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How a rebrand helped us sharpen our focus and show our true colors Image How a rebrand helped us sharpen our focus and show our true colors Image
diff Blog
6
min

How a rebrand helped us sharpen our focus and show our true colors

We sat down with the Senior Leadership Team at diff—in their brand new office space in downtown Montreal—to talk about everything from how important brand values are to how crappy their website used to be (and why that didn’t really matter at the time).

How word of mouth worked (for a while)

Like a lot of young companies in growth mode, diff didn’t prioritize their own corporate identity right out of the gate. “Our focus wasn’t on marketing ourselves,” says Reda Magani, COO and CFO. “Our clients were small and medium businesses who cared more about the work we were doing than what our logo looked like.”

So, instead of building a brand, the company built a reputation. And it served them well at the time, as word of mouth about diff’s capabilities spread through the industry. “We needed to get the clients in,” agrees Hai-Long Nguyen, Director, System Integrations. “Our first priority was to have a scalable model and ensure that we could sustain what we were doing.”

But as the company racked up more and more industry awards and accolades, enterprise-level clients started looking their way, and what they saw didn’t reflect what the company had become. “We had the absolute worst website that wasn’t representative of any of the work we were doing.”

Obviously, that perception had to change.


Defining who we are: Mission, vision and values

To kick off things off, diff enlisted the services of a consulting firm to guide them through a mission, vision and values exercise, which informed every aspect of the rebrand that followed.

“Authenticity is super important,” says Melissa Pegus, Head of Revenue. “We didn’t say, ‘We want a prettier design, and then we’ll figure out our vision, mission, values and culture.’ Instead, we used those key elements as a foundation for the rebrand.”

Consulting the diff team and external clients and partners was a key part of this process. “You can’t just put five people in a room and come up with values,” says Hai-Long. “You need to make sure that everyone’s voice is well represented.”

Matt Humphreys, Chief Experience Officer, says the process wasn’t about redefining diff so much as it was about articulating what the team already stood for. “We were already living by these values,” Matt says. “We just didn’t have them on a signpost. And when you signpost something, you’re accountable for it.”

“The process was very beneficial for all of us,” says Reda. “Now we know each other better and there’s no doubt about who we are.”

Showcasing what we do: our full scope of services

From there, diff and a team of branding consultants set out to create their new toolbox, complete with everything from a refreshed logo to a brand new look and feel. “The process was really intentional,” Reda says. “We put our hearts into the rebrand. Our goal was to build an identity that represents us as passionate and creative people.”

That included coming up with a tagline to communicate diff’s unique position in the industry. Long love retail celebrates the agency’s history in the brick and mortar world and its desire to shape the future of e-commerce.

To that end, diff has been doing more and more omnichannel implementations to bridge the gap between in-store and online shopping and create a more unified experience overall.

“As retail grows, you have to do more to be competitive,” says Melissa Pegus. “We don’t want any of our customers, new or existing, to become stale or start to lose in the market. So, as the bar gets higher, we’ve also expanded our scope of services outside of our core area of technology and into areas like experience design and growth marketing. Our clients need to go places and we need to be equipped to take them there.”

Getting the message out about this more holistic offering was key, and the website was a great place to start. “Especially for newcomers, this is a channel for us to show what we do upfront,” adds Hai-Long. “It’s important for our clients to see that we’re offering complete solutions that address the viewpoints of every stakeholder involved, from the end consumer to the supply chain. That, to me, is what’s so special about diff, and what helps make the shopping experience better for everyone, everywhere.”


Celebrating how we work: a different kind of corporate culture

It turns out that the people who work at diff are pretty special too, and the senior leadership team saw the rebrand as an opportunity to celebrate that. 

“We needed to develop something completely different that represented us,” says Reda of the new diff website. “Everything is organic. It feels warm. It feels like a family. It feels like, hey, these guys are collaborating and having a lot of fun. It really represents our core values.”

Matt sees the rebrand as a better personification of how diff does business. “It reflects who we are as a group of people. We’re straight talkers. As designers, we need to be okay with failure and then succeed sooner. Being able to see that in our brand and live through those values directly with our clients is what keeps them coming back.”

It’s no surprise that the rebrand is also playing a role in recruiting new hires, especially those who are in the market for more than just job security. “People now have their choice of employers,” says Melissa. “It puts them in a position to say, ‘I need a job that aligns with my values and who I am as a person.”

With that in mind, the rebrand included an upgraded culture package complete with added perks and increased flexibility for the diff family. The team also recently moved to a new office space, which is being designed to reflect the rebrand from top to bottom. ”The guidelines will be implemented in every single room, from the bathrooms to the meeting rooms to how we greet people at the door,” says Reda. “It’s all about the user experience: all of those little details that build a compound interest.”

The corporate culture wasn’t the only thing that got an upgrade. “We also determined the MCM’s—the most critical moments—of the customer journey,” says Reda, “from talking to them the first time to delivering a project to doing continuous work with them, with the goal of upgrading their experience every step of the way to match our core values.”

That applies both to the new tier of clients that diff is attracting and the smaller ones that they’ve supported from the outset. “We wouldn’t have grown to where we are today if we didn’t work with small and medium businesses,” says Melissa. “Because we’ve supported them, a lot of our clients have become the big guys. Our goal is to be agile enough to continue to serve them as they grow their operations.”


Sharing what we’ve learned: advice for companies looking to rebrand

Diff is now poised to launch a 360-degree campaign complete with a content strategy, social media activation, email marketing, PR initiatives and on-site activations, including a booth at the upcoming IRCE.  

So, having gone through the process, what advice would they give others about to embark on a rebrand of their own?

“People need to feel like they’re a part of the changes,” says Melissa. “It can’t be something that’s handed to them. That’s really important.”

With a company like diff that offers a full spectrum of services, Hai-Long points to the importance of telling that story from every angle. “Teams need to feel represented in a rebrand, and see where they fit in the overall picture.”

Matt encourages companies to look to outside resources for insights and expertise. “It’s harder when you’re in the business to do something that’s going to change the outside perspective of the business.” Armed with the new guidelines, Matt and his creative team are now adapting them to everything from moodboards to client presentation decks. “With this benchmark established, we can grow the brand to represent us even better as we evolve.”

Reda cuts to the chase: “Be prepared for it!” he says. “Bring the right people around the table. Don’t be a single decision-maker. You need to understand your ecosystem very well and have an end vision in mind. Otherwise it’s just about the show.”

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