24 May 2018 Rebranding Swipii: The Rewarding Journey
It was back on July 16 2013 when Swipii v4 was officially born…
An original drawing by the Co-Founder and COO Louis Schena no less, which over the next year or so during our early product development days, was transformed into the Swipii logo that has graced our company ever since.
Not bad eh…(and for the record it is a Squid!)
By 2016 the Swipii brand was popping up more and more across the whole UK.
In just 18 short months we grew from 300 businesses using Swipii to over 2000. At the same time we grew our user base from 300,000 to almost 1 million – all collecting points and redeeming rewards in these businesses every day.
Along the way we achieved several milestones which we are very proud of:
- UK’s Top 100 Start Up
- Europe’s top 100 Disruptive start-up in the retail industry
- Co-Founders featured as Forbes ‘30 under 30’ Winners
We also won the Best ‘Loyalty, CRM & Personalisation’ award at the UK Digital Experience awards in 2016/17.
An Oscar moment for the business 😀
Swipii was indeed growing fast…
But from a purely branding perspective and how Swipii was being positioned, we had problems. And now was right time to take a step back and look ahead to the future.
We asked ourselves some tough questions about the Swipii brand, but they all tended to come back to the same one:
Will the current Swipii branding – as it sits today – help take the business where it needs to be over the next five to ten years?
In the back of our minds we knew the business had big plans for 2018 including some significant product developments.
The answer to the questions therefore was a huge resounding NO.
It was time for a (much needed) change
So, back in October 2017, it was universally agreed that the Swipii branding needed to change.
We were working with no clear brand guidelines for example, so our creative was a little erratic and marketing campaigns were being created ad hoc. Add in the fact our ‘no idea where it came from’ colour palette was a little dull, and you just end up with some less than inspiring creative pieces for a brand that was meant to be bright and fun.
Over the last few years we’d also tried and tested straplines like #longlivelocal and “Redefining Loyalty, The Fun Way” but neither has really stuck as we’ve tried to balance the personality between that of having a more serious tone for businesses and a lighter side for our users.
Oh, and did you know that the ‘S’ in the Swipii text is actually a different font? Another good example of the kinda challenges we were facing.
We even played around with our Swipii squid to try and add some character and fun to things…
But it just didn’t feel right. It was all a little disjointed.
Swipii is all about having fun. Being bold. Friendly. And this just wasn’t coming across in our marketing to both our business partners and our users.
If anything, we were almost trying too hard to make everything look fun.
We needed to discover the real Swipii and find a way to get this message across.
It quickly became apparent however that the only way to get the job done properly was to enrol the help of the experts.
It’s all well and good watching some videos about how successful Steve Jobs was at positioning the Apple brand, but when you dig deeper and realise that even the greats sought help – in Steve Jobs case from Chiat Day – there is no shame in asking for help.
So I created a detailed agency brief in November 17…
This outlined the vision for Swipii and what I believed the company stood for and where we wanted to go in the future. I then sent it out to a number of agencies across the UK and waited for notes of interest.
Thankfully we got an amazing response and created our shortlist.
Ultimately we were looking for a branding agency that truly understood Swipii. One that would work with us closely, like a true partnership. An agency that would take the time to really understand our product, our vision and the challenges we faced as we tried to communicate our message to two very different target audiences and scale up.
The Point of No Return
Fortunately for us, we found 999 who just so happened to be based here in Glasgow.
Not only did they understand the Swipii product, but many of their staff were all Swipii users, so they already had a very good understanding of not only how did Swipii work from an operations point of view, but from a value proposition aspect.
What really made them stand out though, was their passion for the Swipii brand and this came across in those early meetings. You could just tell they were keen to get started.
Our decision was made. We appointed 999 as our branding partner and we got to work in early Feb 2017.
And how long did the whole rebranding process take from brief to end result?
Overall the project once we got started with 999 took about 4 months.
The road to discovering our brand message
999 have a very clear process and proven formula to follow in order to get to the end result. And we were all on board with it.
To kick things off with 999, we had a few discovery sessions where we went back and forwards on some early concepts and ideas to try and set the right direction from the outset and flush out some ideas.
I was very conscious of the ‘one degree mistake’ where if you start your journey off by just one degree, your final destination can end up being out by hundreds of miles!
We also consulted with internal stakeholders and ran feedback surveys with our merchant and user bases. All of which proved very insightful and made for very interesting reading during those discovery sessions.
By listening to our users and merchants, we realised words like fun, loyalty, quirky, data, rewards, insights, friendly and relatable came up a lot when referring to Swipii. That’s some great feedback for us to work with.
We also discovered some fun insights – like learning that a lot of our users confused the Swipii ‘squid’ with Snapchats ‘ghost’. 🙀
So Swipii isn’t just about loyalty and rewards. It’s about much more. It’s about data and insights and how we help businesses connect with their customers better, in a fun and rewarding way.
We hit a major roadblock…
At the same time though, we hit a fairly huge sticking point…
What were we going to do with our Swipii squid?
As we entered the ‘Define’ phase with 999, and reviewed some early logo concepts it became very clear that bringing our Swipii squid up to date was going to prove much more trickier than we first thought.
Naturally we looked at some recent examples where similar transformations had taken place successfully to give us some guidance. So we looked closely at the likes of Airbnb, Deliveroo, Moonpig, Formula 1 and the Premier League just to name a few.
