As KDG’s brand and marketing designer, my main responsibilities were to create both digital and print materials to set KDG apart from other business services companies.
When I joined the KDG team in late 2018, the company was undergoing a slight re-brand and I was excited to be a part of this transition: from removing color-coded materials for specific target audiences to incorporating more diverse type treatments and photography, we wanted the rebrand to reflect the more sophisticated mid-market clientele the company was seeking.
Once a direction was established, we began expanding the brand to include illustrations and new touch points in the form of surprise boxes for both clients and employees.
Strategy, Branding + Identity, Print Design, Illustration, Art Direction, + More
All office photos courtesy of KDG and Tony Hoffer Photography.
My first project at KDG was to redefine the brand’s visual identity. I was challenged with breathing new life into a locally recognized brand without stripping away too much of what existing clients had come to expect from KDG. I had two simple rules that couldn’t be broken: 1) the logo had to stay exactly as is; and 2) the existing color palette needed to be used. With those two rules in mind, I began exploring new directions for where to take the brand: from bright brutalism posters to the sleek UI shots on Dribbble, I took inspiration from all-around, but primarily from the clean lines and bold walls of our new office space.
The refreshed brand experience exudes feelings of calmness (to convey ease-of-use), reliability (to alleviate anxieties over technology), and trustworthiness (to communicate the idea of being in the hands of experts). The new design system’s imagery brings confidence to the table and lets the KDG brand speak for itself.
The first iteration of the branding guide was quite lean: it primarily consisted of an expanded color palette, new typography styles, examples of photography and blending modes, and the suggestion of using FontAwesome icons (more context on that can be found in the website project).
While at KDG, I continued modifying this brand guide as new creative challenges popped up: I added illustration styles, new sections for internally-developed apps, and pushed the color palette to include a few more colors. I also provided art direction for both professional photography and videography through story-boarding, planning, and identifying roles.
In mid-2020, we started to run into a new challenge in the marketing department: tasked with creating collateral to promote our newest line of service, accounting migrations, we knew we couldn’t keep using the same stock photos of calculators, spreadsheets, computers, and happy people in suits. While those photos were fine to use on our website or on basic service handouts, they didn’t do anything to help convey some of the more abstract ideas found in our whitepapers, webinars, and the occasional infographic.
While we knew custom photography was an option, our team didn’t feel like new photos would solve the problem; instead, our solution was to start incorporating illustrations into the brand. These illustrations captured the spirit of KDG through clean lines and an expanded the color palette in order to become instruments of reference and storytelling.
In late summer 2020, the KDG marketing team looked for ways to connect with new clients and employees while working remotely.
As a designer for a tech company, I rarely had the opportunity to design something that wasn't solely for digital application. I wanted to change that and pitched projects for creating separate onboarding boxes for both new clients and new employees in attempts to bridge this gap in the beginning stages of a relationship. These boxes would be sent by mail and contain various pieces of collateral depending on the package. Working alongside the marketing manager, we fleshed out the ideas and details of each box.
Beginning with client onboarding boxes, we looked to past marketing efforts for inspiration and found it in old celebration boxes: back when KDG was a smaller company and focused more on short-term projects (think small websites and one-off software integrations), celebration boxes full of KDG swag were sent to clients after the completion of a project. Since the company’s ideal client has changed over the years (more long-term development projects with periodic launches each year), we decided to revamp the idea of celebration boxes.
We devised a schedule of when to send celebration boxes: at the start of a new engagement, at periodic intervals in a contract, and after a significant launch in the product. These boxes each have a set of gifts; however, unlike the old boxes with only KDG swag, these new boxes help us remember our roots in the Lehigh Valley with products from local businesses such as Crayola, Martin Guitar, and Just Born candies.
For each box, I designed a card to accompany the gifts. Each card in the series plays off a different one of our four primary colors and each has a different style so that the boxes are always a surprise!
Unfortunately, I never got a chance to see the finished products in action aside from the cards in a few Zoom calls! Our sales assistant was responsible for putting together each box and sending them out at the appropriate intervals.
After we had a strong handle on the process for client onboarding boxes, I developed ideas for the employee boxes after reflecting on my onboarding. During pre-COVID times, new employees were welcomed with a handwritten card, a backpack, some coasters, a water bottle, and a sticker.
In my initial pitch to stakeholders, I presented the box as way to help introduce the company culture since we couldn't meet in the office and get to know everyone in person. My project proposal was accepted, but it was limited in scope, budget, and number of allocated hours. Phase one of the project included the creation of a welcome packet, fast facts postcard, new welcome card, and video (to be sent via email after an employee accepted their offer).
Since we were remote, the welcome cards were only being signed by the one person putting the box together, instead of the whole office. I wanted to maintain some sense of craftiness in the card and I wanted to use this chance as an opportunity to step away from the computer. I pulled inspiration from Lauren Hom, one of my favorite designers, and in an attempt to try something new without blowing my budget, I chose to create a fun lettering piece.
With a mat board, a plastic spoon, two paintbrushes, $11 in sprinkles, some candy and party supplies, I staged a scene at home to photograph for the new cards. Below are some unedited progress shots, including when I used a smaller board on the floor before admitting to myself that I'd need to make the move to the dining room table with a bigger board in order to maintain legibility.
Every now and then, I was given a project in which I could experiment a bit more and not adhere too closely to the brand guidelines. My favorites were the holiday cards. To go along with both of these, I also created animated gifs for an email campaign each year.
AVP Client Engagement
Cord 3 Films