on each Toads desk with fun facts about Metal Toad and hints about what would be revealed the offsite. On the day of, Toads walked into downtown PDX’s Living Room Theater. With loud, upbeat music welcoming them, the launch kicked off with a Toad standup tradition — a question to get the audience engaged (“What is your favorite things about Metal Toad?”). From there, Design and Marketing gave a high-level presentation of the brand refresh journey. A custom designed video with interviews highlighting how Metal Toad has always lived by a different code followed, culminating in the reveal of the new promise and tagline. Inspirational speeches from the leadership team  and a champagne toast ended the event, and Toads returned to the office for a catered lunch with special “Brand Bags” on their desk, containing a new brand guidelines preview, t-shirts with the new logo and tagline, and Toad Lore, another totem illustrating how we live by a different code.

Looking forward, marketing and design will continue to evolve Metal Toad’s messaging, launch our new full brand guidelines, and advance and apply the new look and feel across all our collateral.

Shared here is a shortened version of the video shared at the launch. We hope you enjoy it!

 

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About the Author

Corinna Gelster-Borgardt, Creative Director

Corinna graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a BFA in Graphic Design. With over a decade of experience working as a leader and designer, she oversees and manages the strategic direction and day-to-day execution of the marketing design department at Metal Toad. As the engineering company’s creative visionary, she leads the design department in their mission to unite audience-focused strategic design with meaningful experiences and business value.

Offering a diverse skillset, she's adept at assessing the real “ask”, strategizing solutions, and motivating teams to deliver exceptional work. Yet Corinna considers her role to be about so much more — it’s about being a driven, empathetic, and positive leader who invests in her team, creates focus and alignment, and gets things DONE.

In all endeavors, she brings a passion for adaptability and learning, keen visual skills, and due diligence from concept through completion.

When not leading or designing, you can find her exploring the Oregon coast and local farmer’s markets, running, doing yoga, curling up with a great book, sculpting, or cooking for an impromptu dinner party.

Ready for transformation?