How Frontify Built Its Brand Company-Wide
Every team has its part to play in building the Frontify brand. Here's how we keep our whole team engaged with the brand, and why it matters.
Roger Dudler started Frontify in 2013. For two years he built it alone, then brought in an experienced CEO to manage the early stages of growing the company before stepping into the CEO role himself in 2019.
But how did Frontify grow from its origins as a tool for improving collaboration between developers and designers into a leading brand management platform today?
Roger’s vision for Frontify was clear. He wanted Frontify to “be seen as the brand for brands.” To do this, we knew we needed to get the whole team bought into the brand, working together to build our product, content, and company reputation that would be recognized and admired by other brand builders.
Frontify built its brand by making sure everyone in the company understood the importance of having a strong brand. We prioritized engaging everyone – across all teams and levels – to uphold our brand values and provide a consistent experience for their customers.
Our CEO had a Clear Vision for the Product & Company
To build a strong brand, you need a clear vision for everyone to work toward. That vision should come from your CEO or founder – like Roger’s vision that Frontify would become “the brand for brands.”
His passion for brands has helped him develop this clear vision for the company. “When I started off,” Roger said, “Frontify was meant to be a tool that made it easier for developers and designers to work together, something that helped bring people together. And now our vision is for a world where everyone is part of building beloved brands.”
To execute his vision, he needed Frontify to be recognized within the branding community and develop its reputation as a “beloved brand.” To do this, he aligned the company with other best-in-class brands. For our recent rebrand, he chose to work with DesignStudio, the same agency that delivered two other world-class rebrands: Airbnb and the Premier League.
Roger understood that his passion for everything related to brands would help build good relationships with our customers, but to drive the company forward, he needed to improve his own leadership skills. He wanted to play to his strengths when building the brand and the business, so he used the StrengthsFinder assessment to better understand his leadership style. The assessment identified him as an Includer. Gallup describes Includers as those who “accept others. They show awareness of those who feel left out and make an effort to include them.”
Every single person plays a crucial role in building the company and building the brand.
As an Includer, Roger realized his biggest opportunity was to involve the whole team in building the Frontify brand. “Every touchpoint counts, and every single person plays a crucial role in building the company and building the brand,” he said.
And while everyone has an important role to play, your CEO should lead from the front when building your brand. Our State of Brand Ownership Report found that “C-level executives are generally the most involved in the development of the ongoing brand strategy.”
Rather than getting their hands dirty, doing the actual work of creating branded assets and guidelines, your CEO needs to be the guiding light for your brand. That means answering the big questions like:
- What does your brand stand for?
- What is the vision for the company?
- How does your company embody your brand’s values and purpose?
Building and maintaining a brand is an ongoing, long-term commitment for the whole company. It can’t be achieved by one person alone – even if that person is the CEO. Instead, their role is to help all the other departments in your business understand how each team can contribute to creating, managing, and sharing your brand – so that brand-building isn’t just a priority for your C-suite.
Our Product Designers Established a Cohesive Brand Design
A cohesive brand design is essential because consistency is one of the most important aspects of a strong brand. Your customers should recognize you whether they’re on your website, reading your newsletter, or using your product.
If your marketing and sales content has one tone and visual style, but your product looks completely different, you’re giving customers mixed messages about the company and a confusing impression of who you really are. Your product is the part of your brand that customers interact with most frequently, which means product designers have an important part to play in building your brand and bringing it to life for your customers.
To establish a cohesive brand design, product designers should work with marketing and other departments that create customer-facing assets to ensure visual consistency across everything you create. By collaborating with other departments – like marketing, sales, and support – product designers can make sure the product’s design is consistent with your brand and that its functionality matches up with what marketing and sales are sharing with customers.
Additionally, product design teams should identify all the ways that your product can reflect your brand – not just visually through logos and color choices, but also by bringing in your brand’s personality through tone of voice and style of messaging.
Consistency is one of the most important aspects of a strong brand.
At Frontify, our product design team worked collaboratively with the marketing department to define what the brand meant for the product and how they could bring the brand into the product.
Daniel Demel, our product design lead, explained: “We worked with a copywriter from the marketing team, who actually helped us to formulate our own design principles that have been derived from our brand’s mission and our brand’s values and personality.”
The product design team used these brand-driven design principles to guide their decision-making when developing the product. “We tried to create principles that would help us and guide us when it came to how we’re going to work and how we’re going to make decisions,” said Daniel.
But these principles proved so valuable that they were then shared beyond the product design team. They’ve since been adopted by all departments at Frontify. “These were taken over as the guiding principles for all design at Frontify, so marketing or brand design would all look at it from the same perspective,” Daniel said.
Sharing brand-driven design principles helped create alignment across different departments and made it easier for us to create a consistent visual identity for marketing and product content.