We explored a few Octopus styles to get a feel for our options.
None really inspired though. They were just so different to the Swipii squid we all knew and loved.
So we agreed with 999, that they would go away and work on a few logo and icon styles with and without the Squid. From there a decision would then need to be made as time was dragging on.
We regrouped a week or so later and reviewed the concepts below.
The Swipii team didn’t love them to be honest.
And I think this was down to both Swipii and 999 focusing so much energy on trying to get the look and feel of the Squid right that we were neglecting everything else.
At this meeting we all agreed that the process of bringing our Swipii squid up to date was just holding back the whole rebranding process.
I would like to say it was a tough decision, but it wasn’t…
We referred back to the user survey where we asked the question:
If Swipii removed the octopus from their logo and communications how would you feel?
50% said they honestly wouldn’t care. Whereas the other 50% were more in favour.
So our Swipii squid for the time being at least, was put back in her den. 😥
We moved on.
Crafting our new identity and messaging
One of the key challenges we’ve always had at Swipii was trying to find a consistent way to communicate different messages to both our merchants and users whilst retaining the same look and feel when it came to the creative.
Someone should be able to look at our different creatives and know instantly that this is a Swipii message.
On one hand we want to communicate to merchants the benefits of using Swipii from an ROI angle. Whilst on the other hand we want to engage with users about the free, fun and rewarding aspect of using Swipii.
Both are very different.
As 999 pointed out to us, it’s a bit like the old Rabbit and Duck illusion. Is it a rabbit or is it a duck?
So how does Swipii strike that same balance and remain consistent to both audiences?
Thankfully (and I do mean thankfully) we managed to put this query to bed very quickly.
Early on in the rebranding process, 999 revealed a concept they had come up with called “Enjoy more”. And it just worked.
Here was the very slide with the “Enjoy more” creative that we saw.
At first I was like “ummmm….” But then we saw the very next slide and the direction they were going with this idea…
For business messaging we could go with something like:
We were focusing in on the benefits that business owners would have when they used Swipii.
And for our users we could go with:
We were able to retain the “Enjoy more” messaging, but by swapping out the ending we opened up so many new possibilities.
This was a great start.
Now, whilst “Enjoy more…” worked at a messaging level, we felt a more powerful brand strapline would add more gravitas and help explain the Swipii offering to all audiences.
Our shortlist after due process included:
For Swipii there was a clear winner…”Always Rewarding”.
It just felt right. It was succinct and on point.
And we felt it tied in nicely to what our users and merchants said about us in those earlier surveys.
Always rewarding is a succinct expression of our brand proposition. Rewards are at the heart of everything we do. And not just for our users and merchants. For our own staff here at Swipii also.
We are always rewarding our retailers by introducing new customers, providing additional marketing services and finding new ways to boost their sales. Our consumers are rewarded by building loyalty points that can be redeemed in-store. And we aim to always reward our staff through many different initiatives.
Expressing our new identity for everyone
The core components were now in place.
999 took a few additional weeks to bring it all together, and present the new Swipii identity to us.
This included our new logo. Designed to reflect our personality – bold, vibrant, friendly and approachable. We also developed our new brand strapline ‘Always Rewarding’.
Both work well independently, but they’ve also have been designed to work well together:
And we swapped out our rather dull looking colour palette for a bright, bold and unmistakable look. It’s a big part of who we are, and we don’t want to be afraid to use it.
As well as using our colours full strength, there’s lots of scope to use tints and shades.
For example, these can be used at 75%, 50% and 25% of the full strength colour, which gives us a lot more flexibility and options within our creativity.
The idea of Swipii being bold has been further enhanced through our chosen photography. We’ve selected a bold photography style combining objects associated with various business sectors all positioned on colourful, contemporary backgrounds.
Here’s just a couple of quick examples of how that could work with two tone backgrounds and bright industry sector focused imagery:
The big reveal
So about this point, I was hoping to show you our new branding on a very top secret project we’ve been working hard on for the past 6 months…but timescales were just a little to tight. So look out for that big reveal next week! Nothing’s perfect I guess.
However we do want to share with you some of the early creatives we’ve developed, so look out for these appearing somewhere near you very soon.
Brand Led Messaging:
These ideas focus on Swipii and our messaging. As you can see they really let the brand come to the fore and express our new logo boldly within any sector.
And these work really well whether we are communicating to our merchants, users or Swipii staff!
Messaging Led Adverts:
These examples are more around how we could use the “Enjoy more…” message. Note the wide use of our new colour palette whilst retaining the fact this is Swipii.
Everyone here at Swipii is delighted with the end results. And it’s only the beginning. We still have to update a lot of our public facing assets, so please bare with us over the next month or so if you still see our ‘old’ branding.
The whole company (especially the marketing department) can’t wait to take what we’ve developed and show it off to the rest of the world.
But what about our Swipii squid icon? Has she been brought back out of her den?
Well, for the time being at least she is on an extended seacation, enjoying some R&R in her den. She’s done her job…for now at least. 🐙 🙏
So what do you think of the new branding? Will we please everyone? Probably not.
But we’ve really tried hard during the course of this rebranding exercise to bring the true values and personality behind Swipii to the front.
We do hope you like it.