In business, there’s no such thing as standing still. Growth is always the ultimate goal.
With growth comes change and evolution. And evolution means you’re eventually going to outgrow your brand.
Even if you’re expertly managing your brand, there comes a time when you outgrow its original iteration. It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when.
As your company outgrows its circumstances, just like a child maturing into adulthood, it can start to look a little different, sound a little different, and have more to offer the world. What stays the same are your values, experiences, and your story.
Your brand is how your audience connects to you and how you build a community around your business. A rebrand is what turns your business into an empire.
Sometimes, the need for change can be superficial, like when you’re dealing with rapid business growth, or you feel the need for a more professional, high-quality design or function. In other cases, your brand and messaging may no longer be aligned, and you end up not working with your ideal client.
Before you know it, you find yourself in a place that doesn’t look anything like where you first started. It’s one of the signs you should consider a rebrand.
We’ve dedicated this entire third season of The Drag & Drop Show to some of the most challenging rebrands in SaaS and beyond. Why? Because we just went through one ourselves.
We deeply empathize with the hard work, dedication, and personal commitment it takes to rebrand an entire company. So when it came time to get an in-depth look into what a rebrand means, I knew the best people to talk to would be those that have spearheaded the process itself.
This special episode features the founder of Creatopy, Gabriel Ciordaș, and Ciprian Robu, Senior Designer at Brandient. Together, we dive into how Creatopy was designed to elevate the company’s presence in the industry, so it reflects its current posture and the bold evolution of the platform.
We discuss everything from the questions to ask to uncover your need for a rebrand to how the product evolved to meet the standard the rebrand created. You’ll definitely enjoy the actionable insights Gabriel shares from the founder’s viewpoint, complete with a full timeline and stages of the rebrand from the agency’s perspective.
You also get to learn how the Creatopy team worked with Brandient to materialize a rebrand that looks as great on the outside as it feels on the inside among its team members. Trust me, you’ll want to take notes.
Gabriel Ciordaș is a founder, CEO, and passionate leader of several companies that deal with industry innovation. Almost 13 years ago, he founded Bannersnack, a subscription-based online Flash design editor that enabled people to streamline design in an intuitive yet cost-effective way.
For the past two years, he’s been the driving force behind the rebranding process that gave the company its new name and identity—Creatopy. With boundless optimism and total faith in his team, Gabriel has first-hand experience in how a rebrand process works and which goals act as fuel for it.
A visual artist with a penchant for branding, Ciprian Robu is a Senior Designer at Brandient, a mobile taskforce of multidisciplinary experts specialized in brand innovation in emerging markets and industries.
As part of a branding agency, Ciprian knows that asking the right questions is key to creating a new universe. His rich and vivid insights describe what it took to architect the transition from Bannersnack to Creatopy.
Stuff I Was Curious to Find Out:
- How to find the why for a rebrand. The essential questions you should use to get clarity and architect a vision that can accompany your business as it evolves. (01:58)
- The main issues Bannersnack addressed through the name and brand metamorphosis into Creatopy. (04:57)
- What remains unchanged about the brand and how to take these enduring elements and use them as a foundation for a rebrand. (06:39)
- What the role and method of and around customer research were, as part of the rebrand. (09:14)
- The fundamental relationships that made a rebrand work. (14:01)
- How the creative direction and significance of the rebrand’s main elements came to life. (16:19)
- How the internal brand launch went and the business risks they had to manage as the public launch got closer. (20:09)
- How the rebrand transformed not just the company itself but also the people in it. (30:43)
- The key lessons that the founder and the lead brand designer learned throughout the rebranding process. (34:12)
What You Can Learn From This Episode:
- What the rebranding process looks like, from a brand consultant’s point of view and the type of questions you need to ask before you embark on the journey itself. (02:15)
- How the company’s ambitious vision came to life. Uncover the pillars that Bannersnack was built on before it became Creatopy. (03:19)
- Why rebranding was a business opportunity for Creatopy and how they leveraged the industry context to make an impact. (06:05)
- How customer research fueled the rebranding process and aligned the team like no other experience before it. (09:33)
- The challenges of pulling off the process and maintaining enthusiasm through a pandemic. (12:14)
- What it’s like to work with an agency that specializes in brand innovation in emerging markets and industries. (14:19)
- The pivotal choices and unmissable details that made Creatopy the deeply human and vibrant brand you see today. (16:45)
- What a typical rebranding timeline looks like. A clear breakdown of the core stages you’ll go through that can help you step into a rebranding process with more realistic expectations. (22:53)
- How to find that authentic alignment between the internal team, the brand values, and, most of all, what customers need and expect from it. (26:43)
- Key lessons and anchors for other business owners doing a rebrand. From understanding business context and strategy to lessons learned as a brand designer. (34:36)
1. Find the right branding partners
If you’re going to invest the time and money, it’s worth doing it right. Working with the best people in the industry, whether that’s employees or agencies, is the key to a successful rebrand.
