The past few months have been reeeally busy, but fascinating too. Not only has development on our core product been pushing forwards at a rate of knots and our direct work with schools continuing at a pace, we've also been taking time to work on our core brand.
In order to flourish and fulfil our potential we recognise that having a great product just isn’t enough. We need a way to raise our heads above the crowd, communicate what we actually do in straight-talk, and demonstrate the benefits we bring to actual people in their day to day lives. The best way we can communicate what we do is by being secure in our identity and making our voices crystal clear. We’ve taken a long, hard look at ourselves as a company, critiquing and questioning what makes us unique and special and distilling our very souls into something — the beginnings of a brand — we’re really proud of.
One of the most useful exercises we’ve undertaken has been to identify our ‘brand persona’. Put simply, a brand persona is the manifestation of a business as a person or character, with personality traits, attitudes and values. People connect with people, so by personifying a business (not literally, but in communication and presentation) it’s possible to make connections more quickly and strongly. Our values are that we're technical, organised, modern and innovative, but also friendly, good-natured and human!
Personification is also useful when looking outwards as a business in identifying customers. Who are we aiming to help? What do they do? Sometimes a business might have a very clear and narrow customer-base and so a customer persona may be obvious. In the case of Setsquare, we build websites for schools but our ‘customer base’ is actually quite diverse — we’re helping a range of different people solve a range of different problems. We boiled this down to the following 5 main cases:
- We want to help parents and carers by making it simple for them to find information about their child’s school
- We want to streamline the management of websites by school IT departments so they spend less time, effort and money managing website infrastructure
- We want pupils to engage with their own school websites, giving them something modern and stylish to be proud of
- We want to reduce the burden of managing website content for teachers who, frankly, usually have better things to do
- We want to facilitate fluid communications between the school office and the outside world, reducing friction
Following on from identifying our main customer personas we decided to actually embody them in illustrated form, hence our cheery set of characters were born!
Interestingly (particularly for those of a nerdy persuasion!) our characters were actually created using a grid system and transformed into code, so even their beaming, colourful personalities are built on a sound technical basis — bang on brand, huh?!
Our logo was derived from a few of the key concepts of the Setsquare platform and indeed from the name Setsquare itself. We wanted to incorporate the idea that the logo could actually have been drawn using straight lines with a setsquare, so we chose to build the key shapes of the design using an isometric (/triangular) grid. One of the key elements of the Setsquare platform is the concept of stacking together small modules of functionality to form whole web pages, so that is what is represented by the layers, which stack together to form the whole shape itself. Rather satisfyingly, each layer, were it not set on an isometric grid, would actually be a square too, forming part of the word Setsquare. Tied together with a couple of small triangles the logo forms a letter ‘S’.
Our type is set entirely in Gotham (standard, narrow and rounded variants). We’re massive fans of the Hoefler & Co. type foundry and the fonts we've used have been individually optimised for screens, meaning that our text is always clean, crisp and legible no matter what size or device it’s being read from. Gotham is modern and technical but also friendly, so it fits us like a glove :)
Our colour palette is purposefully broad. Our base colour is rich, navy blue/purple, evoking security and trust, whilst our highlight colours are rich yellow, teal and ‘amaranth’ red, representing our friendly, playful side. A hint of cool grey lends a modern touch.
Overall our banding process has been a fantastic experience of discovery. It’s never easy to put yourself as a business so firmly under the microscope, but we’re delighted with how things turned out and we feel we have a very solid base from which to grow.