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Rebranding Typeform: finding the real us

How we created a “people first” brand—starting with a long, hard look in the mirror.

From the day I joined Typeform, I felt a disconnect between our brand and the spirit of the company.

Our identity was a Frankenstein of values and feelings we’d accumulated along the way. It contained lots of good ideas, but we never had a strategy behind it.

The tagline was “Make things a little more human”—something we felt strongly about, but was too ambiguous to be our guiding light.

We wanted a vision that was more specific, a clear message that wouldn’t easily fall victim to interpretation.

So we began a search for the core of our identity.

Who are we?

At first, we thought we could figure this out in-house. Surely we knew ourselves better than anyone?

So we spent time trying to understand what being “human” meant to us, and how to represent it through design. We learned about the Renaissance, pondered written music, and even played around with Japanese Kanji.

It was an interesting exercise. But soon we realized that to really get to know ourself, we needed someone else to hold up the mirror. It was time to call in the experts.

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We wanted a branding studio that had experience with tech companies. One constant reference point for us was the power and simplicity of Airbnb’s rebrand. So we thought: “Why don’t we just call the people who did that?”

That’s how we met DesignStudio. And after a two-hour conversation about identity, purpose, and UFOs, we fell in love with each other.

They understood branding the way we do:

Branding is a set of written and visual tools to express a company’s personality and project a unique vision.

So how long does it take? Some people say you can rebrand in 6-8 weeks. DesignStudio said it would take around 3-5 months.

It ended up taking almost a year.

That was lesson one: rebranding takes time.

Not just because it’s so vital to a business. But because you’re asking questions that don’t have easy answers. Scary questions like “Why are we doing this?” and “What do we believe in?” Not the kind of stuff you chat about over a coffee at Barception.

Because if you really want to get to the core of your business, you need to spend time talking with lots of different people, both friends and strangers, about how they perceive you.

Here’s where we turned for some deep conversation.

Crafting a brand message

To develop an authentic brand proposition, understand what moves your business, and why people connect with it.
Alex Antolino, Creative Director at Typeform

We started with employee workshops, 1-on-1 interviews with key stakeholders, and focus groups with customers.

And we kept asking: What’s this business about? What do you use Typeform for? What makes you stick around?

The first suggestion was “understand more”—Typeform helps its users to understand their audiences better.

It made sense. But something important was missing.

James says hello at a DesignStudio rebranding session.

By listening to our customers, we realized that people often refer to Typeform with words like “love, fun, beautiful.” That’s some pretty emotional vocab for a data collection tool, right?

And then we realized that the same feelings people use to describe the product are baked into our company culture.

Our CoCEOs, David and Robert, are passionate about building a work environment where people feel comfortable and free. They’ve always worked to make Typeform about empathy—from the product, to how we communicate, to the way we hire.

It’s not just us. Read how empathy is driving the new leadership model.

So Typeform is about more than just data or knowledge. Yes, our community uses Typeform to get data, to improve their business, to understand more.

But what makes our product stand out is the emotional connection it allows our users to create with their people. Because when you need to know something, how you ask is everything.

This clarified our company vision:

In business, we thrive when we care about each other. It all starts by getting to really know someone.
Typeform's vision

“Really know people” became our brand proposition. When you want to really know someone, you listen, you empathize, you open up—and by doing so, others feel safe to do the same.

We boiled this down to two simple words: People first.

Designing a “people first” identity

We wanted to create a vibrant brand that was alive and connected to real people. So DesignStudio spent a few days developing visuals to express what it means to “really know people.”

One idea was to express emotion through the movement of a line. The shape and color of the line could reflect people’s energy and emotional state. I called it the “empathy line.” There was even a whole alphabet invented to go with it.

The second concept represented people as a series of layers. To really get to know someone, you’ve got to peel back those layers, one conversation at a time. We were inspired by James Turrell’s spaces to depict this visually.

After both options were presented, the team decided that the empathy line was the more organic step for us. Its simplicity and clarity matched the brand and product we already knew.

