A digital agency’s website is a lot more than their proof of existence. It’s their business card, their portfolio, their trophy case. It’s a window into what makes their heart beat and what drives them forward.
Osedea’s old website made us look… solid. It featured a long list of clients and some nice employee perks that are typical to the tech industry.
But visitors to our website couldn’t see what was actually hiding behind those virtual curtains. In reality, Osedea was so much more than Friday beers and granola bars.
Working at Osedea is stimulating and challenging. Our projects span across the most diverse industries (education, aerospace and copper mining, to name a few) and present endless opportunities to expand our knowledge and flex our design and development muscles.
It’s not just our projects that keep us fired up. All Osedea employees act as mentors and mentees to one another, breaking down the concept of workplace hierarchies. Personal achievements are celebrated as shared victories and praise are tossed back and forth comfortably between team members. Mental health is openly discussed and diversity and inclusivity actively promoted. What’s more, we take fun very seriously with lunchtime workout classes, escape rooms, soccer tournaments, mixology courses, outdoor potlucks, origami sessions, community volunteering, coding competitions and even team-bonding trips to destinations like Portugal and Jamaica.
Osedea had hidden depths
While this would be a positive realization for any client who hired us or new employee who joined the team, it had not-so-great implications for Osedea as a business. The last thing an agency wants to hear is that it is more impressive once you get to know it. It’s how a supermodel might feel hearing she looks better in person than in her photographs.
Designing your own brand from the comfort of your bubble can be tempting, but it’s often wiser to recruit an external party to get involved. You can’t get an accurate image of who you are when you’ve been staring at yourself in the mirror your whole life. We knew we needed fresh eyes.
We kicked off our search with nearby agencies in our hometown of Montreal. To our dismay, door after door was shut in our faces. This reaction was reasonable, we realized. We were an agency that offered design services, just like them. They weren’t too eager to give one of their competitors a custom makeover. Fair.
Go big, or go home.
After a couple of weeks scratching our heads and feeling hopeless, we decided to let one of our 5 culture values guide the way: “Go Big or Go Home”. If the fish in our pond didn’t want to work on our project, we would venture out into a bigger pond. Or across the pond, rather. We ended up choosing to partner with Makerstreet Design, a multidisciplinary design agency in Amsterdam.
We had high expectations. Sure, we wanted a sexy new website. Who doesn’t? But that wasn’t all we were hoping to get out of this branding project.
The Amsterdam design team started by asking us what Osedea does. That was easy: we design and develop custom digital solutions. But when asked why we do what we do… We didn’t have a unified answer. Our feelings overlapped in many ways, but we needed one sole mission statement to serve as a sturdy backbone for the company. A shared vision we could all get behind.
After workshopping with the Amsterdam design team and contemplating our very existence, we were relieved to finally be able to pin down our why. We design and develop custom solutions to make the world more efficient and enjoyable.
We stressed efficiency because many of our projects are aimed at making clients’ internal processes run more smoothly whilst saving time, money and energy. We also constantly assess our own processes to make sure we’re working in the smartest way possible.
But efficiency wasn’t all that mattered to us. We also design and build products that make everyday experiences more enjoyable, like the mobile application and system of beacons we created for the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts that allows museum goers to interact with whatever work of art they were standing in front of. Internally too, as mentioned above, weaving enjoyment into life at the office is one of our strong suits.
Our new mission statement took our motivation in all aspects of our business and wrapped it up in a neat little package. The next time someone asked us why we do what we do, we’d be armed with an iron-clad response.
As any novelist knows, the key to a successful piece of writing is an unfaltering tone of voice. We weren’t too proud to admit it: between our blog articles, social media posts and website, we sounded like we were in the midst of an identity crisis. Luckily, the agency we partnered with had a team of trusty UX copywriters on hand. They helped us create a set of brand voice guidelines that could act as a reference whenever any team member needed to write a piece of text.
Every time our design team created a marketing material — a slide presentation, a proposal document, a social media banner — we would turn to our fellow coworkers for validation. But because we didn’t have a defined brand identity, they weren’t able to pinpoint exactly why a design felt unrepresentative of who we really were. We needed something to help us evaluate our marketing materials along the same lines.
Together we came up with a set of 5 brand values that would guide the design of our website as well as all future marketing materials we created. Now our colleagues could look at our work and decide how well it suited each of our brand words. We’d finally be speaking the same language.
Once it came time to redesign our website, we felt more than prepared. With a new set of brand guidelines in hand, we set to work wire framing and prototyping.
We made sure to address each of our brand values in the design.
We used sand-coloured backgrounds and the signature Osedea orange from our logo to bring warmth into each page. We also included lots of photos of our teammates to emphasize that we are people-people who care about each other, our clients and our community.
We made sure that navigation and button text was extremely straightforward so that the user experience on the website would be intuitive and familiar. This would show visitors that with us, what you see is what you get.
To channel our geeky side, we included playful details in the website like half-pixelated iconography, witty copywriting and typography with a bit of a digital edge. We even created a secret game on our 404 page (though we hope you don’t find it).
Our design team threw down the gauntlet to our developers, daring them to build a grid on the homepage that would leave a glittering trail of pixels behind the cursor and make our Osedea slash explode and reassemble when users moused over it. Of course, the development team was more than game to rise to the challenge and show off their ability to push technical boundaries.
Visit our Website, to take a look at our fresh new face.
Although we were feeling confident about the work we had done in Amsterdam, we were still nervous to present the brand and new website design to the team when we got home. Would they feel accurately represented? Or would the presentation only spark skepticism and heated debate? We knew our team, and we knew how strongly they felt about Osedea. They wouldn’t be too happy if they felt the company was being misrepresented.
To our relief, the work was met with overwhelming enthusiasm. Whatever small pieces of feedback we received were integrated back into the designs, but overall, the care we had put into observing Osedea from all angles and using our insights to build a comprehensive set of brand guidelines before redesigning the website had paid off in a big way. Our team felt deeply understood and confident that the next time someone strolled into our office after visiting our website, they would know exactly who we were and what they could expect from us.