As your business grows, so should your identity. This can be scary because it takes a perpetual investment of time, money, and expertise. But it is worth every penny. A professional can help you set specific, achievable goals for your rebrand, as well as a realistic timeline and budget.
Remember that you don’t have to leave your old brand behind. Sure, your branding may have some weaknesses, but it also has its strengths you’ll want to continue to leverage moving forward. An expert will know how to find these pillars and figure out what to keep and what to move on from.
At the end of the day, you’ll have greater clarity every time you refresh your brand identity. Look at it as an opportunity to also grow your reach, profits, and longevity as a leader in the market.
2. Focus on why and how your business revolves around your customers
One of the first signs that it’s time to rebrand is simply wondering if a rebrand is necessary. That feeling means you’ve surpassed those hard first few years, and you know more about your customers now than you did when you started your business. It also means that you have a real business on your hands, which is cause for celebration.
You likely have a sweet spot developing, and you’re thinking more about the best parts of the work or what you really want to be known for. This is where in-depth research can help—research about the company or the market, the problems they face, and the opportunities that are opening up.
Once you have this data, make sure you take the time to understand it. Only by mapping, interrogating, and understanding the issues can you start to unpack a strategic problem, see the gaps and plan where to go next. By combining all of these, you can come up with a more accurate picture of what your product needs to look like.
3. Keep learning, so your company doesn’t outgrow you
Leading a rapidly growing company is full of high and low points, and it’s never short on challenges. It’s not about what you’ve already done. It’s about what you are doing and will do. So, how do you keep pace with a growing company?
To be an effective leader, in the long run, you need to continuously evaluate the needs of your organization and adapt your behavior. You may need to develop new skills over time and be very intentional about your willingness to change to be of service to your team.
Build vertical and horizontal relationships, keep up-to-date on industry trends, know what is going on and what your competitors are doing. Don’t underestimate and make sure you treat competitors with the level of respect they deserve. They’ll be the ones that will keep your feet on the ground and your brain sharp.
Andra Zaharia: Hi there! And welcome to the Drag & Drop show by Creatopy. It’s Andra Zaharia here, and I’m delighted to be your host for the third season of the podcast. We’ve dedicated the entire season to some of the most challenging rebrands in SaaS and beyond. Why? Because we just went through one ourselves. We deeply empathize with the hard work, dedication, and personal commitment it takes to rebrand an entire company.
Andra Zaharia: So, we kick off the third season with a special episode featuring the founder of Creatopy, Gabriel Ciordaș, and Ciprian Robu, Senior Designer at Brandient. Let’s meet the guests, shall we?
Andra Zaharia: With boundless optimism and total faith in his team, Gabriel talks about how the rebrand process worked and which goals acted as fuel for it. Learn how Creatopy was designed to elevate the company’s presence in the industry, so it reflects its current posture and the bold evolution of the platform. On the agency side, Ciprian led the creation of the new brand universe. His rich and vivid insights describe what it took to architect the transition from Bannersnack to Creatopy. We discuss what happens when a company outgrows its brand and how the team’s ambitions for the future are reflected in the new identity. Ciprian shares highly valuable insights for fellow creatives, from the crucial element of building an internal brand to sustaining the momentum a rebrand ignites. From a-ha moments and satisfying wins to the unexpected challenges that pop up along the way, both guests share it all with enthusiasm and honesty.
Andra Zaharia: You also get to learn how the Creatopy team worked with Brandient to materialize a rebrand that looks as great on the outside as it feels on the inside, among its team members. Join me as we dive into the story right now!
Andra Zaharia: How do you decide it’s time for a rebrand? What questions do you use to get clarity and architect a vision that can accompany the organization as it evolves? These are questions we’re going to explore right now. So let’s start with the brand designer’s perspective.