There was just one complication: I was home sick that day.

When I heard the decision, I understood why they’d gone for the empathy line—it was more familiar, it was safer.

But there was something powerful about the layers proposal. It was bold, warm, unique—and more “human.”

The way those layers were represented so organically reminded me of Miró, a Catalan artist. Miró, along with Picasso, seemed like perfect sources of inspiration—both painters had a strong connection with Barcelona, where Typeform was born.

Yes, it was really different than what we were used to, and probably unexpected for a SaaS company. But that only made it more alluring.

So I pushed back.

As a creative or storyteller, you look for concepts that challenge you. What’s obvious is easily forgotten. What challenges you will live on.

It took some convincing, but we eventually decided to head into the riskier, more uncertain depths of the layers. It was a decisive moment.

But there was a problem. How does data collection fit into all this?

Balancing the emotional and rational

Typeform’s secret sauce has always been a healthy mix of the rational and the emotional: data collection + conversation. We’d spent a lot of time making the brand emotional, but now we needed to pull it back towards the rational.

So I thought it would be a good idea for our product designers to work with DesignStudio, to create some synergy between brand and product.

We started with the rings—the main visual element of our layers concept. The rings represent people. They breathe, they’re alive. Remember Shrek? Humans are like onions too.

I asked different people around the company what the rings made them think about. I got everything from tree rings, to topographic lines, to the Zen Ensō Circle.

This blend of artistic and scientific associations showed that the rings could be interpreted in both a rational and emotional way. It seemed like a powerful contrast.

Then it hit me: what looks soft, imperfect, and emotional from one side, could also look structured, precise and rational from a different perspective.

With just a little twist, these layered rings could express both the emotional and the rational. We’d found balance. Eureka!

Expressing our new identity

With our core revealed, it didn’t long to polish the surface. A couple weeks later, DesignStudio was back in Barcelona to present the new Typeform identity.

It included a new logo—a simple ring that organically takes shape to reflect people’s constant flux.

The idea of layers is applied through collages. Photography, animation, colors, lines, and words are interwoven to represent the layers of human beings. These aren’t just random designs—details matter.

And we swapped out the paint cans. Our old brand had a fixed color palette. In the new scheme, people bring color to the brand.

We had found the real us. And we were ready to share it with you. Well, kinda.

After spending six months creating the brand, we only had three months to implement it for the launch of the new Typeform. To be honest, it wasn’t enough time—with a bit more planning, it could’ve had a bigger impact.

But nothing’s perfect. And we’re proud of the direction we’re heading. This is just the beginning.

There was just one thing left to do: retire our beloved mascot, Beardyman. It was an emotional moment for all of us when he phoned in his goodbye at our internal brand presentation:

Shit it’s been a while. I’ve watched you grow up… I remember when you dressed me up as a pirate… Stay cool. Stay humble.
Beardyman, Typeform's retired mascot

We like to think he’s off sipping piña coladas in the land of retired mascots with Zendesk’s Buddha and Microsoft’s Clippy. His job to speak on behalf our company was done. We’ll take it from here.

Building a brand to last

Are we sure the new Typeform will be around for a while? Well, we hope so.

Reflecting back on the long rebranding process, here’s a few things we’ve learned:

  • Trust your intuition. A brand is a marketing tool to position your product, but also an emotional way to connect with your audience. Never underestimate your feelings.

  • Involve everyone. Employees are the ones who bring your brand to life—they’re your most important audience. Make them feel involved and listen to their concerns. Great ideas can come from the most unexpected people.

  • Leave time to implement. The rebrand you initially deliver is just a bunch of proposals and good intentions. It’s when you start to implement that you see what works, and what doesn’t. Plan properly and allow room for experimentation.

  • Decide and commit. Rebranding is a big and emotional decision, especially for founders. But a brand is never going to be perfect, so at some point you must commit and go all in.

Have we done all these things right? Probably not.

But we’ve tried our best to dive deep into our company’s culture to discover our true identity.

We hope you like it.

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