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Why Subvisual?

Rebranding our company was our biggest challenge yet. Figuring out how to convey our values and ambitions through a new brand while honouring our roots was frightening.

“Why?” you might ask.

Because change is scary.

We’re used to the idea of pursuing stability, of building a strong foundation capable of sustaining the weight of our ambitions. Change comes as a threat to that idea. Why change if things are going ‘OK’? What if things go wrong and we end up in worse shape than we got in?

We were beginning to build a name for ourselves after consulting for big, solid tech names like Blip, AT&T or Bitreserve. We had a huge success with the first RubyConf in Portugal and we finally started to get promising traffic through our blog.

Would a rebrand cause us to lose our momentum? Would we be able to pull it off? How would people respond to it?

These questions never stopped haunting our minds. Even now. But we decided to take a step forward and transform that fear into determination and focus, trusting we’ll overcome this as a team just like every other challenge we’ve come across in almost 4 years.

Nothing good comes easy.

If we were going to do this we had to do it right. That meant questioning everything, company name included.

We wanted to know how our clients, partners and apprentices perceived us from an outside perspective. What was their first impression? What ‘sold us’? After working with us, what makes us unique?

We scheduled a couple of Skype calls and interviewed some of them and their feedback was impressive.

They praised our values and our workmanship while confessing they were far from imagining such team culture before actually talking to us. Our name sounded ‘friendly’ but lacked vision and a professional tone. It didn’t convey our craftsmanship and yet that’s our most singled-out personality trait, our company’s core value.

Our entire rebrand had to be shaped around it.

On one of the countless attempts we made to find a name that somehow translated this, we stumbled upon the word subvisual. It sounded intriguing and exciting.

The dictionary translates subvisual as something “that is too dim to be seen (unaided)”.

It sounded like the perfect metaphor for our craftsmanship, for the way we reach for solutions that seem invisible or impossible for most by sweating the most intangible details. It started to grow on us.

We gave a couple of days to digest it and make sure we were still excited with it after the ‘honeymoon phase’. It was quite exhilarating that, as the days went by, it sort of sticked in the back of our minds. We got inspired to explore and play around with typography and graphics. It felt right.

It was vital to create a three-dimensional brand so the next step was to shape its personality according to our culture and values. It should be a seal of guarantee of excellent work, adaptable to different contexts, since we take part on many sorts of activities. We aimed to demonstrate we have a powerful, skilled team that defaults to transparency.

We succeeded on finding a name for our brand that suited our vision. Now we had to shape its personality, adjust the tone of voice and establish a unique presence.

João Ferreira

About João Ferreira

Believes Design is not about mastering tools but about mastering people. Passionate about music, movies and whisky.
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