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Connecting the dots: Lapine’s rebranding story

For years, Lapine has been storytelling for brands across digital platforms and physical experiences, but it’s been a while until we told our own story. This winter, I led the rebrand of Lapine, in collaboration with almost every person in the company. It was a true journey to the core of our brand, a journey we hadn’t navigated in a long time. I’m pleased to be able to unveil the results, and provide my own insights and takeaways as Creative Director.

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Our Branding Journey

At Lapine, we create best-in-class consumer engagement experiences for brands. We’re the agency behind Gatorade’s Gx bottles, the brands that power Zola’s Wedding Shop, digital and physical solutions for Marriott, Save the Children and more. We’re used to increasing brand loyalty by creating engaging, impactful moments for brands both online and in real life – now we needed a way to reflect our meaningful insights, exceptional creative work and innovative solutions through one clear lens. We needed a rebrand.

The most important step in a rebrand effort is to be completely honest with yourself as a company and make sure the reasons for doing one are sound, well thought out and that excellence is achievable. A rebrand is not simply changing a logo. It’s thoroughly understanding your company culture, what you represent and what you are capable of. Is there a disconnect in how your customers perceive you with how you see yourself? Does your current branding distract from or not properly showcase your core services? Does our current branding resonate with our employees? Do they feel pride and motivation from it? Do they feel it represents what we do – what they do – in the best way possible?
Only after harnessing all of that information through internal and external feedback is when you can begin the process.

Vision and Scope

Rebranding means creating a not only a new look and feel, but clear cut messaging of who you are. This needs to unfold through design, color, copy, imagery and voice. Knowing all the areas that will be affected by the rebrand is essential to both resource planning, budget and execution. It will take both internal and external resources to achieve, so building the right team, scoping a proper budget and creating a firm and manageable timeline are essential.

Understanding your audience

One of the most essential aspects of being a Creative Director is to listen. For me, step one was to go to nearly everyone I could find in the company and gather information. From Business Unit leaders taking me through their day to day interactions with their clients and possible leads, to our Insights team providing research about our target audiences to ensure we would connect with clarity and impact to the right people through our rebrand.

For us, our core audiences are not just the right clients we want to attract, but future employees as well. I cannot stress this enough: your brand is your first impression and sets the foundation of how people perceive your business. Having to clarify disconnects or doubts about your capabilities with either clients, employees, vendors or potential talent is at best time consuming and at worst lost business or opportunity.

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Bring in an outside perspective

Prior to joining Lapine, I owned my own small design studio, so I know the importance of bringing in an outside perspective and talent to major projects like this one. We were so lucky to have Maria Zoeller as a freelance designer on this project, who was both an astute listener as well as a constant idea generator. She helped us to see our brand from a third party perspective, which is extremely valuable. In business and as it is in life, it can sometimes be difficult to look at yourself objectively. Having the balance of my Senior Art Director Rebecca Kunzmann’s experience and knowledge of our brand and Maria’s untethered point of view was the perfect mix of informed and experimental. I knew giving both of them the freedom to explore both aspects of that scale was essential to the places we would be able to go creatively.
Any time you are working with external collaborators, it’s important to ensure that freelancers are given the trust and license to contribute at a high level and that your internal team has the freedom to explore and play. Some of the best ideas came from collaborating with Maria, as the dynamic she and Rebecca had with each other was both exciting to see unfold and to experience the work that came from it. From a copywriting perspective, finding another Maria – Maria Marmanides – gave us another wonderful collaborator. She was essential in understanding our voice and enabled the copy to seamlessly integrate with the visual elements and to elevate the entire effort.

Invite internal team insights

I could name almost everyone at Lapine as a collaborator because everyone had a hand in shaping this rebrand. It was important to gain an understanding of the company from each and every teammate’s perspective. Yes, there’s the danger of having “too many cooks” but we were able to bring together the opinions and experiences of each team under one clear brand identity.

Think about real-life applications

Once you create your brand guidelines, you have to execute on it. Team members will have to immerse themselves in the new brand identity until they can live and breathe the brand and reflect it in their work. That means the guide will have to be easy to use, translatable across multiple platforms, and make sense not just for current times, but for the future.