Ciprian Robu: From a brand consultant’s point of view, the first questions I think are about the actual context, brand circumstances. For example, why does it want to rebrand? What is the vision of the company? How and when it started as a company? What are the fields in which it operates? What are the products? And so on and so forth. I think it’s very important finding out where a brand stands in the market is a crucial first step. If you don’t investigate, immerse yourself and do proper research, you’ll not understand the issues, of course, and I think you’ll end up creating false solutions for forced problems.
Andra Zaharia: Switching views, what business value does a rebrand have? Not to give away too much, but in this episode, you’ll discover how the rebrand changed Creatopy, made its culture stronger, and even increased the level of product innovation.
Gabriel Ciordaș: If you have a strong brand, our colleagues will have something to dream with, dream at. The same thing with customers. Customers like to stick to brands, not necessarily to products.
Andra Zaharia: To rebuild a company’s identity based on the core principles that brought it to its present stage starts with a fundamental question: why do a rebrand? Here’s what other questions Ciprian used to uncover the pillars that Bannersnack was built on before it became Creatopy.
Ciprian Robu: From a designer’s point of view, this question lands a bit later. Even before the official design briefing, we as designers ask a lot of questions. The first one, of course, is what is that brand about? And it depends a lot from case to case. Sometimes, you really don’t have any clues about that company, about what they do, about who they are. Most often, the name doesn’t say much. I think there were cases in which, by only knowing the name, I thought I’ll design a brand for a construction materials company, but after the briefing session, I found out that the brand was about a cutting-edge piece of technology. In this particular case – in Creatopy’s case – I already knew what Bannersnack at that time was, I heard about it on social media before, and I also have a friend who works there. To be more specific, after that, the design-related questions arise. For example, what are you trying to convey through design? Does it need to feel in a particular way? Is that an established company? It needs to be masculine, sensible, I don’t know, delicious? It depends from brand to brand. And of course, what problems are we trying to resolve? Is it a brand architecture problem? Is it about the perceived quality of the product? And after all, why are we doing this? So, I think there are essential questions.
Andra Zaharia: A rebrand is an opportunity to have deep, thoughtful conversations around the company’s growth prospects and how it envisions its future. In this context, the Bannersnack team set its sights high. The rebrand is a pivotal moment to the company’s development, as it had outgrown its name and positioning. So here’s the inside scoop on the issues they addressed through the name and brand transformation.
Ciprian Robu: They had an ambitious vision. The business had a period of organic growth, and they were looking at branding as an instrument to sustain and positively influence this moment of growth. And as you say about the name, the name Bannersnack was perceived as limiting, and it misaligned the real capabilities of the platform and the business’ ambitions, the product far exceeding the scope of a banner creator – the ‘banner’ particle limits the supply of products, and the particle ‘snack’ kind of diminishes the promise of a reliable product. So, even if it indicates ease, lightness, accessibility in using the platform, the name Bannersnack does not create the desired association for the future of the company.
Andra Zaharia: It’s also interesting to note that rebranding was a business opportunity for the company. Ciprian Robu, Senior Designer at Brandient, explains why.
Ciprian Robu: From the research, I did this time, the branding in this category is not very spectacular at the moment. Very few players stand out and have succeeded to build visual identities capable to differentiate, to impress, or to convey something relevant. The branding stage is pretty early in this category. And, of course, it was an opportunity for Bannersnack to make an impression in this regard.
Andra Zaharia: While rebranding is all about change, there’s also a deeper layer to it: capturing the essence of a company, the elements that underpin its success and growth. So I asked Gabriel Ciordaș, Creatopy founder, to share what remained unchanged throughout this transformative process.
Gabriel Ciordaș: I would say that the spirit will be unchanged, meaning that we always tried to put our soul out there to make sure that the customer gets everything that he wants and needs. So, we’re always focusing on doing better in order for our customers to do better. They are our only target, if you want, as far as looking for needs. We’re not really coming up with ideas of how we want to evolve, but we rather look at companies and customers’ needs and try to fulfill those. So this will be unchanged, we will always try to do our best in order to satisfy customer needs, and to make sure that everybody’s happy and satisfied with us. But all of this will have a different code, meaning that we’ll have a different name, a different image – the look and feel will be totally, totally different. As we said earlier, we’re mature now, and we are aware of all the things that we need to change in order to be better, stronger. And with a little bit of optimism, why not become number one in our industry?
