Marketing Campaigns

With the Top 10 (Other) Best Rebrands & Refreshes

We can’t believe we’re already celebrating the one-year anniversary of Strata’s brand refresh. It’s been quite a year (to say the least). But we can honestly say that, with all of the struggles of 2020-2021, our brand refresh wasn’t one of them. If it did anything (and it did a lot), it definitely brought us together, made us more confident, and better showcased our personality, vision, team, and solutions. The brand refresh catapulted Strata into 2020, helping us solidify our style and services, attract new talent, and stay inspired.

When we decided we needed a new look – we had to pick between a full rebrand or a refresh. For us, the answer was easy. A complete rebrand would have required scrapping our identity and starting from scratch, where a refresh allowed us to keep our main identity and strategy intact. Our brand was strong with our current clients and we had a great reputation as problem solvers and solutions experts – so a refresh was perfect for what we needed to do.

With any rebrand or brand refresh – “consistency across all channels is key”. Over the past year, we’ve ensured that all our materials – from website to print, are on-brand.

Since we now have a bit of rebrand and refresh experience under our belts, we wanted to take a look at the top 10 best company rebrands and refreshes (in our eyes) besides Strata’s, of course.

Our Top 10

Dropbox

Dropbox refreshed its brand in 2017, and it was nothing short of successful. The company worked with design studio “Collins” to create a cleaner and simpler logo and lots of illustrative elements to better connect with their primarily creative and collaborative audience.

Airbnb

Airbnb did a full rebrand in 2014 with Design Studio, sending their team of designers to 13 cities to truly immerse themselves in Airbnb’s offerings, community, and mission. It resulted in a beautiful brand that differentiated Airbnb from its similar competitors. The CEO of Airbnb even stated, “When I look at this brand, I suddenly realized everything I’ve been trying to say, now we have a way to express it.”

Walmart

“There are very few companies in the world that managed to change the public perception of their brand as successfully as Walmart did.” In 2008, Walmart made this change to get away from their “always low prices” slogan that often-made customers feel like it was also “always low quality”. They also wanted to steer clear of the questionable corporate practices they were called out for in the early 2000s. So, Walmart did a complete 360 with a whole new brand from redesigned stores to a new look and personality.

Southwest

We love this brand refresh because it reminds us of ours. Without a complete overhaul, Southwest changed its look and logo to showcase their humanity and heart – literally.

Guinness

Good old Guinness. Many love it, others don’t, but it always holds true that Guinness makes us feel like we’re back in the olden days, sipping a brew in the pub. Instead of following the crowd of flat logo designs, Guinness actually added detail to its logo in 2016, working “with real harp makers to breathe new life into the legendary logo” that “could be built into an actual harp that would work properly and be in tune.”

Starbucks

Starbucks is loved by many – and dare we say it – is mainly successful because of its brand (although we do love it a latte). They’ve made slight changes over time to the brand, always increasing their user experience and recognizability with a “distinctive color scheme, typography, and illustrations.”

Taco Bell

You may not have really noticed Taco Bell’s brand refresh until now – but its cleaner, simpler look has helped it stay relevant among its many fast food and taco chain competitors. Along with this well-done refresh, Taco Bell has been named “one of the healthiest fast-food chains in America,” so, they’re doing quite well.

Mastercard

In 2016, Mastercard conducted a refresh with Pentagram to emphasize “simplicity, connectivity and seamlessness.” It’s simple and sleek look of just the famous two overlapping circles is surprising, but logic-based. “The change follows research by Mastercard that found that more than three quarters of people asked were able to identify the brand from the two interlocking circles alone.

Burger King

For the first time in 20 years, Burger King conducted a brand refresh with a new logo, uniforms, and packaging – and we love its nostalgic look. The new logo is actually very close to BK’s logo design from the 70s-90s. The creative agency on the project wanted to “pay homage to the brand’s heritage with a refined design that’s confident, simple and fun.”

