A Short Case Study
I joined AdRoll as a visual designer in March 2017. I had never worked at a company with more than 200 people; let alone one with offices around the world. It was an exciting opportunity (even if it meant learning ato know about Facebook ads).
As I settled into my role, it became apparent that there were some major flaws with AdRoll's brand. Customers and peers knew us via strength of product and 10-year foothold in the ad-tech industry, but design had never been the company's focus. We had a decade's worth of visual assets by various designers, very little consistency, and brand guidelines that could be boiled down to "just make everything blue." Design decisions for individual projects often depended on the taste of stakeholders—leading to mixed results. The internal creative team, of which I'm a part of, was tasked with redefining AdRoll’s brand over the course of 4 months.
Because we were rebuilding the AdRoll identity from the ground up, we were able to bake in essential characteristics we felt were missing in the original iteration:
AdRoll's prior visual identity was a varied collage of different styles, with very little tying one project to the next aside from color. Creating new assets, like booths for events or covers for e-books, was always more difficult than it had to be because no concrete aesthetic guidelines had been established. We wanted to create a look and feel that was, if not exactly cutting edge, recognizably AdRoll, and flexible enough to evolve over time while accommodating a variety of projects.
Streamlining proved to be one of our most important undertakings. We cleared out hundreds of files that were filled with various icon styles, removed all unrecognizable decks, and replaced marketing jargon with language that was clear, engaging, and benefit-driven. We knew if we established a voice and pared down our assets to the essentials, we'd have a clearer picture of the company.
There are plenty of people who are excited about AdRoll's product, both at the office and among the customer base. For me personally, the product always seemed intangible—not a thing, but a many-layered service, and one I'd likely never use. I struggled with this aspect of my job a lot (I mean, how would you draw "audience segmentation" or "Intentmap") but found that I could use my relative ignorance as an advantage. In short: if I could understand my diagrams, or the contents of the deck I was assembling, then a potential customer probably could too. I designed with the layperson in mind.
In total, the AdRoll rebrand took us just over four months to complete and was handled entirely in-house. While the following early-stage concepts didn't end up making the final cut, they were vital to establishing our tone. I spent a lot of time combining our staff photographer's portraiture with graphic elements and illustration, as well as figuring out how we represented technology, such as phones and computers.
After many iterations, we settled on a direction that incorporated bold black outlines, nearly-neon colors, vibrant photography, and gradients. Businesses in the B2B space don’t typically have such bright, personable identities, and my team hopes that our efforts make AdRoll stand out.