Andra Zaharia: So what does it look like when you take these enduring elements and use them as a foundation for a rebrand? Here’s how it worked when Bannersnack became Creatopy.
Ciprian Robu: More or less, the values remained the same, but they were reinterpreted and standardized by the brand consultants. In Creatopy’s case, they were identified with something like belonging. For example, “I belong to a team of beautiful minds and open hearts, allowing me to think sharp, to glow bright, and to stay agile.” And you already can see how we put the glow part in this specific value. Another one is the passion for technology. “I’m in technology as an employee; I actually live and breathe technology. And that’s it.” As a services brand, I care: “It’s about the customer-driven approach, about delivering the best customer experience because as an employee, I’m seriously going to knock our client’s socks off with a staple VR to journey on our platform. Pleasant and productive.”
Andra Zaharia: Many companies today claim to be customer-driven, but the ones that actually practice this principle know it takes a lot of hard work. Creatopy founder, Gabriel Ciordaș, reveals how customer research fueled the rebranding process and aligned the team like no other experience before it.
Gabriel Ciordaș: It’s a very, very long process. It is combined with a lot of information gathering if you want. It’s not necessarily a recipe. It’s not something that I can outline – you know, point A, point B, point C – but basically, giving the fact that it’s in our DNA to listen to customers’ needs and problems, I think it was a very natural process for us to focus on what they want. I think our team did a very good job in making sure that all of the information that they gather is pulled into one spot, and then from there, we analyze everything, and then we make decisions on what and how we need to make changes to our product, to our flow, to our brand, and so on, and so forth. So, basically, you know, everybody listens to the customer; from our product manager to our support colleagues, everybody’s out there with, you know, the ears and eyes wide open, to make sure that we capture every single detail and aspect of customer’s needs.
Gabriel Ciordaș: And once you have this data, it’s easier to work with, it’s not done. So it’s not only about collecting the information, it’s also about understanding better how to form your product to perfectly fit your customers. I strongly believe that the most important success factor that you need is your team. I don’t believe in companies with employees, I believe in companies with team members. Every single one of us had a contribution smaller or bigger in the making of the new brand, and the new flow, and so forth. I wouldn’t want to necessarily give names because maybe I’ll forget some of them, and I wouldn’t want to offend anybody. I like to think that our organization is not a pyramid, if you want, it is a straight line. So, we’re basically all on the same level, but we have different jobs, and we are responsible for different aspects of the company, brand, product, and so forth. But I can surely tell you that if any one of the actual team members would have missed, our product would have been less good. So I think that every one of us has a contribution in this.
Andra Zaharia: As you can imagine, it didn’t help that the last stage of the rebrand happened in 2020, one of the most difficult years for almost every company out there. Because honesty is built into Creatopy as a company, Gabriel was also very candid about the challenges of pulling off the process and maintaining enthusiasm through this deeply challenging period.
Gabriel Ciordaș: Unfortunately, this period was not very favorable for us because, as you mentioned, we could not have too many live meetings – even if we did just a few people attended. So yeah, that was a huge, huge drawback for us. But the enthusiasm was – or is – so great that you know, we kind of overcome all these difficulties. But yes, we have to admit that it was not that comfortable. We could have done a lot better, a lot faster if everybody would have been in the office, but it is what it is, everybody goes through the same situation, and if everybody else is making it, we need to adjust and do a great job as we are right now.
Andra Zaharia: For Creatopy, the rebranding process was almost like a rebirth. It wasn’t just a name and a visual evolution because it actually permeated the entire company. The founder himself explains why the launch of the new brand identity was postponed and how it elevated the work of the entire team.
Gabriel Ciordaș: My colleagues liked it so much that initially, we planned to launch the brand a lot sooner, but my colleagues liked it so much, and they valued it so high that they said, “Okay, we cannot launch this product under this gorgeous brand. So we need to rewrite everything in the product in order to match the quality and the emotion that the new brand is transmitting.” So, we have delayed our rebrand because it’s not going to be a rebrand is going to be a brand new thing from every single aspect – product, flow, look and feel, every aspect that’s related to the company.
Andra Zaharia: Creatopy was born through the combined efforts of the internal team at Bannersnack and Brandient, an agency that specializes in brand innovation in emerging markets and industries. Let’s hear both sides talk about their experience and the fundamental relationships that made this rebrand work.