Frontify took one more step to establish a cohesive brand design and improve design consistency. We split the design team in two to integrate the team throughout the company. “We have the product design team that is part of the product organization,” said Daniel, “and we have marketing brand designers who are part of the marketing organization.” Even after splitting the team in two, our designers still have regular workshops, bringing together marketing and product design to collaborate on customer-facing materials and touchpoints. With skilled designers in both marketing and product departments, we can ensure high-quality design and consistency of our visual branding in both areas of the business.
Our Support Team Has the Customer in Mind at All Times
Your support team should have the customer in mind at all times because they interact with the customer more than any other department. And every customer interaction is a reflection of your brand, so every call, email, and support ticket answered builds your company’s reputation in the eyes of your customers.
At Frontify, we made sure our customer support team understood the role they play in building the brand. “We represent the brand in the way that we approach customers. How we communicate. The tone of voice. All these things come together in a way where customers get an idea of the company. The more consistent, the more it’s aligned, the better,” said Daniel Kästli, our VP of Customer Success.
Our support team looks at any new product update, feature launch, or company change with one question in mind: What does the customer need to know about this? Our support team maintains a close working relationship with our product marketing team to answer this question. Product marketing helps to make sure all our support reps always have access to the latest, most up-to-date product information and materials so that they can communicate it to our customers.
Every customer interaction is a reflection of your brand.
“The product marketing team looks at each of the products in the development and comes up with all the information and training we need after the introduction of this product or feature,” said Daniel. “This helps us (the support team) to communicate in consistent ways because everyone internally has the same materials.”
Our support team has also created their own support-specific training materials to ensure all customers receive a consistent, high-quality support experience. This involves providing new support reps with email templates and filters to help them familiarize themselves with the Frontify style and tone right from day one with the company. Creating templates for common support responses helps maintain a consistent tone of voice for our support team.
Your support team needs to be kept up to date with new product updates, as well as important marketing campaigns. If you’re releasing new features, train your support team on the features ahead of time, and share your marketing and sales materials with them so they understand the customer expectations from your product. We run regular internal training and education sessions to help all our support reps get all the information they need to answer customers’ questions about new products and features.
Our Sales Team Gets Involved in the Brand Creation Process
Your sales team needs to gets involved in the brand creation process because they are often the first human interaction a potential customer has with your company, so you need to be sure they’ll provide a great first impression.
Your sales team builds your brand reputation with people who aren’t yet your customers. Many of the prospects who speak to your sales team may never go on to become customers, but if you present them with a consistent, recognizable brand, they’re more likely to remember you than if your messaging is inconsistent and confusing. Word-of-mouth is still a powerful customer acquisition channel. If you give prospects a good experience in the sales process, even if they don’t buy your product, they may still think highly enough of your service and product to recommend it within their network.
Our State of Brand Ownership Report found that the sales team is typically one of the least involved in a brand’s development and management. So we were very mindful of getting our sales team bought into the brand creation process by helping them recognize the importance of their role as the first touchpoint for prospects who are learning about us and our product for the first time.
“We are the entry point into the company for our prospects,” said Stephanie McSwiney, our VP of Sales. “We have a lot of conversations around their brand and brand maturity, but also about brand value and how they would achieve that.”
Your sales team builds your brand reputation with people who aren’t yet your customers.
Your sales team can deliver a strong first impression of your brand by getting involved in the brand creation process. Many sales teams may think of marketing as the gatekeepers of all things brand-related, but you can empower them to create their own branded sales collateral such as slide decks, info packs, and videos. Giving them templates to use and clear brand guidelines to follow will help your sales team achieve design and messaging consistency while giving them a sense of brand ownership at the same time.
To further involve our sales team in building the Frontify brand, we created an overarching revenue team that encompasses the departments responsible for all stages of the customer journey: marketing, sales, and customer support. With our sales team as part of our revenue team, it’s easier for sales to get involved with conversations relating to the brand and to get all the branded assets they need.
With our sales team as part of our revenue team, this helps us focus on helping our prospects: We take a consultative approach to sales rather than going for the hard sell. As a result, lots of the conversations we have with our customers focus on understanding their needs and their challenges rather than being all about our product.
But if you don’t want to do a major team restructure like we did, running regular cross-department meetings for customer-facing teams is another way you can improve messaging alignment and engage your sales team in the brand creation process.
Build a Strong, Recognizable Brand for Your Company
One of the most important things you need to build a strong brand is to achieve consistency across the look, feel, and sound of your company. This means design consistency, but also consistent messaging and tone. To achieve this, you need people from all departments to work together to create a consistent experience for customers and prospects alike.
But to achieve that consistency, you need clear direction from the company leaders. Everyone in the business needs to understand what the brand means – to you and to your customers. These are just some of the ways different teams work together to build a brand like Frontify.