Behind the Design: A Look at Phase2's New Identity

Behind the Design: A Look at Phase2's New Identity

#Phase2 | Posted

After the Phase2 - Treehouse merger last March, it was important to us as a company to reconsider our combined company's identity from top to bottom, including a new visual design and a new approach to our company's communications and messaging. We wanted our new identity to represent our new combined team and our goals as a company going forward. Of course, a new visual identity is nothing without the organizational and cultural changes needed to back it up. Jeff and Mike have already intro'd our refreshed brand, and Frank has given some background on the site itself, but we also wanted to give you a peek behind some of the visual changes you've seen.


Phase2's previous logo was known for its simplicity and the signature "://" mark. Similarly, Treehouse's previous logo stood out for its signature "treehouse" symbol and "TH" monogram. But the :// mark often confused people on how to pronounce "Phase2" and the color and imagery didn't evoke the same whimsy and "fun" that was so critical in the Treehouse mark.  We even observed some people trying to type "phase://" into their browser's URL field, or asking if our name was "Phase Technology."

To craft a combined and refreshed visual identity, we decided to look outside of the company. We felt it was important that we take a unbiased look at ourselves, and having someone unfamiliar with us as a company was a great way to do that. We chose to work with Chris Herron Design, a firm that specializes in branding and visual identity and could take our combined companies' needs into consideration. Chris was great at asking the right questions, guiding us through the process, and ultimately delivering a new identity that reflected who we are as a company. We were specifically looking for a mark that balanced our friendly and relaxed culture with the professionalism and seriousness with which we approach our work.


While the company decided to retain the "Phase2" name, Chris suggested some additional nods to Treehouse by pulling in a similar shade of orange to Treehouse's original color, as well as integrating a monogram into the logo itself. We felt like the orange really supported our goals for the identity with a friendlier, more vibrant color, too.

You may have noticed that we've dropped "Technology" from our logomark as well. Technology is a big part of what we do (the biggest, really!), but as our clients have requested more and more help in approaching their technology strategies more holistically, we've transitioned from being solely a "development shop" into an organization that prides itself on providing consulting, strategy, and design, as well as development, as needed by our clients..

Showing, Not Telling

Another key element of the process was to revisit our approach to communications and messaging. As an internal team, we revisited our values and mission, and then worked with Amy Cham to help develop a new voice for our external publications -- focusing on "less telling and more showing" the world what Phase2 is all about. We tried to keep our language straightforward and conversational, with elements like the Phase2 Rules to help define our values and how we approach our work.

You'll see this "showing, not just telling" philosophy too in our more people-centric imagery. It's so easy for us to reduce the web to acronyms, jargon, and specific technologies, when the real focus is on the people we're creating tools for. We wanted to support this focus on people instead of technology by more prominently featuring images of both our team, and those we work with on projects.


As a result, we've prioritized photography on this site and other visual materials going forward. Instead of just screenshots of our projects, you'll be seeing more of the people working on those projects, and those we're partnering with on our efforts.


We've also done this on our new business cards but including head shots of each employee. We want people to have a more personal connection to Phase2 when they receive our card, and putting ourselves -- as real people -- forward felt like the best way to do that.

As anyone knows, visual design without the cultural or organizational changes to back it up would be time and money poorly spent. We took great care throughout the process to make sure we weren't just putting a new coat of paint on everything we already did or merely stamping a different on logo on our existing materials. They're intended to complement changes just as meaningful in other areas of the company that we've tweaked. That being said, we're confident that our identity and messaging are a strong and accurate reflection of who we are and where we're headed, setting us up for continued growth and even bigger and brighter things in future.

Take a look around at our new website, which reflects our re-branding efforts, and let us know what you think.

Dave Ruse