Gabriel Ciordaș: We worked with an agency, probably one of the best agencies out there; the agency’s name is Brandient – fantastic people, tremendous talent. So the process was pretty smooth and straightforward. Basically, they interviewed us. We have, again, opened our soul and put everything on the table. They understood very well how ambitious we are and how far we want to get with this brand. So, in order to fulfill our dreams, they needed to come up with a fantastic brand, a fantastic look – everything that the brand transpires: emotions, so forth, and so on, everything was in the right spot. So this is how we get the name, the look, and feel, and so forth. The spirit is inside, and that’s us, basically. You will be able to feel that once you start using the product and once you start understanding what we have come up with, as the name says – the name Creatopy comes from two words: create and utopia. So, basically, we will create the heaven of creation, if I can say that.
Ciprian Robu: We’re a brand consultancy, so I think that’s why a lot of relationships are different than, let’s say, the advertising world. I think it’s the trust and the mutual respect for each other’s work, and I think the trust comes from the consultant’s authority on that. It was a great relationship and still is. They came to Brandient with a problem, they listened to our advice, and they took our recommendations with an open mind. I remember there were some moments of polishing things together, but it all went smooth and easy. I also think it was important that they are a group of highly professional people. Their team put the right questions, had the right points of view, and clearly understood the whole process. And, of course, when two companies – in our case Brandient and Creatopy – are in such a yin & yang relationship, only the good things will follow.
Andra Zaharia: Connecting people to product, to customers, and the larger creative community, Creatopy’s rebranding story covers it all. Now that you’ve seen what happened behind the scenes, it’s time to unpack the creative direction and significance of the main elements of the rebrand. Ciprian shares the pivotal choices and the unmissable details that made Creatopy the deeply human and vibrant brand you see today.
Ciprian Robu: We created the new brand idea, of course, and in accordance with this brand idea, which is creative empowerment, let’s start with the logo, for example. The Creatopy logo dramatizes the core concept of creativity via a widely used, hence easy-to-decode metaphor, which is the bright lights. And the symbol is based on a trinity of elements. The C letter stands, of course, for Creatopy, creation, creativity, the ideal – which is the sphere, utopia in our vision – and the glow, because it’s very glowy, it’s very magical, which stands of course for idea, creativity, intelligence. If you think the right side of the brain, which is the creative side of the brain. And more than that, we tried to make that symbol dynamic. We saw this visual identity to breathe, to be alive via its glow gradient because it has a gradient in that glow. The symbol is able to shift its color from the main green sign gradient to the next in line in the color circle. For example, I don’t know, blue to indigo, violet to magenta, red to orange, and orange to yellow. Also, the logo can borrow colors from the surrounding elements, creating chromatic harmonies. So, it feels like if it were an animal, I think we can associate the chameleon with this symbol. If you put it near a yellow lamp, it becomes yellow. If you put it near a gray image, it becomes grayish and stuff like that. Also, I think when applied to digital media – a website, for example – the logo can change glow, color, and even size, reaching the next level. Sometimes it can be more diffuse, and sometimes it can be more compact and stuff like that. In certain circumstances, the logo can react to specific triggers, maybe briefly flashing or expanding its glow to a larger size. If you use the cursor or something like that to interact with that, it can transform. Millions of names have already been registered by hundreds of thousands of companies across the globe, so creating and protecting a name takes a unique combination of creative and administrative skills.
Ciprian Robu: But yeah, luckily, Brandient has already created original names for I think more than 150 companies now. So, that process went, as usual, difficult but steady. I think on our final list on the naming presentation, we proposed around 10 or 12 names. We had two or three favorites, and Creatopy was one of them. So, I think the name is great for them. It’s awesome. I can talk a bit about it because I’m very fascinated, and I’m really proud that our team succeeded to create such a great name. Of course, it’s derived from creation, creativity, and also utopia. And I think the name denotes the idea of perfect creation and the vast imaginary potential – the best place for creativity, actually. Creatopy is the state of grace when the act of creation flows perfectly, and all ideas enthusiastically come out. And the best part at that time it had a dot com available, which is mandatory for a global name. So, isn’t that wonderful? Yeah.
Andra Zaharia: After all this painstaking work, you might wonder how the team felt when they saw the new brand reveal. Having led the company through this effort, Gabriel shares how the internal brand launch went and what risks he had to manage as the public launch got closer and closer.
