Post
Marshall DarrNov 9, 20185 min read

How our startup found its brand

Updated: Jun 25

Decent’s a new team, and like most new teams, our first website was pretty much an out-of-the-box default.

Which could really be most generously described as “functional.” The design wasn’t horrible, but for a team with ambitions to shake up the health insurance industry, it probably wasn’t going to get the job done. Here’s how we found our groove.

Step 1: The team

We seriously don’t deserve this man — keep reading, you’ll agree. As with most design projects worthy of a blog post, it all started with a designer. We had just hired our first one.

Derric Wise, our new Design Lead, joined our team from Funko where he worked as the company’s UX Lead. Before that Derric had a long history of design success with recognizable companies like Microsoft and Moz.

Derric’s a pro, but building a brand from scratch is a tough task for anyone. Good thing he had some backup.

If you’re launching a company — you need a Suzanne. One of Decent’s first employees, Suzanne Scharlock, our Product Manager, was there to help us take this from beautiful concept to a user tested reality.

Suzanne is a user testing guru. Her work with our target demographic has informed every part of Decent’s development, and we used the full extent of her superpower on this project.

Suzanne worked with over 150 freelancers over the period of two weeks to gather the actionable feedback we needed to fine-tune Derric’s work.

Step 2: What is Decent?

To understand our brand you’ll have to understand our story a bit.

Everyone knows the ballooning cost of medical insurance is a problem, but perhaps no one is more aware of it than freelancers who purchase their own insurance.

In a world where insurance premiums have been rising over15% every year, the only viable way for a lot of people to get access to the insurance they need is through traditional employment.

Decent is working on another way.

Through the use of some groundbreaking technologies (yes, including blockchain) we’re creating a new paradigm in insurance. Our transparent and fair system is looking to give freelancers the most affordable comprehensive health insurance coverage in the market.

At Decent, we believe in the spirit of exploration. Access to health insurance shouldn’t hold anyone back from setting out on their own and pursuing their passions.

Freedom through access to affordable health insurance. That’s Decent.

Now we just have to figure out how to give a website that vibe…

Step 3: Color Palette

First off, we needed to settle on a color palette that embodied the feelings we were looking to instill in our customers.

We wanted something bright, hopeful, and simple. We wanted people who saw our colors to feel our brand’s voice and tone immediately, without any other guidance from us. So we came up with six combinations we thought could do that and Suzanne took them to the people we’re looking to serve.

One of the nice things about going to market with a service aimed at freelancers is that they’re always pretty easy to track down. We got in contact with 150 freelancers and showed them these options. We also took a survey of our team to get their sentiments as well.

Our results came in with some very direct feedback:

People hated this version (myself included - sorry Derric).

And loved this one (myself also included - yay Derric!)

Step 4: Illustrative Style

Next up we looked to dive a little deeper into the preferred illustrative style. To do that, we floated these four options to internal and external freelancers in our target market again.

The results we found were a little less definitive — internally we loved the top right version but the bottom right tested much stronger with freelancers.

Alternatively, when it came to the versions we enjoyed least, potential customers we surveyed tested very strongly against the bottom left while internally we were a united front against the bottom left version.

Based on all this feedback, we decided to compromise between the heavier illustrative style in the bottom right and the airy application of colors in the top right — which had fewer but more vocal supporters.

Step 5: Logo

Next up it was time to wrap up our story and style into an iconic logo.

We wanted something we could splash everywhere.

Something recognizable.

Something trustworthy that didn’t scream “traditional health insurance company.”

Derric came up with four options, and we took them to the people (well, the people who freelance).

We were proud of all of these, but none of them seemed to really capture the attention of our potential customers like we expected.

The one that tested best (the bottom right) felt inauthentic to what we were trying to build, but there were elements in the feedback we received that seemed to indicate we had struck on something.

People loved the heart. They felt like it humanized the brand in an industry that hadn’t been human for a long time.

Armed with that finding, Derric hopped back to the (very large) drawing board to iterate in search of a logo that felt as good to our customers as it did internally.

Here’s that process:

After what felt like countless iterations, Derric stumbled upon the following logo that felt like it embodied everything we were looking for:

Step 6: Bringing it all together

And now we put it all together — our logo:

With our illustrative style and colors:

To make something all our own. Something new to health insurance. Something Decent.