Intel

Last but not least, Intel’s 2020 refresh caught our eye because of its subtle hints to past logos. Again, it refers back to their past while being currently relevant. “This new logo includes elements of both (past logos), but in a much more subtle, minimalist way.”

To take a more in-depth look back at our brand refresh, visit our original refresh blog, here. If you’re looking to make your branding and marketing communications more effective and efficient, give Strata a call.

Get to Know These Tracking Treats

Within the world of marketing, there’s a lot of buzz around the topic of cookies and what the future holds for tracking website visitors and generating personalized advertisements. While the topic’s relevant, not many people are completely informed on what cookies are and the impact they have on our ability to create better customer experiences. In this blog, we’re going over what cookies are, the differences between first-party and third-party cookies, and the future of online tracking.

So, What Are “Cookies”?

Although many of us are “foodies” here at Strata, and could talk about a good dessert all day, this blog isn’t about Oreo or Chips Ahoy. We’re talking about web “cookies” – text files put into a user’s browser page while they’re visiting a website. Cookies are known by several names – web cookie, internet cookie, browser cookie, or HTTP cookie, but they’re all the same, and in general, they track and log browsing activity against identification data such as IP addresses. Why is this information useful? Primarily, cookies help save information about a user in order to personalize their website experience and the advertisements they’re shown.

While cookies have enjoyed a childhood free of regulation, their “free-willy” time is coming to an end with recent regulatory initiatives driven by an increase in public concern over internet privacy. The first major change came when General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) made consent mandatory in order to track visitors on a website. To give you a feel for the impact of GDPR – about 11% of users click to “accept all cookies”, 76% of users ignore the banner completely, 12% close the cookie banner, and 0.5% of users actually open up cookie settings, read through terms and agreements, and sometimes make adjustments. These numbers are misleading, however – what GDPR essentially did was force the user to choose between viewing the desired content and accepting cookies OR (with exceptions) leaving the site entirely. So, while it looked good – almost all of the visitors in the stats above were still being tracked.

At this point, you might be thinking that we need to eradicate the cookie – if so, hold that thought. Cookies almost always make your experience on the web better – they’re your friend, not your enemy. To solve privacy concerns – which is the intent of all privacy-centric regulation – we’ll need to jump down a level. There are two major types of cookies – First-Party and Third-Party. Both contain the same pieces of data and technically can conduct the same actions, but they’re created differently, used differently, and have different benefits for distinctive situations. Let’s get into each one.

First-Party Cookies

Simply put, first party cookie technology is usually installed or authorized by a website’s owner and only tracks that user across that specific website. First-party cookies are set on the publisher’s server or on the JavaScript loaded to the website. Their defining technical feature is that, for the most part, only the domain that created the cookie can access it, thus they are seen as less invasive and are more welcomed by users.

These cookies allow website owners to collect analytical data, remember individual user settings or content (remembering what’s in a user’s shopping cart, their language preferences, or their username and password), and perform useful functions to provide better user experience. That last part is important – first-party cookies primary purpose is to deliver more relevant, user-friendly experiences to individuals. If you’d like to see the difference they make, just clear your browser cache and visit some of your favorite websites.

Third-Party Cookies

Contrasting first-party cookies, third-party cookies are not created by the domain of the website the user’s currently visiting, and therefore, can often seem intrusive and un-welcomed. This type of cookie is placed by another site, such as an advertiser or social media platform like ad.doubleclick.net – and is separate from the home domain. These cookies are usually used for online advertising purposes, and are added through a script, code, or tag to track a user across several websites. Enabling these cookies can help users see relevant discounts and catered advertisements, but can also possibly involve them in a breach of privacy. For this reason, third-party cookies are blocked by many browsers, and are currently being chastised as unethical.

