Design Management, Design Direction, Brand Development, Visual Design, Guidelines, Campaign, User Experience
Cheapflights is a travel fare aggregator, metasearch engine and deals publisher established in 1996. Over the years the company grew in success but lacked a memorable or distinctive brand experience.
So, in 2015 the company went through a complete root-and-branch relaunch of the brand. I was involved in almost every part of the delivery of the rebrand and worked closely with the executive board, external agencies, department heads and developments teams. My responsibilities as a result of this project grew from leading product design delivery to fully owning the development and delivery of branded assets, products and documentation for all company touch points.
strategy and research
In order to make the rebrand successful Cheapflights needed to understand where it currently stood in the market, who was using its products, what were their thoughts of the brand and their typical behaviours. Extensive workshops and research was conducted with a cross section of the business and the marketing consultancy AddedValue.
The data was analysed and used throughout the rebrand project to define the typologies, their need-states, user experience, brand values, design principles, business goals, product and brand strategies. In order to support the rebrand I worked closely with departments outside of product to learn how they functioned and how the rebrand would effect and could help them.
The New sTory
Equipped with the research findings, Cheapflights was prepared to reposition its offering and relaunch the brand. This meant telling a new story through a vibrant and engaging brand that would make the experience memorable, inspire brand loyalty and be a leader in its market position.
Actioning the Rebrand
Working with Someone
The Agency SomeOne. was commissioned to work on the initial foundations of the rebrand, which included the logo, colours, typography and some examples of brand application such as business cards and templates for Powerpoint.
As the lead product designer I worked as a direct consultant with the agency as they built the key brand foundation stones. I explored the colour schemes, logo placement, typography styles and applied them directly onto digital products. These proposals were used for user testing workshops, where we could see the users reaction to Cheapflights branding both new and old, get their feedback and make required changes before final sign off. This was invaluable learning and experience as the entire rebrand exercise was able to continue seamlessly and develop in-house beyond the agency handover of the brand.
Brand reaction testing
From tests to final sign off it was the logo that underwent the biggest transformation. It went from the bold uppercase proposal with the small airplane running through the typography (which users found difficult to read and missed the plane) to a semibold sentence case with a much larger plane at the end (this made the logo easier to read and more obvious in its offering). Once the logo was signed off, the first iteration of the brand book was completed, with values, beliefs, typography, base colours, wordmark, monogram and tagline lockup.
My task was to apply these rules and create assets for the digital product portfolio as well as creating instructional documentation to support their use. The entire rebrand was rolled out over the summer of 2015 over an 8 week period to be officially launched in Q4 of the same year. Below are some examples of the final assets, the documentation for development and the brand book.
Trademark & Advertising
Once the rebrand was launched, and knowing that having a trademarked visual identity would aid in company credibility a petition was applied for the new brand to be trademarked. All versions of the logo and its lock ups were provided for the case, but only the full wordmark in dark blue with the white plane on the yellow background was finally approved. This meant that guidelines were required for its use, primarily for display advertising and social media. The signed off guidelines were created and managed by my team, with continual updates being required as the brand evolved and communicated throughout the entire business including third parties.
Illustration & Iconography
The rebrand on digital products looked clean, professional and modern to what it had been, but was still lacking in personality. Recognising that this was an area to explore, I enabled this to become a dedicated area of development for the Creative Services team.
Using internal resource and being applied to new products, additional areas of the brand book were fleshed out. This including flat design illustration, illustrative iconography and consolidating icon styling throughout the digital portfolio.
One of the outcomes of Creative Services supporting product was that the library of illustrations and its styles could be applied to social campaigns, infographics and other communication opportunities saving the company money and owning the intellectual property of the artwork.
The illustrations also introduced a secondary colour palette to the brand book and was used extensively across branded collateral. In the first year of the Creative Services team being responsible for more in-house work than ever before, infographics alone saved Cheapflights over £100,000 in 2016 and delivered design solutions across almost every company touch point.
In Q4 of 2015 Cheapflights commissioned the agency ForeverBeta who won the pitch to exclusively launch the repositioning of the brand. This came in the form of an action packed 60 second TV spot called 'The Flying Stuntman'. To support the advert an integrated campaign plan was actioned leading to a working collaboration between in-house teams, third party agencies and national media partners.
The full advert was first launched on Christmas day with cut down versions being shown in cinemas and on TV in January. The advert won 'Best TV advertising' at the Travel Marketing Awards in 2017 for Cheapflights and agency ForeverBeta.
To aid campaign promotion the content team worked on gamification solutions for users to win flights to top destinations. Taking inspiration from the advert content, two games were released over the campaign life cycle.
One was interactive using Google Street View to invite users guess where the 'stuntman' was in the world and the other a 'stunts in the movies' fact learning questionnaire. Both were created by external agencies but with the full support of their promotion and brand usage from my team and visual sign off being done by myself and the Head of Design.
I designed informative responsive campaign landing page that was created to host additional information on the campaign, advert and competition.
All campaign promotion was created and managed in-house with design review and sign off done by myself and project owners. Social media included competition entry promotion that used visuals from the game and the advert, tying visual themes together for both paid and organic posts. Artwork and interactive banner concepts were prepared for a take over and digital advertising on the Guardian online.
Results & Outreach
- Social media promotion lead to 60,000 visits to the interactive game which was also shared 20,000 times.
- 51,000 users entered the competition with 13,000 signing up for the Cheapflights Newsletter.
- Direct traffic to the global sites increase by 120%.
This was a project that evolved over the best part of 2015 - 2017 with continued optimisation and development happening all the time.
One of the first learnings from this project included the need for signed off branded assets and documentation to be hosted on a cloud based service over server side hosting. This allowed for improved asset management, version control and supply to internal and third party stakeholders. Shifting to a cloud based service allowed for a complete filing restructure and an opportunity to improve workflow processes between design and other departments.
It was post launch of the rebrand that I recognised that there was a gap in design resource being offered to the company. A lot of marketing and branded products were still being outsourced and the consistency of brand treatment wasn't being delivered. By creating a dedicated team to the development and ownership of branded assets we could ensure that a consistent brand experience was created. Creative Services was born out of this need and grew to support the entire business.
Future development of the brand for product was the consolidation of UI pattern libraries and starting the Visual Design System project to roll out new and optimised UI assets for design, UX and development teams.
By 2016 more than 120m web/app users and +12m newsletter subscribers in 12 markets were exposed to the new branding which was seamlessly being run across all product and marketing channels including the rebranded app which reached 3 million users doubling the original user base in 6 months.