Behind-the-Brand | CFS Rebrand
Updated: Sep 24, 2020
One of the things we love most about designing a new or rebranded identity is the power it has to help our clients reach their full potential. Branding is transformative and empowering when built on strategy.
Introducing Constellation Financial Software formally Constellation Financing Systems (CFS). We teamed up with this group last year to build a new brand identity for their new amalgamated software solution, INFINITY. Impressed by our work, they reached out again to reimagine the branding of their master brand, CFS.
We thrive on collaboration, so it helps when we work with inspiring people who are passionate about what they do, just like us!
We were delighted with the results of Constellation Financial Software’s identity. To give you the full story, here’s a behind-the-brand look at the complete process of how the identity was developed.
ONE (1) | DISCOVERY
Since clients know their business best, they have a valuable role to play in the design process. The initial step includes the completion of a discovery consultation questionnaire, so we can get to know the business inside and out, before beginning the strategy and design development.
Constellation Financial Software reached out to us, recognizing the need to rebrand their tired, out of date and cliché space-themed vibe. They were looking for a modern and professional look that could carry them into the future.
TWO (2) | STRATEGY
Our branding approach is built by combining strategy + creativity. We listen first and then learn what makes our clients idiomatic, diving deeply into their industry, studying the challenges and nuances of how companies in their sector grow. We learn about their competition, research what makes them ambitious and how we can build a strategy that stands out. In the end, we use all this information to curate and carefully blend together our client's strengths and what makes their business unique.
Next, we create a written brand strategy to define how we communicate the proposed vision. This forms the creative brief and guidelines to refer to when the concept design begins.
Within the discovery questionnaire, we asked for a selection of adjectives that they felt best described the brand/product. They answered with the following:
Together with our industry and competition research, these words informed the brand strategy for the rebranded CFS identity.
Next, the mood board and colour palette (shown below) was curated to visually convey the feeling described in the brand strategy. The mood board sets the tone of the proposed brand identity and very importantly, ensures our thoughts run parallel with our client. We must be in agreement on visual direction before proceeding to the concept stage.
The Constellation Financial Software (CFS) rebrand strategy builds upon the established identities of the parent company, Constellation Software Inc. and its operating entity, Perseus Group. We looked at capitalizing on the existing market authority with an identity that depicts smart and streamlined software solutions. CFS offers a simplified process, seamless execution and is backed by superior support. The approachable and friendly quality empowers business operations as a highly flexible financial leasing solution for the entire asset lifecycle.
The strategy took cues from the parent company’ brand colours in conjunction with proven shape theory and distinct refinements to typography to present a modern, tech-driven, yet friendly mandate for the Constellation Financial Software brand.
The overall style direction paralleled the traditions of corporate design that emphasizes cool tones and clean lines to convey a strong and bold aesthetic. The proposed branding focused on the attribute of flexibility and a thoughtful reduction of elements to reach simplicity, applying the theory of minimalism.
Colour is a powerful branding tool that is used to transform identities into a subconscious emotional experience by instantly stimulating aspirations, often instilling trust and connecting the brand’s mission with its market purpose.
The combination of blues with yellow remained steadfast while we added light and dark greys to the palette to evoke a refined and sleek vibe.
Midnight (Dark Blue) projects dependability and stability with links to formality, conveying confidence, power and authority. Blue is determined, self-sufficient, loyal, goal-oriented and intelligent. It works well in the financial industry as it is defined by credibility, trustworthiness and reliability.
Similarly, Cobalt (Bright Blue) inspires integrity with the feeling of trust and the state of responsibility. The mixing in of this brighter hue levels out the dominance of the darker shade, aiding in decision-making and clear thinking.
Goldenrod (Yellow) is characteristically the colour of innovation and intellect. Designed to inject a pop of bright, yellow is the accent colour. It produces a warming effect, conveying super-charged energy. The colour of sunshine -- is optimistic, friendly and illuminating. Yellow grabs attention and stimulates the mind, demonstrating the CFS brand as a bold, successful and confident financial software company.
Rounding out the colour story, is the addition of the greys, Silver and Cloud, denoting knowledge and wisdom. Silver is perceived as long-lasting, high-tech, sleek and refined. It is dignified, conservative and carries immense authority, making it an ideal fit for the financial and software industries alike. Grey overall, acts as neutral hue, that is timeless with an air of sophistication, pairing well and complimenting more bold colours by balancing the palette.
Shapes (both geometric and abstract) played an important role in the development of this identity. It's often the most innovative approaches that happen in the background that gives a brand a layered and deeper meaning.
Squares and rectangles are synonymous with logic, certain, trustworthiness and order. Since agility, knowledge and utilizing new technology are central to CFS’ mission, this makes the square a classic fit.
The iconic four-pointed isotoxal star (sitting in the centre of the mood board), is re-imagined in the negative space of a hexagon, connecting the ideas of integration, flexibility and organization. The hexagon is the most efficient, least wasteful shape found in nature, paralleling the fundamentals of the CFS brand and its sub-brands, with its flexibility and ability to fit just about any business need.