Gabriel Ciordaș: We have tried to communicate step-by-step things, but I think at the end of the day, when we had the brand launch, internally, obviously, everybody was extremely, extremely happy, everybody was super excited, optimistic. Because you can realize from the moment you see the brand, it definitely communicates in the very first second that we are there to make a change in our industry for the better. So, you don’t have to talk too much or to explain too much once you have seen it, and this is what kind of made my mission a lot easier because we first presented internally, and then everybody was super happy. So we had basically no issues with that. But before making the decision, we knew that there’s no other way. There’s risk in every aspect of our life. But given the fact that we have such a great team with such great brains, I did not look too much at risks. I would rather say I was focused on opportunities. I’m not saying that we turned our backs on the risk side, but it’s not something that we have focused on. Of course, now that you mentioned it, there are so many things that could go wrong. People would not like the new flow, they’re not getting used to it quick enough, and they would go to our competitors, failures in the SEO, and we lose all of our organic traffic. There are so many things. But in my perspective, we, as mentioned earlier, we have evolved to a stage where we know what we’re doing, we know we’re a great team. Once you have that, you can overcome any obstacle. We have quite a few customers that love us and, most definitely, they will not all leave together. Again, given the enthusiasm that we have, given the fact that we know that we will come up with a fantastic product with a fantastic brand, we look at risk, but I think it’s pretty low. I wouldn’t worry that much about that. My colleagues do worry a lot. But I think that my mission is to tell them not to worry, their mission is to worry, and we meet halfway, so we’re good.
Andra Zaharia: If you’ve never done a rebrand before, you may wonder what a typical timeline looks like. While every company is unique, learning from Creatopy’s experience can help you step into a rebranding process with more realistic expectations. Here’s your chance to see things both from the business and the agency’s side, with a clear breakdown of the core stages you’ll go through.
Gabriel Ciordaș: We have started the rebranding process in 2018, and in 2019 we had back and forth changes and so forth. In the middle of 2019, we decided that we’re ready to go anytime soon. But when we made the presentations to our colleagues internally, they realized that the product is not good enough for the brand. So we postponed everything, and now we are in the process of rewriting everything as far as the product, flow, the perspectives, target market, so on and so forth, in order that the product matches the name and the brand, obviously. So, this is how we decided that we’ll launch on February 8th, 2021. We are very excited to see what happens. And once that happens, we’ll probably be able to tell you all the mistakes that we’ve made during the process. But you know, I’m very optimistic. Everybody’s super optimistic. We have small, small fears and doubts, but I think that’s something normal. It takes a lot, a lot of meetings because you have to make sure that we’re all aligned. Other than a lot of meetings, it’s a lot of debates, a lot of pros and cons, this color, this thing, that picture, and so forth. But I’m grateful that our team was strong enough to overcome all the different perspectives, and now everybody’s super, super-aligned. I can tell you that we have never been so aligned from the beginning of this company so far. So this is the first time when we are 100% aligned with everybody and everything.
Ciprian Robu: Nowadays, the whole process is a bit shorter, but a full and serious rebranding process can take more than six months, and the timelines, I think, look like this. The first step usually is your rebranding projects starts somewhere, but often in the wrong place. So you might ask, what is the right place to start? And I think it’s in-depth research about the company or organization market, the problems they face, and the opportunities that are opening up. Only by mapping, interrogating, and understanding the issues you can start to unpack a strategic problem, see the gaps and plan where to go next. That would be the first step. And the second step is once we fully understand the context of a brand, we can begin to define it, and what it stands for, and its core purpose. Before we can go anywhere near the design process, I think we need to get everyone to agree on the verbal basis for the new brand. And this can be a simple headline or 100 words manifesto, it depends. In Creatopy’s case, the brand idea is creative empowerment. It’s a simple, bold statement. The third step is where the design work starts. Designers need to be briefed, and the creative process itself needs to be handled very carefully. In this phase, if it’s a great project like Creatopy, all designers want to come up with solutions and ideas. So, in our case, at Brandient, we usually enter an internal competition. The designer whose idea is chosen by the client will win and will lead the project.
Andra Zaharia: Without a doubt, the value of a brand is essential in our lives. We need to get more out of our interactions with brands both as consumers and as employees. That’s why to make a rebrand work, you need to find that authentic alignment between the internal team, the brand values, and, most of all, what customers need and expect from it. Ciprian has a clarifying perspective on this, including a quote that sticks with you long after you’ve listened to this episode.