Phase Out of Third-Party Cookies

In February of 2020, Google announced its phase out of third-party cookies by 2022. When this occurs, it will cause 56% of web browsers (the percentage that use Google Chrome) to block their use automatically. As stated by Google, their reasoning for forcing this phase out is to increase security and protect the user. You have to wonder, however – are ethics the driving principle here, or is this a strategic move to further corner the digital advertising market?

All-in-all, this change won’t make as much of a difference as you’d think, as a 2017 study showed that 64% of tracking cookies were already being blocked as users surfed the web. Those at Google seem to think that third-party cookies will not be replaced by another resource due to increasing privacy concerns, but they’ll continue to “support first-party relationships on our ad platforms for partners, in which they have direct connections with their own customers.”

What’s Next for Cookies?

No matter what the circumstances with third-party cookies, first-party cookies are definitely here to stay. If configured correctly, they’ll continue to function within most browsers – even if those browsers block third-party cookies. So – fear not – first-party cookies will provide marketers hindsight and insight on your website visitors for the foreseeable future – even if you might now be forced to use Google to reach them.

Now that you know a bit more about cookies, you may be motivated to improve and optimize your next digital marketing campaign. If so, contact us today.

Straight from Our Creative Designer

If you’ve read any of Strata’s blogs, you know that we believe in the power and effectiveness of good marketing. We believe not only in planning, strategy, organization, touchpoints, messaging, and call to actions, but in the great design. Without great design, you could be missing out on a ton of potential customers through failure to grab their attention. Because design has such a wide range of options (nearly endless), we’ve compiled a shortlist of design trends you should keep in mind when planning and executing your next marketing campaign.

Revitalized Layout & Structure

Minimalism

Minimalism is a buzzword that simply never goes out of style. Minimalist design is clean, simple, and sleek, and because of its bare nature, makes the viewer pay attention to the most important details on the page or in the email, letting them know exactly what you want them to do (for instance, a call-to-action) or what you want them to understand. When designing minimally, don’t be afraid to use white space, interesting hierarchy, and unique spacing. Mix it up and surprise your audience with something different and less busy than the rest of your work.

Digitally, audiences are now looking for “simple, sleek, easy-to-use interfaces. If you’re unsure how to simplify your website for a more minimalist design, use tools like eye-tracking tests to see where your viewers are focusing. Once you have eye-tracking data, you can simplify your website to include just those areas that are important to and effective on viewers. It’s also important to eliminate unnecessary pop-ups that can distract from relevant content. “Ensure the user journey is purposeful by opting for simple and time-saving design features so they can easily search for items of interest.”

Storytelling

In marketing, we’re almost always telling a story. It’s important to make sure that the story is not only conveyed by words – but by imagery and layout too. “…more than ever, consumers are looking to buy from brands they can relate to, that feel approachable, relevant and authentic. To achieve a genuine connection, designers and marketers should use storytelling.” Make your story even stronger and increasingly significant to customers with personalization and tailored content, product value, and authenticity. One of the best ways to tell your story is through video, which is why we’ve just launched our new YouTube channel. Take a look to see how we tell our story(s) through imagery and video.

S-Curve Layout

The “s-curve” layout is a unique way of leading the viewers eye down or across a webpage, email, or even a printed document. It’s formed by using imagery on the left, words on the right, and then words on the right, and imagery on the left (or another similar variation) to bring the viewer’s focus from left to right, back and forth. This helps potential and current customers better understand the marketing they’re looking through, but also keeps their attention as they do so.

Spruce Up Your Imagery

Hand-Drawn Graphics

This type of design can help your company stand out among the rest of the modern, boxy design that’s more popularly used. In today’s digital world, “it is so rare to get a handwritten note from someone that when we do, it feels extra personal.” Adding a small sketch or unique handwritten note to your design, without overdoing it, can increase its authenticity, personalization, and the overall personality of your marketing materials.

