SASCU Brand Refresh
RESEARCH, BRANDING, GRAPHIC DESIGN
We first encountered the fine folks at SASCU (formerly Salmon Arm Savings & Credit Union) when they discovered our No-Fee-Super-Free campaign.
We were excited to do a free RSP campaign for them, and dove into their site, brand materials, and publicly available documents. During that discovery process, we noted that there were a lot of disparate brand elements and disjointed graphics that were impacting brand consistency and messaging.
Acknowledging that it had been a number of years since they had undergone their rebrand to "SASCU", and that tightening things up again would be helpful, they agreed to have us come visit them in Salmon Arm and implement a brand refresh project.
This project covered everything from on-site focus groups and branch tours to brand strategy, voice, and visual design recommendations. After approving final directions, a new brand guide and suite of templates and materials were provided to the SASCU marketing department to use with all campaigns.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Our research showed that staff and members alike felt a lack of clarity when it came to the actual name of the credit union. During our site visits, we counted up to eight different implementations of the brandmark! We ended up simplifying it down to just one for most uses.
- 39-page strategy recommendation brief
- 3 recommended visual brand directions
- 18-page brand guideline document
- 8 custom-illustrated icons
- 4 custom background patterns
- 16 new brand colours added to palette
- 5 design templates for stationery and web
- 100% unique custom caricature creator
An exhaustive process
Our research utilized a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods, engaging a range of internal stakeholders and external sources including:
- Staff and executive focus groups
- Branch visits to review on-site brand requirements
- 951 member comments/NPS scoring
- Extensive reviews of past brand materials and marketing content
- On-site community engagement to better understand local values and interests
- Review of member feedback for the recently updated Strategic Roadmap.
In addition, thorough competitor analysis in regards to branding, audience targeting, marketing and communication strategies provided valuable data regarding where the competition was spending their money in Salmon Arm and the surrounding areas.
Drawing inspiration from our surroundings
On-site visits provided a fantastic opportunity to draw inspiration from the physical location, community, and surroundings. In fact, the basis for our final background patterns and a few secondary colours came directly from decor at their modern, award-winning Uptown branch.
Finding their voice
Among other things, SASCU's brand voice was found to be inconsistent. Being friendly and genuine in face-to-face interactions while corporate and stuffy in most written and marketing content. Members would love speaking to staff in the branch but rarely engaged with them in more social channels.
We helped SASCU identify where the brand voice was, and where they wanted it to be: a friendly, community-oriented brand that people were comfortable and excited to engage with. We then provided tools to help guide the brand voice going forward.
The initial rebrand, while extremely well executed, was relatively limited in terms of how much variety there was in terms of colour, texture, and text.
We knew that the first thing we'd do with 100% certainty was to expand the colour palette. A lot.
The original colour palette was limited to Black, White, SASCU Blue, and SASCU Green. There was nothing wrong with those, so we made them the "Primary Palette" with specific tints for versatility. Then we got really creative, building out extensive Secondary and Tertiary Palettes to complement the rest of their materials.
The Secondary Palette's purpose is to act as an extension of the primary palette by introducing 4 new colours, and 4 specific shades of grey. "Spruce" and "Shuswap Lake" were both created to help promote the Insurance and Wealth lines of business more intentionally, while "Midnight Sky" and "Granny Smith" rounded it out by adding very dark and very bright tones for added contrast and highlighting.
The Tertiary Palette's purpose was created to provide added variety when required, or to source a context-appropriate hue for illustrations or icons when building campaign materials. The get used sparingly but are available for brand-approved use when the need arises.
Type & texture
The purpose of the font families we selected for brand and marketing purposes was to complement the feeling of SASCU’s overall brand identity. They are clear, legible, resistant to dating and they have enough diversity and versatility to work with a variety of different layouts.
Montserrat was chosen as our “square” typeface, used for headlines; it puts the professional foot forward in all materials. The letterforms are geometric, which also helps create a timeless aspect.
Nunito Regular, our body copy selection, is our “round” typeface; it was chosen to create balance by incorporating a softened, approachable build. Nunito expertly blends legibility with just the right amount of rounding, so it works perfectly for large amounts of text.
We also decided to create background patterns for each of SASCU's various lines of business; they would add visual interest to simpler creative in a subtle way that doesn't distract from the message. The patterns were inspired by textiles and furniture located in SASCU's Uptown branch, which we felt would be a cool discovery if anybody made the connection while waiting to renew their Autoplan insurance!
The heart of it all
The "pulse" was the name of the primary graphic element we adapted to tie together everything from web banners and print materials to credit cards and other branded documents.
Based on the little outcropped "A" from their previous rebrand, it was redesigned to be used with different colour combinations taken from the primary, secondary and tertiary palettes, (although its default combination is SASCU Green, Shuswap Lake, Spruce, and SASCU Blue as seen in the "Classic" credit card on the right.)
It was important for us to create a system to keep things looking cohesive, but we didn't want it to be as stale and rigid as it had been before with only two colours.
For that reason, the pulse can often be the vessel for highlighted tertiary colour use, as well as a divider for angled screens as seen on the credit card designs below.
Illustrating our point
Member testimonials are an excellent way to add credibility, and relatability, to campaign messaging. The tricky part is getting pictures of your members for each campaign while having your ads stand out from the competition. We opted for providing a simple way to feature any member while offering brand differentiation from the competition: The Custom Caricature Creator.
The C3 is an extensive Adobe Illustrator file with dozens of layers, each containing facial, clothing and hair elements to quickly and easily create a wide range of client avatars. This allowed us to create extremely stylized caricatures that were both on-brand every time, a consistent in quality (which can crop up if you don't have the same photographer/set all the time).
The cherries on top
In addition to the C3, we also created a library of icons for use on banners, posters, and the website designed to have a consistent fit with the style of the caricatures, and give everything we produced for SASCU the feeling that it was "part of a set".
We really enjoyed working on this project (Luke even noted it as one of the top 3 highlights of his career), and are extremely excited for the future SASCU has in store!