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How To Deep Dive Before a Brand Identity

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On our work

Setting the stage.


Crafting a brand’s visual identity is so much more than slapping a logo and colour palette together. It’s giving voice to a cause. It’s putting a stake in the road where no one else will. It’s reflecting part of your audience and the things they care about. But most importantly, branding is strategic - a notion which is all too often lost in the modern agency. That strategic component is why Symetria came to Skyrocket for their brand identity, as strategy was at the core of their business too.

Symetria is a brand new cryptocurrency exchange designed for the battle-hardened trader. The first of the world’s exchanges had risen, fallen, and fallen again with only a few surviving the fallout. Traders were left burned by hacks. Entire exchanges went off the radar. It was the wild west of digital trading, and Symetria were paying keen attention to it all. They were timing their own entry into the market, but they were going to do it properly. They had thought of a way to prove everyone’s actions using a new type of blockchain technology, crystal clear for the world to see for the most accountable exchange on the market.

However, they had their work cut out for them. They needed to shine through the noise of a very crowded, competitive, and volatile market. They needed a brand that captured the truth of their ambition and the robust viability of their product. We got to work.

Diving deep. Really deep.


Our initial conversations with Symetria gave us the lay of the land. Now it was time to dig deep. Really deep. Why? Because strategy begins with knowledge. You can’t magically summon the ideas needed to cut through an incredibly complex market without knowing something - no matter how creative you are.

We began our discovery phase by running multiple workshops with Symetria to extract everything we could from them regarding their market, product, history, and values. We used some of our favourite brain tools such as business and value canvas maps, and a competitor matrix to visualize our discussions.

We then bolstered our understanding and assumptions with further research, diving into stakeholder interviews including many with actual exchange users. With over 30 thoughtful questions in hand, we triangulated our thoughts with the precious nuance of real users with real insights. This helped us draw a connection between the value of Symetria’s approach and the wants, needs, fears and values of their users.

We learned that our users were intelligent Gen-X’ers who have seen the internet come a long way. They wouldn’t be impressed by pushy advertising or the same recycled messaging. We needed to cut through to them directly, letting them know that we’re on the same page. In fact, we mapped everything we learned into a persona document - something we could hold that quickly summarized the people we cared about most. Here’s a sneak peek:

Our research didn’t end there. We had a good bridge between Symetria and its users, but we needed to see what the competition was doing. To do this, we plotted their market position by two important axis - completeness of vision vs ability to execute. Depending on the correlation between each axis, our competitors would range from niche start-ups to industry leaders. Our sources for plotting this information were largely from the competition themselves, for example in how they phrased their messaging and communications.

Finally, we wanted to ensure that we would carve out a unique visual space in the market by doing an Environmental Scan of the competitions visual brands. We mapped out the competition’s colours, logos, textures and web designs to gain a complete picture of the visual space they had occupied, then arranged them all in an Inspiration Board format.

With this in hand, we were ready to start moving.

Moving.


Based on our research, we knew that we couldn’t go out into the marketplace with cookie-cutter messaging and over-the-top visuals. Everything we did had to show the real worth of our product, our credibility, and our knowledge of users. Our brand team began to articulate the vision, mission, and other components of a verbal identity which crystalized the brand in just a few paragraphs. The design team was ready to portray these concepts visually.

We started with sketches. Many sketches. We poured our hearts and minds onto paper and iterated, altered, shifted and played until we landed on something that clicked.

[insert image of the symbol & wordmark]

The asterisk concept came from the simple symbolic representation of a password, a ‘code’ that any computer user would recognize - a recognizable welcome in the face of what can be an intimidating experience for some. It had overtones of security and tugged at the history of cryptography, but beyond the calm surface was an ocean of possibility.
Additionally, we needed something that could be flexible, especially in a marketplace moving so quickly. We got to work creating 8 different variations of the asterisk that can be used interchangeably to help present the brand in a different light depending on the application.

[insert the 8 icon set]

We made logo system for Symetria.
concept was.. all the users of Symetria have there personal identity with Symetria's identity.
We wanted to support Symetria each of their users of have the feeling that their accounts are unique and personalized.
There is Symetria’s asterisk as "the carrier".
"The carrier" is the symbol at its most distilled and practical form. It refers back to the primary 8-star symbol and is used as a substitute for the symbol where legibility constraints are a concern– eg. social media, exchange site listings, site favicon. It can be used creatively as a graphic shape for design layouts.
Then, we made 8 different type of asterisks. Each asterisks have different meanings.
Open, Power, Accountability, Signature, Personal, Fair, Future and Trade. Symbol variations work in conjunction with 4 secondary colours to generate more than 1 trillion permutations. A user can be represented through the 8-set colour variations, where a single generated permutation becomes a user's unique ID. The symbol can serve as a unique coding system. For example, one permutation can be created for a specific company event, and all materials for the event would use this 'branded' permutation in their design.]


Combined with the carefully sculpted wordmark and high-security colour palette, Symetria was ready to do business without guessing where they’ll land. The research had been done, and the creative execution was on-point.  

Where to from here?


Symetria is now rolling out their new brand across their product, before launching to the market in Q2 2019. We’ve even designed a brand new landing page which showcases the brand in all its glory, ready to be that breath of fresh air that cryptocurrency traders are waiting for. There are also a few other plans in the pipeline, but we can’t tell you about them just yet. What we can tell you, is that working with a team as strategic and focused as Symetria is a true blessing for us - especially when their products aim to make everyone accountable for their actions.

Check back in with us as the story unfolds, or get started on your own story with us by contacting us today.

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Jagmeet Singh and Mo Dhaliwal - Skyrocket Digital, a digital agency in Vancouver, BC
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