Digital Strategy

A Closer Look at the Rebrand of Arrow - Part 2

— How we implemented IA and Visual Design to Arrow's rebranding project.

Posted: January 07, 2013

In the previous post, we discussed how we used our creative process to rebrand Arrow. We will continue that discussion here with our approach to the remaining two key areas of Information Architecture and Visual Design.

Information Architecture

With the discovery and usability analysis behind us, we finally have enough information to start the information architecture portion of the project. Typically, this includes a content and feature inventory of the current systems, creation of new sitemaps and wireframes. We kick off this phase by having design sessions both internally, and externally with the client. Obviously, we were our own client, so internal sessions were all we needed.

Since we were creating both a new brand, and a new site to go along with it, our design sessions consisted of a lot of sketching, both on whiteboard and paper. Our designers not only had to conceptualize a new logo, they also had to conceive how that brand would be represented on a new site, as well as how that new site would communicate our message. If you ask anyone on my team, I love whiteboards so this is always my favorite part of the process.

Once we hash out all our ideas, getting these thoughts into wireframes help us validate these ideas with stakeholders and users. We can use the wireframes to walk through a process and structure with a client, without distractions like “What color should that button be?” or “What font should we use for subtitles?”. For that we have a whole other process that lets us focus on the form versus the function.

Visual Design

All of our work done throughout discovery, user experience analysis and information architecture leads us to here: Visual design. During this phase of the process, our designers use all the knowledge that led up to this point to deliver stunning visual concepts. The discovery helped them understand the client’s needs better and formed a basis for the design by providing branding guidelines and demographic. The user experience analysis brought the demographic to life by creating personas that the designers could tap into as they draft a design those users would gravitate towards. The information architecture served as a blueprint for the layout and interactivity.

The one thing that is missing is collaboration with the client on a final style or “mood” for the design. That’s where our mood boards come in. Mood boards help the designer collaborate with the client on the direction of colors, typography and styles. They help give a clear vision of the design direction without getting bogged down with details of content and functionality. As we were also creating a new brand, this was even more important for us, as these styles would serve as the basis for not only the redesign of the site, but also set the standard for all of our branding going forward. Everything you see on this site, started out as a design pattern in our style guide. And that style guide wouldn’t have been possible without these mood boards.

The Final Design

You’ve already seen it because you’re on the site. But what you see wasn’t the first concept. Our designers generated quite a few different concepts before we arrived here. Our managing partners served as great clients. They both have different outlooks on design, however since our process is so detailed, it actually worked out better that they had different visions. By doing our due diligence up front, we were able to create a brand that incorporated feedback from both of them and actually made the design stronger in the end. Small details like rounded corners on the arrow, to large details like larger emphasis on team members, came from their input.

We’re extremely happy with how our new brand and site redesign turned out. We put a lot of effort into it over the summer, and it shows in the final output. Since we debuted the brand right before DNN World 2012, we were able to see the impact it had at the conference, especially when compared to other brands. The feedback we’ve received from customers and peers has been very positive, and we’re looking forward to expanding on our brand in the coming year.