Lock down. Smarten up.by Grace Kneafsey
According to Ofcom’s Online Nation report, published in June, UK internet users have been spending a record amount of time online during lockdown with the biggest increase seen in over 54s (up 24%).
Interactions not just with people, but with brands, information, data, reputations all went digital,encouraging many of us to take a step back and consider our own online presence.
Our original branding below, was released in 2018 when we started developing the technology that underpins our asset finance marketplace. Back then, we wanted our brand to represent solidity, robustness and appeal to a largely traditional, distrustful audience who wanted a service 'that simply does what it says on the tin'. Dark green and black were chosen as colours to create a strong feeling, organic but industrial. The blocks pointed to our heritage working with Innovate UK and King's College London academics to explore blockchain feasibility in asset finance.
The intention was never to charm or for that matter, strike any note of sophistication. We were simply communicating clarity.
Fast forward two years, and we are now a few months post launch generating revenue. We are supporting a much broader equipment mix and demographic than previously envisaged so we've worked on updating our brand.
And today we release our new branding, a product of our own reflection and the feedback from clients, techstars and partners.
For the benefit of other startups in our community who may also have small budgets, we run over our approach below.
Stage 1: We focused on our values.
When we started developing Equipment Connect back in 2017/2018 we were exclusively focused on driving speed and affordability and consequently we defined ourselves in a very narrow sense. As we've grown deeper into our markets we have refocused, thinking carefully about where our technology aligns with our culture. We've concluded that as a modern tech marketplace are key values are: Clarity, Convenience and Flexibility.
- Clarity because we believe the asset finance industry is too opaque. Hard working businesses in the real economy too often line the pockets of the financial services industry because with the smoke, hooks and catches at play. Our marketplace provides clear, simple pricing with multiple offers from funders so businesses know exactly where they stand.
- Convenience because our proprietary tech delivers 100% paperless asset finance. Everything is managed on one platform and regardless of which funder finances the equipment, the process is always the same logical flow. Fully digital from first contact to final contract.
- Flexibility because our marketplace doesn't cherry pick but caters to the full spectrum of SMEs in the UK across all manner of equipment. Customers can lease to buy (HP) or just lease to return (Finance Lease), rent or arrange for purchase directly.
Stage 2: Exploring names:
The second stage of our branding exercise was exploring new names. Several short, spicy names quickly faced the guillotine: Equify, KitCore and Mandala.
AssetHub and Flywheel were two names we liked so we checked the temperature of our customer base. AssetHub was preferred but there was strong IP risk because of a similar registered mark in the US. 'Flywheel' on the other hand died quickly. While the link to rotational energy was great, it unfortunately reminded our customers too much of fair wheels and sounded "too flimsy for a christmas cracker toy"
So hours of brainstorming finished, we decided to stick with Equipment Connect the unsexy but always reliable name that supports customers with a utility they need.
Stage 3: Fleshing out the concept
The third stage was experimenting with new concepts. We looked at mechanical cogs, revolving waves and engine pistons before exploring symbols from these islands.
After some time we discovered the triskelion motif as is show below at Newgrange near Dublin.
Without fear of an IP law suit from our neolithic ancestors we pushed on ahead!
The three sides of the triskelion represent the three sides of our marketplace (funder, vendor and equipment user) and grace the seamless, digital interaction it provides between equipment funders, vendors and users.
The number three is common throughout our new branding, not only relevant to the three sides of the marketplace but to the three key uses of the platform: 1. to source, 2. to finance and .3 to manage equipment.
The beginning of our new brand started to take shape..
Final stage: Colours and font
Blue is the traditional colour of trust (cue to Britain's strongest bank, Barclays). We wanted a deviation of blue that represented on one hand the vibrancy and innovation we were introducing to asset finance but on the other hand, offered clear definition. As a result we went for two shades of aqua marine and a darker navy blue.
The shades of blue and clean font that make up our new branding immediately let our audience know we are a modern, fintech company bringing innovation to our users. We have used a modern, curvy but clear font in Quicksands to best reflect the feeling of ease and clarity that flows from our brand values. And that was it, completed on a limited budget and all now ready to be our face in the world. Result below! Trademark pending :-)
🥁 ...... Our new branding! ..
As we prepare to roll out of beta mode into full launch with an evolved business model, the new brand reflects our renewed energy. We look forward to working with all of you in the months and years ahead.
Look out for our new branding across all social media platforms and the upcoming launch of our updated digital platform