15Five is a human-centered people and performance management platform dedicated to supporting employees and managers to be their best selves through software, education, and community.
However, as more competitors entered the space, 15Five needed to establish themselves as a holistic solution for modern workplaces elevated beyond its industry category.
The future 15Five brand re-establishes it among its competitors, retains its innovative edge while reflecting its mission, and personifies its distinguished character.
As much as 15Five cares about offering the best-in-class software platform, it cares equally about the transformation it sparks for workplaces. The founders used their philosophies internally first, creating a personal connection to their methodologies. 15Five approached Focus Lab to help them develop a "a brand that feels as human-centric and mission-driven as our people." 15Five’s products are an output of a deeply rooted brand philosophy of self-growth and discovery, where the individual success of every employee is the collective success of every organization.
We set out to help 15Five create a verbal and visual identity that aligned with its vision to unlock the potential of every member of the global workforce.
We worked with the 15Five team to create a brand identity system that would distinguish their unique industry category of a holistic, philosophic, and human-focused platform, while differentiating them from competitors in the people management landscape. 15Five is one of the most tenured brands in the space. They've seen how much work and workplaces have changed over the years, which has guided their methodology and prepared them for the future.
We also identified an opportunity for the brand to breed camaraderie with like-minded companies through its Best-Self philosophy while drawing upon its history, wisdom, and innovation. 15Five identified their three brand characteristics as trusted, progressive, and charming. 15Five is reliable but innovative; approachable but inspiring.
15Five is independent-minded and curious; we needed that reflected in its brand voice. We began by categorizing industry competitor voices into three buckets: The Capable Leader, The Upbeat Empath, and The Authority Figure. By understanding the landscape, we identified the perfect voice for 15Five to stand out among its competition and align with its mission. We also seized on a missed opportunity in the voice landscape: sounding inspired and innovative.
The 15Five voice is The Leading Innovator. 15Five makes it fun and accessible to move forward — to elevate, improve, and unlock potential. Far from being complex or arcane, this voice expresses the simplicity of 15Five’s platform and its adaptable, approachable nature.
In addition to voice and tone, we worked with the team at 15Five on their core messaging framework, nomenclature, brand story, and more.
The Brand Story originated from the positioning and verbal work, taking form at the end of the project. For 15Five, we styled it as a Manifesto, declaring the company’s vision and aims to the world.
The 15Five logo came together from two different concepts.
The mark was inspired by Best Self, an idea at the core of 15Five and its ethos. 15Five believes in not only bringing your best self to work, but striving to be your best self at work. Its modern, best-in-class software platform is dedicated to helping people and teams reach new heights of success. Ultimately, the mark was named The Smirk.
The Smirk symbolizes people, the heart of 15Five. It is a collection of individuals, a single wave. Never static; energetic and always in motion. It is charming, trusted, and progressive.
The wordmark stemmed from the idea of a union. 15Five is all about relationships — individuals coming together to grow and assist one another. We represented 15Five through the lens of relationships through a typographic ligature (when two letters are joined into a single glyph). Ligatures are frequently utilized to help with spacing and legibility, particularly when letters may run into each other. The letters "f" and "i" lend themselves to a ligature, and it results in a simple expression of coming together: the union of two parts to create a new whole.
We frequently reference brand strategy and brand attributes when building out the visual language. The visual language helps establish a holistic brand that feels trusted, progressive, and charming at each touchpoint. 15Five’s visual language is led by illustration, which helps communicate narratives and complex ideas. They also add levity and charm when necessary. We provided guidelines and art direction for the illustration style, which was further built upon by illustrator Camellia Neri.
Typography: 15Five's brand typography pairs the friendly Cornbread Honey with Phantom Sans for a type system that aligned with our brand strategy.
Cornbread Honey is a period piece, a synthesis of thin, typewriter-style typography and the thicker strokes of Oswald Cooper’s eponymous Cooper Black. But Cornbread Honey is something different, entirely unique. Its soft, thick stems set beautiful headlines with warmth and humanity. Cornbread Honey is nib-weighted, showing the hand behind the calligraphic history. It bestows the very brand attributes of trusted, progressive, and charming.
Meanwhile, Phantom Sans infuses warmth and originality in the crowded genre of geometric sans. It blends the familiar with the unique for a distinct typographic visual tone.
Confetti: We made a set of brushes based on the Smirk mark to create a sense of celebration. The confetti can be animated as a celebration state or used to communicate positivity. Confetti is progressive and charming, but used sparingly to maintain ‘trusted’ as a key brand attribute.
High-fidelity wireframes allow us to make structural and user experience recommendations earlier on in the process, starting important conversations before diving into visual design. For 15Five, we wanted to make sure the site was future-proof and ready for new product additions and growth, while visually communicating the complete ecosystem the 15Five platform offers.
We utilized 15Five's illustrations throughout the site to carry the brand through the website experience. Spot illustrations offered a great way to communicate abstract concepts visually, but still maintained charm.
A rebrand is a significant undertaking for a company. After the identity is finalized and a new website is underway, there's dozens of other assets to be updated: presentation templates, display ads, social media banners, employee handbooks, email signatures, office signage, etc. Through our brand support service, we helped the 15Five team roll out their rebrand quickly and successfully.
We couldn't have done it without you, Focus Lab. You have been such an incredible partner over the past 12 months. Thank you to all of the amazing team who worked with us!Holly Kennedy, VP of Design, 15Five