Ciprian Robu: The temptation is to think “Job done” after the strategy or the final design presentation. So yeah, job done. But this is where the long-term job begins, especially with larger organizations with layers of management and hundreds of employees. If the new direction isn’t understood internally, the task had maybe an uphill struggle. This is where brand engagement comes in. And one of the key tasks of this step – engaging – is to take the words, the ideas, and designs agreed upon and extend them in real-life situations. In Creatopy’s case, it was a brand engagement session with all the employees, they released an internal newsletter as a teaser a few days prior to the event, a goodie bag with branded giveaways, and other small surprises. I think for the verbal elements, which crucially affects how a brand or organization communicates and behaves, this is the perfect time to establish what those values will really mean in everyday usage. I don’t think the point is to invite employees in the conference room and tell them, “Well, here are the brand values and beliefs to guide you from now. Good luck with that.” People must have a predisposition towards these values, and you must explore ways of enhancing that predisposition. Ideally, the new idea will begin to cascade down within the company, and either formally or informally, the staff will become ambassadors for the new way of working. They can begin to run groups with other members of staff and become informal explainers. I remember that day very clearly, it was an awesome day, except for the evening because we were stuck in the airport because of the heavy fog. But they were very excited, and they started to applaud when the brand was explained and showed. The brand materials were awesomely implemented by the in-house design team, and it seemed they were ready for the next step for great people to work with. I have a note with a quote by Willie Wallace here that says, “If you cannot train your own staff in what you are, in what you think, in what you believe, how you behave, and what your moves and precepts are, how the hell can you expect to train the customers?”
Andra Zaharia: However, it’s not all butterflies and rainbows when you work on a rebrand. As the lead on the project, Ciprian faced an unexpected challenge that made him reconsider an essential decision. Let’s hear all about that.
Ciprian Robu: At some point, I think the project was delayed for a few days, or I think a week or two – I don’t remember, it was a year ago – and it was a design-driven challenge this time. In the initial presentation of the visual identity’s proposals, we presented as usual: the logo, the color palettes, the typography, the other brand properties, the photography styles, and so on. And I remember, for the logo that was chosen, I chose a very modern typeface with a lot of character, and we were happy about the way it worked, both on print and on screen. But exactly on that day, a big competitor announced their rebranding, and I was shocked to see that they were using the same typeface for their own voice. And it was a direct competitor. It happens extremely rare, but it happens in this industry. Also, the Bannersnack team wanted a global typeface, so it’s a whole new level when you search for a voice in Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, Japanese, Chinese. A new search and research were done, and after a few full days, we had a new winner, which was called Ping. It has a cool name – both us and the Creatopy team fell in love with this new voice of the brand. So, I think it was like a divine sign that I was able to see that on that moment.
Andra Zaharia: A rebrand is a transformative process not just for the company itself but also for the people in it. Listening to Creatopy’s founder speak about this graduation-like moment in the company’s history might prompt you to reflect on your own posture and vision for the future. Let’s go into specifics and see these changes through his eyes.
Gabriel Ciordaș: The biggest change that I’ve noticed is that my colleagues have switched from “I think we should do that” to “The customer would want this and that.” So, this is a huge change because, you know, sometimes, when you work with a product, or when you develop a product for so many years, you have the impression that you know it all and that your ideas are the best and then you realize that the customer has a totally different perspective. We need to understand the customer and develop that rather than “I think I have a good idea. Let’s develop that.” Then you can call yourself a mature company. And I think if you look at all the big companies, they all do that. They want to make sure that they listen to their customer, they’re very focused on how to make him happy, how to make his life easier and better, and so forth. And this is the biggest change that I’ve seen inside the company. I remember, way back in the days, we used to sit down and say, “Okay, I think we should do this, I think we should do that. Okay, we made a list. All right, we have three things, five things – whatever – to develop. Let’s get started.” Now we are doing for every single bit of change that we’re creating, we are looking at the customer, we’re looking obviously at the competitors because we need to make sure that we’re always better than them. And based on these two factors, we start executing things. So, this is a huge change. It takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of effort, but once you reach here, the sky’s the limit as far as customer satisfaction.
