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It was only a few short days ago that BigCommerce revealed our new brand. There are a lot of things different about how BigCommerce looks to the average customer or internet user. Our colors have changed, our site design and flow has changed, how we capitalize our name has changed and, most importantly to us, our logo has changed.
We no longer have that “Bubble B” branding you once knew. BigCommerce has made a lot of internal changes over the last few years –– especially this past one. Our customer group has changed, which has caused massive shifts in how we iterate on our product and how we even talk to the market. There have certainly been some growing pains, like all quickly scaling midsize businesses experience, but we are so incredibly proud to present a new look and feel to the world. After all, we aren’t the company you knew a few years ago. We have matured –– and so have our customers.
That said, the design process behind such a branding overhaul didn’t happen overnight. So, I sat down with our Head of Design, Andrea Wagner, to talk through the thought process behind all of the changes. Like with any pivot, strategy, customer experience and knowing where to look for inspiration played a very, very big role.
The new BigCommerce logo is a big shift from previous versions. Can you talk to the new design and how you came up with the concept?
When designing a logo, there are three major concepts that you can convey: your company name, your categorical offering, or, more on the emotional side, your promise. Any logo is essentially a simplified mark that conveys one of these core ideas. The best logos are typically so simply constructed that are instantly recognizable.
We spent a good chunk of time exploring dozens of versions of each of these concepts and when we stepped back we found that our promise, to help merchants sell more than on any other ecommerce platform, was a consistent thread in all of our ideas. This concept of promising growth had a great pull for us both visually and emotionally, so we really dialed that in. We found that when we had additional visual elements to communicate being a platform, or a service that the mark was getting too abstract to have clear meaning for us at a glance.
We reduced and reduced and kept coming back to the simplest possible form of growth — the “up-and-to-the-right” basic line chart that everybody knows. We took that simple visual concept, which is our promise, and asked if we could somehow layer in the other concepts of our name and our category.
That’s really the story of the growth-mark and how it came to be. We drastically reduced the concept of our promise to it’s simplest form and then used that form to amplify our name and our category. In our logo, the counterspace of this growth chart is used to display ‘Big”, and then creates a visual contrast between “Big’ and “Commerce’, making that categorical concept very clear.
Let’s talk about that –– the counterspace. There is a lot of white space in the new designs. Like you said, it is very minimalistic. What was the thought process behind going in that direction?
When revisiting your look and feel, whether that exercise is part a rebrand or not, you really need to understand what is motivating you. If you aren’t clear about what your goals are, then it becomes nearly impossible to determine the most appropriate direction.
In our case, the new look and feel was necessary to signal the great shifts that BigCommerce has been making as a company but also to get us a bit more visual differentiation in the B2B ecommerce space. So ultimately, our motivation was to have a visual language that better demonstrates who we are and is also differentiated within the B2B world. We were trying to get to a visual language that BigCommerce can own. Imagine someone is quickly scrolling their Facebook or Instagram feed, what is the visual style that they’ll see and immediately associate with BigCommerce?
We explored those two drivers (differentiation and self-expression) in parallel to understand what our sandbox would be for color, typography and imagery. That exploration involved color theory to understand how our color palette would support our personality and our messaging, typographic research into editorial and financial display best practices, as well as a healthy amount of research to look at what our audience is seeing everyday and understand what their visual world is.
We aligned on this “minimalist” approach from a couple of different angles. First, in terms of how we use images: we call this approach to handling images “seamless.” It let’s us create pages and communications that feel more handcrafted than what many of our competitors are doing. That care for visual communications can really solidify your branding and your messages to your audience. The second way that we aligned on a minimal feel was very functional: our audience wants qualifications and they want details, and that means we have a lot of words that we need to display. So in an online environment, where most of our audience is coming into contact with us, we need to ensure that our pages are scannable and easy to read. The best way to achieve that is to embrace typographic hierarchy and use white-space to give rhythm to your pages and your messages.
Let’s talk more about the new colors and imagery. Can you walk us through the concept there?
We did definitely want to revisit our core color palette as part of updating our look and feel. We wanted to do that based on a few factors: the first was to make sure our colors are distinct and the other was to make sure they are friendly on screens.
Color is one of the best tools that brands have to convey their personality, so we considered several different color combinations that would play up different personality traits for us. When we evaluated the color combinations, it forced us to have a very important conversation about how much change would be appropriate and how drastically different we wanted our visuals to be. We decided that for us, we didn’t want to create such a drastic shift for our existing merchants. So for example, we didn’t want to cause any concern with them by one day having a hot pink control panel. Consideration for the experience of our existing merchants really guided us toward staying in the blue-family. But we wanted to re-evaluate the previous colors for readability and we also knew from experience using our color palette that we needed to have more colors to accommodate all of our needs.
So we dialed the blue into a bit warmer value, taking all of the green out of it to make sure it is very crisp on screen. We also extended our color family to include more blue values to ensure that we have tools for all of our channels and all of our audiences. So for example, a technology partner may get more of one specific color than someone who is considering BigCommerce as their ecommerce solution.
We also wanted to make sure that we had enough options that we can create balance. So if we only had dark colors for example, we would have difficulty creating contrast for readability, conversion, and balance of the mood. We wound up with six colors at the end, each with specific guidelines for how they are used.
And what about the typography? What was the needed change there?
We made the decision to change our brand font as part of our new look and feel. Our current font is heavily used by many other companies in many other industries, so it doesn’t necessarily support our goal of differentiation. Additionally, as we were starting to do more events and conferences, we found difficulty using our existing font in those environments.
We drew a lot of inspiration for our font selection from traditional editorial and financial institutions. The reason for that being that we know those fonts work well with small and large sizes, and are also very friendly for numbers — which is important to consider for our logged-in experience on our control panel.
We weighed the option of using a more traditional, serif font to support communicating the dependability of our service and our promise. But ultimately we worried that the connotation would be too traditional and established, which could work against us more than for us. The primary fear we had is that many people who are considering BigCommerce may be looking to depart from the traditional, which is in our space is the costly and difficult-to-manage installed or on-premise commerce solution.
We ultimately landed on a sans serif that was modern and geometric, but designed with diversity of sizing in mind. Gotham Narrow has so much in common with some of the great financial type-faces, but is less cost prohibitive for us. It’s a great sans-serif that works well at small and large sizes, and it’s numbers look fantastic.
Sounds like you thought about the merchant experience through the entire process. For them, how should they view this redesign? What does it mean for BigCommerce customers as a whole and why should they care?
I think merchants should care about our new logo and our new look and feel not only because it shows that BigCommerce is continuing to grow but also because it was designed with merchants in mind just as much as it was with BigCommerce in mind.
All of the visual decisions, from the font and color selection, to the use of more dashboard-like and editorial stylings have user-experience in mind. We considered the on-screen reading experience, the scannability of information and the overall emotional quality of being a modern company that merchants can rely on to help them grow.
The new logo is a reminder to everyone at BigCommerce everyday that we exist to help merchants sell more and stay focused on the success of our merchants and their stores.
For more information about the BigCommerce redesign, head on over to our branding redesign page.
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