Home Companies How to Rebrand a $72M Company: Meet the Brain Behind SUPPLY.com

How to Rebrand a $72M Company: Meet the Brain Behind SUPPLY.com

by Carey Tucker

At midnight on November 19, the SUPPLY.com team flipped the switch and officially rebranded (check out our previous covereage here). As anyone who’s been a part of a successful rebranding effort knows, pulling it off requires months of strategic planning, clear communication, and extensive documentation. One of the most critical and most visible aspects of this transition is the look and feel of the company’s new design.

When Senior Designer, Justin Jackson, joined the team in September, he had less than two months to rebrand National Builder Supply from scratch. On day one, he went all-in. The tale of his design journey is one of triumph, neologism, and unexpected sabotage by the Turks. Hypepotamus recently sat down with the “SUPPLY.com Swag Czar” to learn more about his background, the design process, and his advice for anyone else undertaking such an enormous project.

Rebranding a Company of 100+ People

Prior to joining the SUPPLY.com team, Justin had experience with rebranding several different businesses at his previous job, but says most were on the smaller scale. “That was pretty much our bread and butter at EYStudios – we would redo their logo, update their color scheme, all that stuff. Rebranding, and branding, in general, is a real passion of mine,” he asserts. “Learning of the magnitude of this redesign and knowing that I’d have to own it 100% really lit a fire beneath me to put my best foot forward. I knew the new SUPPLY.com brand really had to be on point. I wanted what I designed to matter.”

In the lab with Justin Jackson

Not only did the new branding have to be on point, but it had to be finalized well in advance of the November deadline. This left Jackson with the daunting task of redesigning a $72M company in less than two months. Needless to say, he hit the ground running. “I started the process by immediately interviewing the co-founders,” says Jackson. “I asked them, ‘What industry are we in and what industry are we looking break into? Who’s our current target audience? Who are we looking to go after next?’, as well as some of the major themes the rebrand needed to communicate.”

“I then went straight to sketching and creating word clouds by researching the industry, the environment, our competitors, and other areas we could grow into to find power words to draw from. We were looking to communicate: relationships, inventory, service, trustworthy, technology, strong, and data,” he continues. “Word clouding really helps to narrow down and focus on what the ultimate iconography and logo needs to evoke.”

Stopped by Go: The Turkish Gas Station Fiasco

As the design process moved forward, Jackson landed on a logo that he felt ticked all the boxes. “I knew right off the bat that our logo would have some kind of icon shape paired with the text of SUPPLY.com. Figuring out an icon that went with the word cloud we did was one of the harder parts of this process,” explains Jackson. “The first logo we made (see below) had no box, SUPPLY in all caps, and in the negative space, an upward, right pointing, rounded edge triangle that we were going to set in green. It was known as ‘the talisman,’ and we were going to use it as a special, magical icon throughout the site.”


The original SUPPLY.com logo, featuring the talisman


The GO branding, also featuring the talisman

However, just as Justin began to feel confident about his new creation, a wrench was thrown into the works by way of Anatolia. “I was pursuing a site I look at pretty frequently, looking for branding ideas from other companies’ brand books. I found this Turkish gas station called GO and my jaw dropped – the color scheme was essentially the same and the way they used the talisman was exactly how I envisioned using it. It was like the emergency brakes had just been pulled,” he recalls. “We had to stop dead in our tracks and re-think everything we’d done. Luckily, it wasn’t scorched earth due to all the work leading up to this logo. But, I was forced to ask myself, ‘Okay, what made this one successful? Where can we take this and evolve it a little bit more?’ We liked how the text was working, so we started, and it was back again to the drawing board.”

Rising from the Ashes: The Concentragon

Determined to come up with an even more powerful logo, Justin and Director of UX, Matt Hobbs, began playing with triangles and different line strokes. “We landed on a house-like shape and our first one looked like a gazebo or a pinecone. We took that idea, deconstructed it a little more, and landed on the ‘concentragon’ shape, which was just a funny word we came up with,” reveals Jackson. “It’s essentially a hexagon that’s cut in half so you can only see 4 sides of it. We then shrunk it down into a different shape and Matt said something to the effect of, ‘It’s a concentric hexagon.’ I responded, ‘Like a concentragon?’ We were both blown away and said, ‘That’s it! CONCENTRAGON!’”


The final SUPPLY.com logo, featuring the concentragon

“We cut it down the middle, added another color to the other side to give it some depth and dimensionality, and put it inside that box off to the left of the SUPPLY.com text (see below). Putting the logo inside of a rectangular shape further solidifies the overall rigidity of it, again, playing up to the strength factor. Housing it inside that shape helps it stand alone on its own and gives it a little bit more authority. It’s not just two disconnected pieces of icon and text floating in space. All in all, I think we nailed it.”

Lessons Learned & Advice for Other Designers

Looking back, Justin appreciates all that he learned throughout the process and is thankful for the massive opportunity. “When I was at the agency, we worked on super tight deadlines and as a result, I had to find the best idea I could, as fast as I could, and run with it. Whereas with this project, I could take my time, dig in, and explore a little bit more,” he says. “I definitely relearned to leave no stone unturned and to never be afraid of failure. When rebranding, there’s no rabbit hole that’s not worth exploring because you never know where that’s going to lead you.”

“Also, unexpected things can happen like uncovering the Turkish gas station, which encourages you to dig a little deeper and look for something else. Going back to the drawing board definitely informed some of the certain design decisions we’ve landed on now,” continues Jackson. “Although we felt pretty strong about that first design, I love the one we landed on. I’ll stand behind this thing and will fight for it tooth and nail. I put a lot of care into this and did a lot of research. I think our current design is miles ahead of where we were.”

SUPPLY.com Logos GIF

The evolution of the SUPPLY.com logo

For other designers undertaking a colossal rebranding project, Jackson offered three pieces of advice:

  • Do your research. Gather as much information as you can. Be a sponge. Being able to ask the founders face to face and get their in-depth input was a privilege. Look at where the trends are heading without being overly trendy. Look at it from every which way. Thinking of it in every kind of setting. What does it look like upside down? What does it look like on a shirt? What does it look like from far away? Keep a higher perspective as to where it’s going to go.”
  • When you’re rebranding, you need to future proof it a little bit. You have to think ahead about, ‘What are the business cards going to look like? What are the web fonts that are going to be used?’ Once we landed on the final logo, we were able to run with the other stuff, but there was this nice building block process along the way to think of those other things as well.”
  • Don’t fear simplicity because sometimes the simplest answer is the best one.”

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