Illustrated Iconography

Iconography has been hugely popular for a long time, mostly due to its easy-to-digest nature. It’s a simplistic way to get certain company ideas and information across, such as product offerings, features, and company values. Yet, these days, “icons have been granted much more visual prominence. Conveying brand personality, unique artworks and most importantly, clearly communicating the intended message”. We’re now using them for much more than just features, and making them a lot more interesting to look at than just a simplistic phone symbol. Illustrated and unique icons can be used to help your company stand apart from the crowd, and distinctively illustrate your brand. “Aside from speeding up loading times with lightweight graphics, icons—especially zhuzhed up icons—soften brand identities and encourage an emotional connection to be made with the audience.”

Surrealism

Since the beginning of 2020, reality has often seemed very surreal, making all of us question what we really know to be true and trustworthy. “Considering how mixed up –– and messed up –– day-to-day life often seems; it’s no wonder graphic design is exploring imagery that bends the edges of reality.” Using strange, juxtaposing, and even somewhat jarring elements can catch a viewer’s attention yet also feel oddly familiar if they’re more adapted to strange happenings and visuals. Play around with imagery that tells the story in a more imaginative way, and see how your audience responds. It just might strike a chord!

Data Visualization

Artwork is beautiful – but data is important. Your customer may like how your brand and imagery looks, but they’ll likely love imagery that conveys facts and figures they can trust and understand. Data can be overwhelming when it’s simply delivered using a ton of words and numbers, so using imagery to make the information more readable, understandable, and visually appealing is often the way to go. And, if done right, “prospects can be encouraged to become customers through data.”

Refresh Your Branding Design

Pops of Color

Even if your brand is more neutral and duller, you can always spice things up with a few pops of color at the right place and time. A good splash of color can help bring a message to life without losing brand identity – if done correctly. Here’s a good example from Airbnb. Their brand colors are primarily a bright magenta/red and white, but here, they use a ton of colors to energize a host award without taking away from their overall brand image.

Bold Typography

No matter who your audience – young, middle-aged, or older, bright and bold type is exciting and eye-catching. It draws the reader in, if used in the right place(s), and catches anyone’s attention for at least a few seconds, even from far away. Plus, large type provides maximum readability, as long as the font isn’t too out-there.

Incorporate Cultural Happenings

Socially Conscious Design & Authentic Representation

Social consciousness. Diversity. Representation. Understanding. All of these – in today’s world and into the future, are extremely important and at the top of many customer’s minds. In our current society, “design and culture are integrally connected.” Showing a better future through imagery and design can often be the best way to facilitate change. This year and in 2020 especially, “social unrest and movements for anti-racism have captured national attention,” so you were remiss as a company if you didn’t at least acknowledge or even take a stance on these issues. Socially conscious design with authentic representation of several ethnicities, cultures, sexualities, and more has become a huge part of graphic design practices. “Within the theme of socially conscious design, key trends include authentic representationsustainability, and celebrating diversity and imperfection.”

Sustainability & Natural Elements

Environmental concern. Sustainability. Eco friendly practices. These, too are at the forefront of today’s initiatives, especially after a tough year where many of us have been consistently indoors. We were truly forced to take a better look at our outside world, and our impact on it. Many companies, including Strata (through Operation Eco) are focused on preserving the earth and sustaining the health of our planet. Through natural imagery and sustainable design your company can further convey your care and efforts, and give your audience a sense of peace and tranquility. “As consumers think about waste and their environmental footprint more than ever before…expect to see more and more packaging designs that emphasize sustainability through natural iconography, neutral color palettes, and eco-conscious materials.”

Optimism & Support

Lastly, although we’ve had a rough last year or so, we can finally see brighter days ahead, and so can our customers! Show your support and emphasize this brightness with optimistic design and “good news” layouts. Make your audience feel a sense of trust for your company by showing that you care for them and empathize with their current struggles.

Looking to implement some of these unique design practices into your marketing campaigns, but still not sure where to start? Contact Strata.