Gabriel Ciordaș: Key differentiators – I kind of said two of them: creativity, efficiency – and given the long history that we have, we understand that almost all companies go through the same processes when their creative people need to deliver. So, once you understand the process of each category – because Creatopy will not only address a certain category of employees – we hope and we believe that Creatopy will be used by several layers of people, from designers, marketers, HR to management. Everybody that wants to communicate internally or externally, they will use Creatopy because Creatopy is a tool that will help you communicate in a standard if you want. Also, we will help you automate certain things because just to give you an example, you need a huge campaign with tons of creatives. The alternative right now is to create each one of them differently. Now, we have an automation tool that basically allows you to create it once or twice and then replicate it in all the sizes and shapes and forms and so forth. So it’s very, very important to understand the way customers work and to understand each level of the target market that we have, so we can address each one of them in order to make things smoother, better, easier, cheaper maybe as far as cost – or cost-effective, not cheaper, I would say. So combining all these, you come up with a perfect picture of what your product needs to look like.
Andra Zaharia: From giving Bannersnack a new name and a new identity to harnessing the values and principles that make a company last, we’ve covered it all in this special episode. To wrap up, we hand-picked the key lessons that the founder and the lead brand designer learned through it all. Broaden your view using their personal experience so you’ll step into your next project with an elevated perspective.
Gabriel Ciordaș: My advice looking back, probably is to work with the best people in the industry. As far as employees and as far as companies that you collaborate with – agency, whatever – that’s key. I mean, you don’t have a lot of shots. It’s not like you made a mistake, you’ll try another one, you’ll make a mistake. I think a rebrand if it’s a failure, your whole company goes bust. You have to be very, very attentive at that. Number two probably, I would say, be 110% focused on customer needs. Number three, keep a very, very close eye on your competitors. Never underestimate competitors, make sure it’s a huge level of respect with the good ones because that will keep your feet on the ground and your brain sharp. If you work with the best, if you focus on customers, if you keep a close eye on your competitors, that should better summarize everything that you need to do when you do a rebrand.
Ciprian Robu: It is essential to understand the strategy and the overall context. Otherwise, as I said earlier, you’ll end up creating false solutions for false problems. I remember in my first week at Brandient, almost six or seven years ago, Aneta Bogdan called me to her office, closed the door, and said to me, “You’re here because we think you know how to draw. But in order to be a real designer, you must understand and learn two things: branding and business.” I think that’s why it’s important to understand the strategy and the context of these words. I think it also helped a lot that I’m a digitally native. The computer, of course, is in my DNA as the designer, even if I always start with a pen, a pencil, and paper. In this specific case, it helps that is the nature of my job. I am a designer, and Creatopy is a visual production platform. So, I understand the product, its insides, and yeah, I’m on target.
Ciprian Robu: I think one of the most valuable lessons learned while working on the Bannersnack’s rebrand was not to follow visual trends. I already was an acolyte of this theory, but when I chose the typeface, as I talked earlier, for the brand, for the first time, I went with a very trendy one. I knew it was a chance to become popular at some point in the future, but I wasn’t expected to be used by so many brands and in such a short amount of time. So, I think it was divine intervention that I saw the other competitor’s rebranding showcase and change it in time.
Ciprian Robu: A more personal lesson learned, and I think the most important one, is to have fun, even when the overall situation is not great. It was a moment, I think, one year ago – so, Christmas was coming, my energy level was very low. And I had to finish the brand guidelines brand book for Creatopy. I started, as usual, planning it on a piece of paper, then Kip, my creative director, saw me and asked me if I needed some help. I told him, “Yeah, sure. Help me to write this chapter and this chapter, as I’m feeling a bit lost. I don’t know how to start. I’m very low energy.” And the next day, he sent me a draft, and my attitude completely changed. The way he wrote out the document inspired me very much to rethink the whole brand book, and my energy levels increased again. He treated it with wits, with humor, with creativity. It wasn’t just a technical brand book. It was like a pure source of inspiration for me. I started to write too, and come up with ideas. And in the end, the Creatopy brand book was one of my favorite brand manifestations, and I hope that will be a source of inspiration for the in-house designers as it was for me at that time.
Andra Zaharia: Now that you’ve seen the part of this rebranding “iceberg” that sits beneath the surface, we hope you stick around for more transformational stories. This entire season is packed with insightful conversations featuring some of the most thoughtful, empathetic, and ambitious branding leaders. We hope each story and example serve you on your path to becoming a bolder creator, a generous contributor, and a more connected member of the creative community.
Andra Zaharia: Thanks for exploring another fascinating rebranding process with us. If you found it helpful, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast app and leave us a review. Until next time, this is Andra Zaharia. Thanks for listening to the Drag & Drop show by Creatopy.