Building the studioID brand
By Michelle Rock • Nov 18, 2020
Over the summer in 2020, Industry Dive acquired NewsCred’s Content Marketing Studio and Services. With this acquisition came a huge brand and marketing challenge – how do we integrate the former NewsCred Studio brand with the brand of Brand Studio, Industry Dive’s existing content marketing arm? With the new suite of products and services, Brand Studio was outgrowing its existing brand. The new company offering, opportunities and expertise needed a new brand to match, so we decided to create a completely new visual identity for the integrated team – studioID. This post highlights how Dive designers achieved that goal in less than two weeks.
The building blocks
studioID offers “brand-to-demand” programs for its clients, which include executing content marketing programs and creating original content. In order for clients to trust in our ability, we knew that studioID visuals needed to demonstrate expertise. The stakeholders’ goal was to position studioID as a forward-thinking leader, and they gave our team initial concepts for inspiration: creative, modern, trustworthy, bold.
Our design approach had three key objectives:
- Create distinction. Make studioID stand apart from its competition.
- Convey our brand value. Why should clients work with us? What are we bringing to the table? Our brand identity should visually portray our value.
- Foster trust. Make it easy for the client to have confidence in the studioID team; showcase its proven success.
With that vision and our objectives in mind, we began building our brand’s visual language consisting of a logo, graphic motif, color palette and typography.
We partnered with consulting group SJR to design the new logo. In order to establish a visual connection to the parent company, we decided to use the slash from Industry Dive’s icon mark as a key element in the new studioID logo. The “slash” represents “cutting through the noise” of the media space, getting right to the core of what’s important to our readers. By integrating the slash into the new studioID logo, we established brand continuity. Continuity helps our audience recognize our brand across platforms, and that recognition fosters trust.
As an extension of the logo, the “slash” element has been used across ID’s platforms as a graphic motif. Using this motif across our corporate site, social media, and marketing collateral unifies them and makes the brand feel cohesive.
We knew that this motif could also be reiterated for studioID to further display brand continuity. Our art director, Kendall, created a new kit of geometric shapes and illustrations inspired by the slash.
We wanted a strong, authoritative motif to reflect the type of content studioID produces, but also something that tied back to the Industry Dive corporate branding without being identical.– Kendall Davis, Art Director
The result is a familiar, recognizable element that reinforces its relationship to ID and can be employed in a variety of use cases.
Establishing brand continuity was a little more straightforward when deciding on typefaces. Industry Dive’s official typeface is Proxima Nova. It’s used on our corporate website, publication sites, and collateral. It was an easy decision to use it again for studioID.
However, we didn’t feel like Proxima Nova alone could fully accomplish one of our key objectives: conveying brand value. Our editorial expertise is an important competitive differentiator for us, and using a serif typeface can invoke that editorial connection. And, a vital design requirement: our fonts need to be available for the web. So, we combed through Adobe and Google fonts and landed on Freight. It combines that classic editorial sensibility with a sharp, modern twist.
A well-defined color palette is a very powerful tool for developing a brand. It differentiates your look from other companies, it draws your viewer’s eye to focal points of the content, and is an extremely effective way to communicate the brand’s personality. Knowing how powerful color can be, this was the hardest part of the process for our team to nail down.
We pored over color swatches and experimented with combinations to tackle the following questions:
- How can we use color to stand out from other creative agencies?
- What’s the appropriate amount of color? Too many colors makes the brand unrecognizable, too few makes it uninspiring.
- What are the use cases? Do we have enough options to be extensible for every use case? How will it look with Industry Dive’s corporate color palette?
As I referenced earlier, Industry Dive’s brand philosophy approaches color strategically. We believe that neutral core colors service our work best (i.e. black, white and greys), because it lets the content take center stage. We use those neutrals for the majority of our designs, and so when we use even small amounts of other colors, it has impact. That said – when creating a brand for a content marketing agency, you also need to invoke excitement and creative energy! studioID’s color palette needed to strike a balance between restraint and vibrancy.
After lots of experimenting, we decided that studioID’s core colors would be black, white, cool greys, and a bright cobalt blue. That way, the neutral color philosophy would carry over, and the blue would be a clear departure from Dive Red.
With that, we realized we needed accent colors to make studioID’s original content come alive and allow for creative expression when making new collateral. I took the core blue and selected other colors using Adobe Color, which mathematically generates options based on color values and color rules. Using this method ensured that all the colors were related and in harmony with each other.
Once we had the accent colors selected, we also found a need for lighter and darker tints, to be used whenever we needed additional contrast. The end result is a unique and versatile color palette, in line with our existing color philosophy.
With all these brand assets and standards defined, the end result is an exciting extension of the Industry Dive brand. We’re proud of building out a well-designed foundation for the brand, which will showcase studioID’s impressive offering of products and services to our audience.
Next, learn how our product design team developed the studioID website by reading Product Design Director Natalie Forman’s post, Designing studioID’s marketing website.
Team: Taylor McKnight, Michelle Rock, Kendall Davis, Natalie Forman and Chelsea Ennis.