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Designing the future of Sysdoc

Brett Sedcole

How we enabled global collaboration and team work to rebrand from the inside-out, taking a human-centred approach to branding by putting our people and our clients first through the entire process. 

What does ‘brand’ mean to you?  For some it has become shorthand for a variety of static visual assets, like the logo, or look and feel. But to us, brand is more than what a company ‘looks like’. 

An organisation’s brand lives in the minds of the people who engage with it. It’s how people talk about an organisation, and how they interact with it – a good brand increases both trust and loyalty.

Time for a refresh?

At Sysdoc, we pride ourselves as being an innovative consultancy that brings fresh thinking, expertise and energy to our clients. We’ve been recognised through both domestic and international awards, and nurtured a valued client base through an exceptionally high referral rate over the last three decades.

There hadn’t seemed any urgency to look at our brand, but we were aware that it didn’t reflect the very approach we were practicing as the Sysdoc team. Key drivers for our rebrand project were that:

  • Our growth meant we needed our newer employees and clients to be better able to quickly articulate and understand what we do and that reflected our culture and values
  • We needed to stand out - clients often telling us that we underplayed our true value – we wanted a brand that confidently reflected us a whole
  • With a global workforce, this project needed to unify – it was an all or nothing approach. Everyone needed to be engaged and excited by a brand overhaul.

To deliver a compelling, authentic and unified brand, we developed a four-phased approach.

From intelligence gathering to the final output, every stage was informing and driving the next. The knowledge gathered from internal and external research enabled data-driven decision making through the Strategy, Creative and Launch phases. 

1. Let the investigation begin

Our objectives were set. We set up a global team and developed a clear understanding of our culture, external brand perception and our competitive landscape to inform the creation of our new brand.

We used three main techniques: Competitor Analysis, Brand Experience Interviews and Brand Experience Workshops.

  • Analysing over 25 of our competitors, we gained valuable insights that could set us apart. We understood the importance of using our unique brand story as a point of difference and putting our people at the heart of this to portray our company culture.
  • The Brand Experience Workshops and Interviews connected us to over a third of our global team and over ten global clients. Moulded from Aaker’s pioneering academic brand research, they provided an insight into people’s perceptions and attributes of the Sysdoc brand.

With this new knowledge we were able to construct an accurate attribute map that described the organisations culture and values. Incredibly, the attributes were consistent. Globally. These, and the research outputs, were the foundations we needed for the project to take flight.

2. Strategic thinking

Having a cohesive brand strategy would help us to communicate with our clients and new and potential recruits more clearly. The more consistent our messaging, the more likely we are to attract and maintain an audience which engages with the Sysdoc brand and business.  

Working collaboratively with our stakeholders, we developed:

  • Revised offering and market approach - Streamlining our offering to three core practices, applying  principles from aviation to lead organisations to future ways of working, building intelligence and capability.
  • Our purpose - Enabling people to work in a simpler, smarter way.
  • Our tagline - Delivering the future of work.
  • Our vision - To be recognised for reimagining consulting and delivering future ways of working.  To inspire our people and the people we work with. To be a sustainable, growing business.
  • Our values
  • Defined unique value proposition

We allowed plenty of time for this phase with a significant proportion of the overall project time spent here. We ensured that our leadership teams and stakeholders had contributed to, and agreed our brand strategy and that this aligned to the business aims.

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3. Visualising Sysdoc

Our team of UK and NZ based in-house designers started to do what they do best - design a range of possible brand identities. We tackled this phase in four steps:

  • Step One – The Brief
    • We developed a robust design brief outlining exactly what we were designing. This comprised of the research findings and strategy outputs.
  • Step Two – Ideation
    • We researched (including field trips to museums and exhibitions, especially aviation related – given our heritage), creating multiple mood boards. We ran Skype enabled, early morning/late night, global ideation workshops (the fun of working in a global business!)
    • We began designing the website structure, developing the information architecture, wireframes, content structure and continually tested this with users.
  • Step Three – Visual Design
    • The real visual design began, exploring countless typefaces, logo lockups, colour palettes, photography styles, and website designs - all qualified against the brief from Step One.
  • Step Four – Presentation
    • We developed a showcase presentation pack with our top four recommended brand identities. For each option we presented, we detailed our design decisions and included logo, colour palette and typeface.

After some minor updates to align all stakeholders, the visual identity was agreed.

Our selected logo - The Sysdoc Winglet  - identified with our company’s aviation heritage and brand story; a nod to our past, yet forward-focused and streamlined, while our playful colour palette brings the brand personality to life through an injection of vibrant colour that excites and energises.

With the website under development, we moved into Phase Four – Launch.

4. Getting it off the ground

This was the time to change the conversation. We were now talking about ‘The Future of Sysdoc’ and we were ready to introduce the brand to a global audience.

We launched the ‘We are’ marketing campaign to both internal and external audiences with the following aims:

  • To inspire people to connect with the Future of Sysdoc.
  • To engage people to talk with passion about the Future of Sysdoc.
  • To build excitement and emotion for everyone around the Future of Sysdoc.
  • To deliver an understanding of the key themes of the Future of Sysdoc.
  • To prepare for the Future of Sysdoc.

What we learned from designing the future of Sysdoc

The challenge, as in many businesses, was bringing different geographical organisations together in a clearly articulated purpose and vision. The journey was tough, but we learned a lot about how our global businesses are different and complementary – and because of the effort we’d put in at the beginning, when we got to the answer, little compromise was needed – the brand identity was clear.

In reality, and as with any company committed to creating an authentic and engaging brand, our journey is not over – we will need to continually hold ourselves to account against our purpose and values for our brand to remain successful, but the clear takeaways have been that:

  • We have a contemporary and vibrant identity that allows us to stand out. We have received consistent feedback from clients that they not only love our brand and connect with our values, but understand our full range of services.
  • It has increased our online engagement, with a 50% increase in website views and a 20% increase in time spent on our site.
  • Our team are now aligned with the brand, the messaging and company direction. Our people can speak with confidence and enthusiasm about Sysdoc.
  • It has brought us greater understanding of our global community and given us better ways to work together.

But, this is only the start. Our brand will continue to move with the changing face of a dynamic business environment. There is a renewed enthusiasm within our team to ensure the great brand story continues.

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