Creative director for Swappa, a peer-to-peer marketplace for second-hand electronics
A brand identity system to fit the marketplace's growing options
Iteration and opening wide the visual concepts already present
Swappa finally had the building blocks to confidently expand its marketing efforts
After joining Swappa in January, one of the first major projects for the newly-minted design team was given was to work with the team on a new identity for the company. There’d been a handful of iterative logo updates over the years, but they’d all been based on the same idea. Swappa began with a focus on Android devices, so the identity of the company was based largely on the the green robot early users were familiar with. As time went on, the platform’s catalog diversified and the connection to Android grew less important, if not a liability. Projects like its new gaming category and site migration looming, the team wanted to explore how something new could better capture the value of Swappa without direct ties to any particular technology.
Initial planning in place, the group agreed on the following goals:
Break away from Swappa’s roots in Android, which now only represents a part of the larger marketplace offerings
Expand Swappa’s reach beyond its technically-savvy core audience
Establish a system of resources that represent Swappa consistently across platforms, products, and marketing
Work began with understanding the internal and external perceptions of the company.
A set of exercises were run with the leadership to establish values as a business, as a culture, and their relationship with Swappa’s customer base. Results from these revealed the concept of “Bleeding Green:” a dedication to open collaboration, being motivated by the energy of small groups, and a deep empathy for the Swappa community. The support staff is by far the biggest team in the company, and stories of employees going well beyond the scope of “normal” customer support highlighted this idea.
We also explored customer reactions online through social media and Swappa’s extensive backlog of off-site reviews left by buyers and sellers alike. Key themes were defined from six months of collected data, with the following being the most prominent:
Price & savings
Peace of mind
Ease of use
The results showed that while customers come for the price, they stay as continuing users for the feeling of security and the unique level of service from the Swappa team. Reviewers frequently recommended Swappa to family and friends offline, became sellers after buying, and proclaimed the marketplace was now their primary place to purchase products Swappa supported. Even some negative reviews noted the quality of the Swappa experience over competing options.
The overall theme from this research revealed the concept of the helping hand offered by both the Swappa team and the community to each other.
The research revealed an important underlying facet to Swappa’s value, but it wasn’t the only one. Themes of technology and re-usability were important points to consider. Lastly, the team liked the idea of a mascot or character to represent these values and connect more closely to Swappa users. With these in mind, the design team drafted hundreds of ideas, meeting with leadership each week to discuss the direction.
Regular input from the team helped us define a visual style and narrow our identity concepts. The the chosen logo from the final selection was the Sprite.
A major evolution of Swappa’s older identity, the Sprite represents the values of the Swappa marketplace - a supportive community that values the usefulness of technology. It is flexible as a static form in both large and small sizes, but comes alive through a variety of animations.
Paired with the Sprite is the Swappa name set in Neusa Next. The typeface balances Swiss design with a blocky, utilitarian nature representative of the company’s Midwestern roots. The S and W were connected as another nod to the helpful nature of Swappa and its users.
Finally, to accompany a confident update to the Swappa green, we added a blue and yellow as secondary colors. The trio offered a more accessible contrast ratio while providing an everyday, friendly palette reminiscent of affordable corner markets.
The Sprite solves for the goals of the project without losing the brand equity built up by previous Swappa logos. Neusa Next and the expanded color palette offer a variety of ways to express its messaging while remaining consistent.