Design Club #3: The New Roo & Remote Work
Design Club’s latest bi-monthly networking / presentation night took place on September 15th where Deliveroo and Heroku took the stage. Talking about the challenges of redefining a large recognisable food delivery brand, and the experiences of working as a remote designer respectively. Both talks offered an interesting insight into the world of design in two very different areas and the challenges that comes with each of them.
Deliveroo — (re)Defining a brand
When Deliveroo published their new brand in September it, like in most cases, was met with mixed reception. Some liked the more vibrant colour scheme and minimalistic style while others were less than fond of the new and overly simplistic visual direction.
Courtney McNeil (Brand Design Lead) and Simon Rohrbach (Head of Design) talked Design Club through the delivery of the brand (pun not intended). Hearing the justifications and intentions behind the redesign made even the most sceptical more understanding.
Impressively, the rebrand was not limited to a new logo and a new colour scheme but also included everything from custom tailored delivery uniforms, optimised for the climate conditions of the countries they operate in, to broader marketing strategies. The intent was to make their branding recognisable and impactful internationally; from London to Tokyo to San Francisco.
Making the logo work from east to west
Perhaps the most significant element in their rebranding was their logo, which was previously a white naturalistic kangaroo. Although the initial logo, arguably, didn’t have any particular problems it did promote less than ideal cultural connotations in various countries. In some, a white kangaroo doesn’t make logical sense and in others kangaroos can be even negatively associated with rodents as something dirty and unpleasant. The new logo sought to step away from a literal translation of the kangaroo and evolve into a simpler, yet recognisable, version of its former self.
Some are still having trouble seeing a kangaroo in the new logo, but that is partially the point. It needs to be distant enough from its source material yet possible to interpretative as what it stands for. Whether people appreciate its new look or not is an entirely different discussion.
Bringing everything together
It was interesting to hear that the actual design of the new brand was the “easy” part. The true difficulty laid in pulling everything off and consistently applying the brand across an array of different products — within a fixed timeframe so that everything would be sorted and ready to launch all at once. The team found that when applying a rebrand across a wide spectrum of products, it quickly becomes difficult to avoid unfavourable brand inconsistencies.
Social feedback matters
In spite of this large undertaking Deliveroo managed to pull it off successfully for two reasons: people noticed it and they cared about the change. Be it positively or negatively, Deliveroo’s rebranding is relevant not solely because of who they are, a prosperous start-up food delivery service, but rather, as both Simon and Courtney pointed out, that others reacted to the change. If no one reacted to a major shift in a company’s visual direction the entire concept would, in a broad sense, have been a failure. Luckily, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Getting a brand to stick in people’s minds is often the main goal and the most difficult aspect to accomplish. A larger user response, even if mixed, is an indication that it likely has. Whether if it has the desired long-term effect, on the other hand, is a question only time will tell.
Heroku — The Art of Working Remotely
Next up was Heroku’s Al Monk (Senior Product Designer) sharing learnings from his experiences working remotely as part of a large international team.
Based in London, Al would have a significant daily commute; Heroku is based in San Francisco but also has employees on the East Coast. Which, of course, then presents the dilemma of how to effectively collaborate with others who live in vastly different time zones.
Keeping meetings short
Due to the limited hours where everyone was ‘in the office’, one of the key takeaways from his presentation was the practice of having chats rather than meetings. Meetings, he argued, required a lot of precious time whereas chats offered informal but more on to-the-point discussions that got a topic across a lot quicker. Much like comparing a tap on a shoulder in a traditional office setting with a scheduled meeting in a boardroom.
Patterns & Documentation
Not always being able to communicate directly, Al also points to the importance of having clear and logical style documentation that everyone has access to. Allows others to easily find and identity what they are looking for without the need to ping a colleague on the other side of the planet at 2:00am. Essentially, keeping simple discussions down to a minimum while maximising more important topics whenever colleagues are available.
Staying on track
Lastly, Al brought up the importance of having all employees understanding the goals, intentions, and obstacles they are facing. Members of the company annually meet in person for a week to reflect on these subjects where they then formulate a year-long plan. The purpose of this gives the company a sense of awareness about how workers are doing and how to best optimise future working schedules across every department, team, and product they have. This makes a lot of sense as 60% of the workforce are operating remotely and thus, much like Al, likely need to focus on the few and essential meetings they do have the time for.
Al’s presentation provided an intriguing insight into the world of working remotely and how he manages to work in a way many of us might consider difficult, or even impossible, on a large and long-term scale. But nonetheless presented as a concept that in practice bears much resembles to how a traditional office work — albeit with less face-to-face contact.
Having listened to the complexity behind rebranding a food delivery startup and the life of working remotely as part of an international organisation, I left with a better understanding of working in the creative industries.
What was possibly most characteristic about their talks was their general relevance. Presenting points that were not only easy to understand and follow but also covered wider ideas that could be applied to those not working in the design and technology sector.
If an opportunity arises I would be hard-pressed to not recommend anyone going to the ones in the future — tickets go quickly for a reason.
Event photos courtesy of Joe Watts (http://joewatts.co/)