Keep this in the back of your mind as you build the brand guide. During the branding process, I like to ask myself a few key questions:

1. Is this just a trend? Sometimes colors, fonts and formats can be fleeting trends. We need to make sure we’re creating a brand that withstands the test of time.
2. Do the messages address our target audience’s current and future needs? During the entire branding process, we should have our target audience top of mind. This requires an in-depth look at our employees, current and future clients, their demographics, wants, needs and behaviors.
3. Is this clear to future employees, vendors and partners? The job of the brand guide is not just to facilitate consistent and clear communication to our target audience, it’s also to communicate who we are to future collaborators. We will start to attract the right prospective employees, vendors and partners through our new messaging, look and feel.

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of our team, hours of research, and hundreds of design iterations, we finally feel our branding reflects who we are. So let’s get to it then. Scroll down for the unveiling of Lapine’s rebrand.

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One Exceptional Brand

Everyone wants connection in their daily lives, and every brand wants to be the one to connect emotionally to their audiences. This year, in a time where so many of us were not connected, we wanted to bring the feeling of connectivity to the forefront of our brand.

Connecting the dots

The core of our brand comes down to Connecting The Dots. We know we connect brands to their consumers, but the key question was how do we do it better than everyone else? The answer was by navigating the journey through insights, design, production and execution. Taking our clients, employees and partners from Point A to Point B with expertise, confidence and vision no matter how far we need to go.
When we finally put this idea of “connecting the dots” down on paper, we knew it was the perfect fit. For 60 years, connecting the dots is what we’ve done best. Brands that come to us want different; they want to be more creative with their consumer engagement activations.

The pandemic brought us many challenges, the biggest being a lack of connection. And all this time, we’ve had connection at our core. But now, we’re living in such a digital world and these physical connections are more important and more impactful than ever.

Stemming from this idea of connection came a few more ways we were able to define our brand. Here are a few you’ll see as we continue to execute on our brand guide moving forward:

  • We are a consumer engagement agency that brings brand stories to life.
  • We create physical connections for your brand in a digital world.
  • We meet people where they are, at every touch (and non-touch) point. We’re hands-free and hands-on, we make every experience better for consumers, our clients, and even the planet.
  • No matter what journey your brand is on, we’ll lead you from start to finish.
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Look and feel

How did we capture this concept in the visual portion of our rebrand? One look at the logo will connect the dots for you (see what I did there?). While we wanted to keep our identifiable “L” shape, we were able to make the logo speak more to our brand essence through this dot and line design.

Layers are a main focus within the logo as well. This speaks to our six brand tiers which make up the end-to-end solutions that hold Lapine together:

1. Insights

2. Design

3. Digital

4. Merchandise

5. Logistics

6. Concierge

My design team and I spent time thinking about how to represent the many layers of Lapine. We found ourselves thinking about the merchandising solutions that we essentially package and deliver to our clients. From there we naturally thought of a box. I actually spent time looking into how cardboard was created. The corrugate is the same material, yet in different shapes and forms, all working together in layers to provide strength and function – a whole better than the sum of its parts . That box, and its corrugated cardboard became our inspiration.

Our font choices are clear and familiar, yet bold. They speak to the clarity and understanding of our own identity through this exciting rebrand process. They say we’re back and we’re better than ever. They encompass both the freedom in finding our new identity, and the confidence in staying true to who we are.

Our color story was also highly calculated. The orange color to me means comfortable confidence, which is something you have when you do what you do exceptionally well. It is a color of energy, enthusiastic urgency and getting things done. It straddles the worlds of creative solutions and strategic insights, which is at the core of what we do on a daily basis.

Overall, our look and feel is balanced, clean and confident. Most importantly it communicates what we needed the world to see for so long; a brand that connects the dots and gets you where you want to go through insights, design, experience, expertise and exceptional execution.

We’re used to solving brand puzzles – for other brands. Our own branding journey was challenging and revealing, as it had us dive into how to express the root of who we are and what we do every day. But that’s also why it was incredibly rewarding.

Follow Lapine on LinkedIn to observe our own branding journey, and our upcoming client work.

Steve Merola is Creative Director at Lapine Associates

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