Beyond the Brief: An Outstanding Rebranding Project

Published Jan 25
Michelle Mire
Michelle MireSenior Content Marketing Specialist

Considering a rebrand? Peek behind the curtain of Riipen’s fruitful collaboration with Superside and how a laser focus on strategy became the golden thread that tied everything together. Learn how to implement an immersive discovery process and inform the creation of a dynamic, scalable brand.

Your brand evolves as you build your business. However, instinct and improvisation only take you so far.

Riipen had reached that breaking point.

Their mission as an edtech platform connecting educators and employers to help end underemployment for college and university students was clear. But they didn't have the basic foundations and design systems to capture the essence of their brand, ensure consistency, streamline production and, most of all, engage audiences.

Sound familiar? Creative Account Lead Carolina Peixoto and Associate Creative Director Stephanie Hunter were no strangers to these types of brand challenges either. Their solution started with building a strong strategic base.

Find out how they approached Riipen's rebrand and created an outstandingly distinct, modern and extendable identity—and tackle your next rebranding project with the strategic insights you need to succeed, too.

The Brief: Modernizing a Brand

We always 100% recommend starting with a good strategic base. Having a really solid strategy as well as a golden thread idea is what informs every decision you make.

Stephanie Hunter
Stephanie HunterAssociate Creative Director, Concept, Copy, Art Direction, Superside

Riipen wanted to refresh its brand—making it more human, aspirational and modern.

As an edtech leader, Riipen had a solid sense of its core values. Where they needed the most help was capturing this knowledge and translating it into an easily communicated, standout brand.

The most crucial aspect of delivering on this rebranding project—a strong focus on strategy.

How does strategy, which sounds about as exciting as a science test, help make a brand more modern and human? You're about to find out and become a strategy superfan.

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Beyond the Brief: A Lesson in Rebranding Strategy

People don’t sign up to Riipen as a platform, they sign up for the purpose.

Stephanie Hunter
Stephanie HunterAssociate Creative Director, Concept, Copy, Art Direction, Superside

More than a logo or signature colors, resonant brands evoke strong emotional responses. Identifying elements that spark interest takes a lot of strategic groundwork.

Why wouldn’t you immediately jump to creating mood boards, illustrating icons and building templates? Because, if you haven’t done your homework, you’re actually creating more work when you haven’t found out:

  • What’s working.
  • What isn’t.
  • What’s missing.

In essence, leaving this stage out of your rebranding project plan is one of those “fail to plan, plan to fail” kind of things.

How do you go all in with uncovering strategic insights?

The workshop process works really well for the strategic components of a rebrand. At the end of the day, no one knows their brand better than the business and its stakeholders.

Stephanie Hunter
Stephanie HunterAssociate Creative Director, Concept, Copy, Art Direction, Superside

Peixoto and Hunter held a series of in-depth workshops with Riipen to get to the heart of the innovative tech brand’s positioning—the golden threads that tie the entire brand strategy together.

No one knows their brand better than the people who built it. The best way to learn more about how the primary stakeholders think and feel is to get them to talk about it. Ask plenty of questions and, most importantly, listen to what they say.

Immersing ourselves and doing a super-thorough deep dive is where we mine the gold that becomes our strategic thread. It’s a two-way partnership and it was invaluable to have Riipen involved every step of the way.

Carolina Peixoto
Carolina PeixotoCreative Account Lead, Design, Brand Identity, Superside

The slide above shows how the workshops helped drill down to the essence of where Riipen wanted its brand to evolve and the emotion it had to capture.

Capturing “Ah ha!” moments

In the workshop process, we’re always listening and jotting down ideas. For instance, Riipen used words like purpose and equitable quite often. And, if they’re saying it a lot, it means a lot.

Carolina Peixoto
Carolina PeixotoCreative Account Lead, Design, Brand Identity, Superside

During one of the workshops, Peixoto and Hunter used Carl Jung’s brand archetypes framework to help guide conversations and identify the core components of Riipen’s brand personality that stood out above everything else.

As an edtech brand, Riipen traditionally leaned heavily into credibility. However, the archetyping exercise revealed that Riipen wanted to be more—aspiring to be recognized as innovative and purposeful.

The two brand personas that rose to the top:

  • 65% Sage—pursuing knowledge.
  • 35% Magician—believing anything can happen.

Moving from workshops to concept development

The interplay between the two personas, the Sage and the Magician, inspired both the design thinking and the messaging.

Developing voice and tone guidelines (pinpointing the purpose, mission and vision) alongside the visual components provided a further strategic lens for solidifying and operationalizing the brand.

Peixoto, Hunter and their teams presented two concepts titled “Riipen means work-ready" and "It starts with an i."

The winner...

Representing the interaction between humans involved in the experiential learning process, the two i's in the Riipen logo were a concept waiting to happen.

The strategic foundation we laid revealed that Riipen is more than a platform—it's a call to arms for all involved to help shape the future of work.

Stephanie Hunter
Stephanie HunterAssociate Creative Director, Concept, Copy, Art Direction, Superside

It encapsulated what the Riipen stands for and hopes to inspire in others. Visually, the i's also became a flexible building block for the design system, allowing consistency and enough room to experiment and keep things fresh.

Putting all the pieces together

We see a lot more going back to the drawing board or a lot of feedback when we miss that super vital step of setting the strategic foundation.

Stephanie Hunter
Stephanie HunterAssociate Creative Director, Concept, Copy, Art Direction, Superside

Imagine trying to check your spelling without a dictionary or producing layouts without specifications like height, width or even which mediums the assets are for.

A functional, scalable brand needs clear, effective guidelines. Sales, marketing, creative, product teams, agencies and other vendors—anyone communicating either internally or externally—if they’re talking about the brand, they need to be consistent. But, they can only do this when they’re given the right tools.

And when you quit reinventing the wheel, you’re even more efficient at priming the engines.

Superside developed detailed brand guidelines for Riipen, giving them the tools to move forward into the innovative yet consistent new era they envisioned.

5 Rebranding Project Takeaways

Reflecting on this rebranding project and their collective experience with branding, Peixoto and Hunter advise their fellow creative leaders to keep these lessons in mind:

  • Start with a good strategic base. An investment with exponential returns, taking the time to hold workshops, ask questions and mine for key insights lets you get to functional, scalable solutions faster.
  • Find your big ideas. Magician, sage, starting with an i... these are the golden threads you'll use to weave logic and emotion.
  • Have all relevant stakeholders involved from the beginning. Ensuring that all relevant stakeholders participated in the kickoff and workshops helped everyone become 100% aligned and minimized the rounds of feedback for the rebranding project itself.
  • Create design and copy guardrails. These guidelines should be clear enough to allow for consistency and flexible enough to let you push creative boundaries when needed.
  • Don’t work in a silo. Branding, rebranding or anything brand is hard work. But, it’s also meaningful and powerful work. Partnering with experts, like Superside, not only helps you get these projects done, it also unlocks new perspectives that further engagement and growth.

When you cover these basics, brands work better. Just look at how Riipen's new brand is propelling its mission forward.

Want to put strategy at the heart of your rebranding project? Book a call to collaborate with thoughtful creative experts, like Peixoto and Hunter.

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Michelle Mire
Michelle MireSenior Content Marketing Specialist

Michelle enjoys learning from and empowering ambitious marketers and creatives focused on scaling design and fueling growth.🚀 With more than two decades of experience, she’s worked at both agencies and in-house teams at companies of all sizes in the United States and Canada. She began her career as an advertising copywriter, remastering these skills as a content marketer and becoming a subject matter expert on everything from frozen pies and financial statements to SaaS and now CaaS. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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