July 10, 2014 Mitchell Derrey

Over a year and a half ago, we began updating the Silver Fox identity to feel modern and personable. Our company is known in the industry as the go-to experts in presentation design, so we wanted to maintain the credibility that is associated with our brand. Since Silver Fox has grown quite a bit over the past few years, our identity needed a revamp that showcased who we are and why we’re so great to work with.

We feel the new look does a great job of representing our company, but the process to get here was a balance of rewarding successes and challenging set-backs. Here are the five major things I learned in being part of our company’s brand refresh.

Do more than you’re asked.

We started with narrow parameters: redesign the business card using the same logo and typeface, but be creative with color and layout. After several unsuccessful attempts at making this work, we decided to bend the rules and use a typeface that one of our designers had built custom. This change of direction opened things up and brought some life into the Silver Fox brand. Our old typeface, Helvetica, was professional and clean, but didn’t have the friendly vibes we were going for. By choosing to go with a custom font, we knew our identity would be unique to our brand. The brand team was a bit nervous to pitch the updated logo to Ellen, but in the end it was obvious that taking the refresh one step further was the right call.

Listen to all of the voices.

The Silver Fox tagline is “Speak with Vision” and Ellen is always reminding us that everyone here has a voice. Our culture promotes the open sharing of ideas, input, and opinions, so we’re constantly engaging in conversations and having brainstorming sessions. When we’re deep in a client project we often turn to one or two coworkers to give feedback, but when it came to refreshing our company brand it became clear that all voices needed to be heard. It can be time consuming to have lots of opinions weighing in, and while we’re excellent when it comes to telling our clients’ stories well, we found it challenging to tell our own. The final outcome would never have been as impactful without the push and pull of everyone’s feedback throughout the process.

Dig into the details.

As designers, we’re obsessed with details. Since most of our days are spent shifting pixels around to ensure our designs are flawless, we knew we’d be super picky when it came to redefining the Silver Fox brand. Early on in the process, it became clear that the best color suited to our company’s personality would be a blue, but a shade that wasn’t too cold or garish. We settled on a cyan and selected a few cool gray colors with a hint of blue to complement the brand. Our work is mostly in the digital realm, so we came across another roadblock in printing the PMS version of our brand color. Multiple trips for print checks had us frustrated by how much less vibrant the cyan looked on paper as opposed to our monitors. We ended up choosing a fluorescent ink to make sure the colors would pop. It is one thing to settle on a specific detail, but our obsession with getting the nuance just right is what made this process a success.

Spend some time reflecting.

When the “ah-ha” moment finally came, all the pieces of the new identity began to fit together. We had the basic foundation down—the type, the color, and the proportions—but for the first few months everything we designed felt a little soulless. It was over time and with some careful refinement that we were able to bring in the level of sophistication that the Silver Fox brand called for. Incorporating photography and adjusting hierarchy in some of the layouts were big factors in getting the feeling just right. Without having the time to play around and let the brand evolve on its own, we never would have landed on the visual language that is the groundwork for the updated identity.

Know that there is always more.

What started as just a new business card design snowballed to every aspect of how we present our business. From thank you cards and branded USBs to signage, forms, templates, and social media, making sure our brand gets applied correctly across a variety of mediums and designers has been an unexpected challenge. In the beginning, we didn’t really grasp the full scope of a brand refresh, particularly since we’re a small company. At this point we’ve come to terms with the fact that this process will never have a finite ending, and we’ll continue tweaking and evolving our brand over the years as our Silver Fox continually evolves.