I’m a branding enthusiast who’s transitioned into being a Product Manager. I was lucky enough to start my career in advertising as a brand associate at Leo Burnett, then I worked at other top ad-agencies. I even had a stint as a brand manager at an ed-tech startup.
Now, I’m a product manager at an Insuretech startup. Even though my professional role has shifted, my passion for branding remains. I still read a ton of branding books and tune into brand strategy podcasts (a big shout out to Terry O’Reily) whenever I can.
Before my current role as a Product Manager, I had the opportunity to work as a product strategist at a top UX design firm in LA. In addition to that, I’ve worked with numerous UX designers on various freelance projects over the years.
Having navigated through these experiences, it’s safe to say that I’ve been in the trenches with both brand designers and UX-UI/Product designers. For many founders/business owners a designer is a designer but that can’t be farther from the truth. Based on my experience let’s see what makes them so different?
“An ad agency is one of the few remaining safe spaces for weird or eccentric people in the worlds of business and government.”— Rory Sutherland
Now that we’ve established the differences, you might be wondering how they manifest in the work produced by these agencies, right?
Let’s explore this through a case study. For this exercise, we will focus solely on logo redesign, not the entire branding effort, and observe how the two agencies respond to the same creative brief.
The Brand: Prefinery is a no-code SaaS tool that enables marketing teams and founders to build pre-launch waiting lists. One of the pioneers in the pre-launch waiting lists business, their product has been used by both startups and enterprises like Microsoft, Atlassian and WealthSimple.
Among startups, Prefinery is considered an essential, no-code marketing tool, since refer-a-friend and pre-launch waiting list campaigns are an integral part of a product’s early adoption toolkit.
The Challenge: Prefinery’s previous logo (and overall branding) failed to resonate with its target audience — startup founders. Our research revealed that many people mistook Prefinery for an energy business, due in part to the graphic of the ‘P’ in their logo resembling a drop of oil. Pair that with ‘refinery’ in the name, and the confusion is understandable. However, this perception was far from reality.
Moreover, due to its poor branding and marketing, Prefinery, which was once a pioneer and market leader, began to lose its competitive edge. New entrants with similar products but better marketing and user experience seized the opportunity, causing Prefinery to fall from its leader rank to that of a follower. The challenge was clear: Prefinery needed to revamp its branding to better reflect its true identity and regain its position in the market.
To Summarize: Prefinery’s logo felt antiquated and void of significance. What was needed was a logo that mirrored the contemporary, dynamic, and tech-savvy nature of the company — something that echoed ‘no-code’, ‘SaaS’, and ‘startups’.
I took the lead on this rebrand in late 2021, and for the project, I teamed up with a seasoned art director I’ve known for a while. He’s a pro in brand identity design and has spent his career at some of the big-name ad agencies. We have a history of working together. He’s my first call for any brand design work.
I won’t go through the entire logo-design process here. To keep things short, let’s dive straight into what we created for Prefinery.
What we accomplished:
Post logo redesign, we delved into rebranding, but things didn’t progress to launch. I keep tabs on Prefinery via social media and recently spotted this post on Prefinery’s LinkedIn:
I was thrilled to see the brand finally got the makeover it deserved — executed by a UX/UI agency. I assume they received the same brief. Let’s take a closer look at their logo redesign:
More about the logo, from Linkedin:
The new logo features the magenta-colored circles that signify points on a graph, embodying our commitment to growth and continuous improvement.
We’ve also updated our signature orange color with a captivating gradient of magenta to a new tone of orange, which is like the warmth and energy of a sunrise in a way. This symbolizes the jump-start of your product, celebrating the new era that begins as you launch your product with our flagship feature: the pre-launch waiting list. Most importantly, this is YOUR own journey of success and we want to incorporate that into our logo.
Before drawing any conclusions, let’s make a side-by-side comparison of the logos along with the brand tagline:
Having seen them side by side, it becomes apparent that UI/UX and branding agencies have distinct areas of expertise and approaches to design.
If you’re looking to create a brand that strikes a chord with your audience, branding agencies are the way to go. If it’s about crafting an intuitive user experience for a digital product, then UI/UX agencies should be your choice. It’s essential to know what you need for your project and make an informed decision.
By the way, which logo did you like better? Just curious — no hard feelings either way! Drop a line in the comments.
Tips from a former adman for UX Designers This post is inspired by a true story. A UX designer friend of mine, let’s call him Alex, found himself jobless this month and reached out to me for help. I immediately got on a call with him, suggested he send me his resume and portfolio, and […]
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