The Art of Growing Up: Evolving a Brand Identity
RUSH turned fifteen last year, a milestone to be proud of. The team has grown significantly since starting out in our founder’s garage, not only in headcount but also in diversity of service offerings and expertise.
Like any fifteen year old, we’ve gone through a period of fast growth and over the last couple of years, have matured the quality of our processes and our work.
We all love the RUSH name and what it stands for – but the broad brand identity was starting to feel like it no longer accurately represented who the team is now, or where we want to be in the future. With a new proposition and website project lined up, we had the perfect opportunity to take a fresh look at the brand.
In January we began a review of our visual personality, led by our internal design team. We took a look at where we thought we were, where we wanted to be, and ultimately arrived at a direction that would represent that vision.
Some of the key directions that came out were: gender-neutral, bright, contemporary and simple. Quite at odds with the heavy use of black, all-caps text and hand-scrawled marks we were used to.
We decided against a complete overhaul that would require changing our logo – the ‘stroke’ logo mark holds the emotion and promise of our brand. It’s enthusiastic and recogniseable and playful, originally created with brush and ink then re-constructed digitally. It’s also flexible as a mark, working well in different colourways and pairings.
So instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, we instead focused on elevating our brand, working with the successful elements and modernising those that were no longer serving us.
Among the most noticeable changes is the use of colour. We’ve maintained our core brand colours - an interpretation of RGB - but altered their usage in particular. Black used to be our dominant colour, with RUSH Prink (red-pink) as the supporting accent.
Now we use the colours equally, bringing a vibrancy to our branded material which has made a huge difference to how the attitude of the overall brand feels. It’s also a nod to the focus of equity, inclusion and accessibility that exists at RUSH.
Typography, a lifelong love of mine, was a significant focus for change. Practically, we needed a font that we could use everywhere with ease, not just on printed assets, so that our brand looked consistent in every channel. Working with widely accessible standard fonts reduces the need to include a ‘Google’ option, for example.
DM Sans was selected for our primary typeface. A geometric sans-serif typeface designed by Colophon Foundry, it was commissioned by Google Fonts and released in 2019. It’s simple and functional, with a few distinct letterforms and three weights which add hierarchy and emphasis.
Along with a new font, we shifted from ALL CAPS headers to using Sentence Case consistently. It’s friendly and approachable while staying professional - because that’s what we are.
Our new pairing font is Playfair Display Medium, a gorgeous condensed serif typeface with design contrast between thick and thin strokes. Inspired by broad nib quill strokes from the late 18th century, it adds style to our quotes and statements. It also has a lovely terminal reminiscent of a koru.
This replaced the use of hand-drawn statements and scribbled underlines to call out feature text. These old assets added a touch of humanity to balance out the ‘tech’ side of our brand years ago; our contemporary reality is that of a human-centred and cohesive approach to everything. We don’t need to delineate so strongly between ‘development’ and ‘design’.
By removing the drawn assets which were adding clutter, we’ve freed up space to experiment with typography and white space, leading us to the crisp and bold brand you see today.
Early on in this process we committed to being bold in our brand refresh. We also acknowledged that it might be divisive. Love it or hate it. Ultimately we didn’t want something safe. We wanted something bold and memorable, so we stayed the course and navigated any wobbles.
In the end, the parts that I love are those that have caused the most dramatic reactions from our target audience. The intentional typographic layouts, the bold use of colour, and the balance of clear space. These elements allow us to communicate our personality simply, which was the objective.
We made sure we followed our own RUSH design process to complete this brand review and design. That included taking key internal stakeholders on the journey as we would with clients, using the strength of our whole design team to create loads of conceptual ideas, and conducting user testing and feedback sessions with our actual clients for truly informed decision making.
We’ve put a huge emphasis on accessibility, ensuring that what we create can be used by anyone. This is an area we are incredibly passionate about at RUSH and it was a wonderful challenge to practise what we preach, designing something beautiful and a bit out of the ordinary whilst still being accessible.
RUSH is a brand that we still love and remain very proud of. We enjoyed seeing how the brand could evolve rather than change. To us, it feels as though we’ve grown up as a company, and now we have a visual identity that reflects that.