Triangles (and arrows) suggest strength, movement and growth. Leadership, powerful, and brimming with strong edges, together with CFS’, they inspire improvement, focus and represent action/movement. The triangles pointing forward and backward, speak to the progressive approaches of developing flexible solutions for both the front and back-office systems. The horizontal lines also give the sense of movement, conveying futuristic and tech-savviness, aligning with the ingenuity of the CFS rebrand.
The most profound advancements were reflected in typography, as it fundamentally builds a brand's personality. We looked to invigorate the tired, out-of-date display typeface, replacing it with a modern sans serif. This refresh imparted notions of strength, professionalism and efficiency with the straight-edged, strong and linear lines. The result was a re-energized wordmark that is clean, simple, with a tech-driven character that exudes professionalism.
We also looked at incorporating photo-real imagery with colour grading or pops of a single brand colour. These strategies elevate the brand presence, adding a modern dimension in a dramatic and polished way.
THREE (3) | CONCEPTS
After defining the visual brand direction, it was time to begin developing the logo concepts – our favourite part of the process! Our strengths lie in creating brand identities that translate our clients' vision and bring their message to life in a visual way.
The greatest challenge of creating a brand identity is incorporating several aspects into the design while still keeping it simple.
We had several considerations in mind during this stage, including:
Leveraging the pre-existing authority in the financial equipment leasing industry
Keeping the design versatile and functional
Encapsulating the business philosophies
Creating a broader appeal to secure untapped global markets
As always we start by using pencil and paper to brainstorm visual ideas. From there the ideas with the most potential are refined.
Since design work is subjective, we provide clients with a choice, by presenting two (2) different concepts that we confidently believe answer the directive.
However, a brand identity is more than just a logo; it’s a complete visual system, that should add depth and personality to the brand. This structure gives our clients the confidence to implement and grow.
As part of the concept presentation, we also deliver a brand storyboard that includes the other design elements needed to complete the visual identity— secondary logo, submark, colour palette, typography, patterns and social signatures. In addition, digital in use renderings are developed to showcase how each concept could appear in real-life applications.
For both concepts, the subjective elements were extracted to showcase the systematic approach used to create the abstract and monogram icons.
CONCEPT 1 - The ‘Negative Space Star’ Wordmark
This concept brings together the design element of negative space with the ideation of efficiency. Here we explored the relationship between the iconic four-pointed CFS star and the brand mandate of flexibility with the use of rectangles and triangles to form an abstract hexagon shape. The hexagon as the letter ‘o’ in the wordmark, ‘Constellation’ expresses strength, movement and growth. The points (triangles) facing forward and backwards, up and down, speak to the progressive approaches of developing flexible financial solutions for the entire asset lifecycle. The middle of the hexagon forms the CFS star in the negative space. Highlighted in yellow, it denotes friendliness and is associated with innovation, intellect and super-charged energy -- all characteristics of the brand's mission. Collectively the elements, create an ownable logomark that represents leadership, flexibility and a tech-driven character that exudes professionalism. The complementing blues reinforce the emphasis associated with dependability and stability, linking to formality, while conveying confidence, power and authority. The pop of yellow grabs attention and stimulates the mind, demonstrating the CFS brand as a bold, successful and confident financial software company.
CONCEPT 2 - The ‘Leasing Exchange’ Wordmark
This concept focuses on the strategy that unities CFS’s offerings of seamless software, simplified solutions and superior support in the financial leasing industry. We look at demonstrating the relationship of the leasor and leasee through the representation of interlocking hands to form an abstract letter S, standing for software solutions. The ‘leasing exchange’ icon as the subjective ‘S’ in the word, ‘Constellation’ creates a mark that radiates strength, discipline and leadership. The use of a new geometric typeface develops a sense of power and strength, as it’s synonymous with logic, certain, trustworthiness and order. The wordmark injects high contrast with the pairing of light and bold weights. The harmonious blend of cool, warm and neutral colours (blue, yellow and grey) emanate a fresh and modern feel. The blues inspire integrity and represent credibility, trustworthiness and reliability. Yellow, used as an accent, embodies innovation and intellect. The inclusion of grey, speaks to the brand’s refined and dignified nature, carrying immense authority.
FOUR (4) | REFINE AND BUILD
Both concepts were meaningful branding options. The initial feedback was very positive resulting in the team taking some time to debate and deliberate. In the end, the client felt the star aligned with their brand heritage, so we proceed with Concept 1.
The only revision was to capitalize the F and S in Financial and Software. Due to our considered design approach, we usually have minimal design refinements, if any at all.
To put it simply, this is the process of designing all the other items that will be needed to communicate and launch the new brand identity. For this rebrand also refreshed three (3) of the sub-brands Vision, Covarity and Casitron.
FIVE (5) | LAUNCH
Altogether, this process took 4 weeks. The client launch package always includes a plethora of logo files for both print and web use; including all the brand elements, colour palette, patterns and typography (font files).
Thanks to the brand storyboard, the client understands how to use their new brand identity going forward.
For all our brand identity clients, we offer an ongoing design service to ensure that future projects align with the new branding.
This rebrand has all the makings for success with its logical association between the parent company and specific brand attributes with ties to the leasing industry, resulting in market credibility. The strategy provides a modern edge, boosting CFS’ reputation as a fintech leader generating buzz for future software growth and acquisitions.
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