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B2B Branding: 5 tips to go from boring to extraordinary

Rebranding a B2B? Our friends at Deel stopped by to share five tips that will help take your brand from boring to extraordinary.

Navigating a rebrand or “refresh,” as some might call it, is quite the undertaking, especially if being done over two short months.

At Deel, we overhauled our brand from UX to social to create an updated, fun, and approachable feel that says, “Hey, international payroll can be fun. See!”

Below are a few things we learned, tips, and honest opinions to consider when refreshing your brand and making [insert tedious topic] as fun as it can be.

✏️ A big thanks to our friends at Deel for writing and sponsoring this blog post!

1. Too quirky, too cold, just right

Figuring out what you want your brand to be can be a painstaking process. Chances are you at least have a starting point (what you’re already working with) and what you like (inspiration from around the web and world). Also, it’s probably obvious what’s not working and what could be better. We knew we needed a warmer palette, a more approachable logo and typeface, and elements that seamlessly worked together across different touchpoints.

It’s important to brainstorm, make a mood board, and bring in different perspectives because chances are others see what you can’t. We’re not saying have too many cooks in the kitchen, but more sous chefs who you value on the subject matter at hand.

If you're having second thoughts, that's good. It means you're onto something.

Playful and fun can quickly come off as childish and unprofessional. Depending on what your business does lends a lot of guidance to what boundaries you can push. For instance, being a bank or handling people’s money means trust, integrity, and the peace of mind that your business has everything under control. Your design should support that, not undermine it.

That by no means means “boring” or “ordinary.” You always have room to push boundaries and make things better. If you’re having second thoughts, that’s good. It means you’re onto something. And worst case, a gut check from the rest of the team will help you iterate, make things better, or decide if it’s back to the drawing board.

2. It’s the little things

Simple things you can add to your brand or incorporate are super important. We’re all familiar with the iconic Google Doodle. They’ve created a space in their brand that lends itself to countless variations and unique creative takes while still keeping the integrity of the brand top of mind.

When we decided on our logo (it took some time, see above), we noticed the small but impactful ability the dot had to lend itself to announcements, holidays, and other fun things. It may be small, but it does a lot. For instance, when we announced our Series C, St. Patrick’s Day, and in our brand video, we could leverage the dot as an integral part of our brand to help add character in a small but mighty way.

We’re not saying every logo or brand needs a dot they can adapt. However, chances are there’s a way you can work in fun, surprising, and delightful moments that help you communicate across platforms.

3. Don’t make your customers read between the lines

We all have our feelings about Comic Sans, so at least we can start there. Selecting and implementing the right font means testing it across all places a customer may encounter it. Before, our font was bland, had no character, and made reading blocks of texts feel like a novel, not a blog post.

We landed on a practical combination of Silka and Inter. Inter we use for writing numbers and Silka for everything else. Both work seamlessly across marketing and UX for legibility and cohesion.

Selecting and implementing the right font means testing it across all places a customer may encounter it.

Selecting a font can help your brand add a lot of character (pun totally intended). After all, anytime someone reads something your brand puts out, it’s another way to accentuate brand elements even more.

So figure out your text hierarchy, decide on some options, and test them out. Also, this is indeed the time and place to solicit feedback from more people. Get all the cooks in the kitchen for this one, and if someone has a hard time with the font, there’s a good chance a lot of other people will too.

4. Illustrations aren’t a marriage

Not all designers are illustrators, and that’s okay. Honing in an illustration style can take months. For instance, when we initially launched our refresh, our icons were the closest thing we had to illustrations. Since we’ve onboarded a visual designer, we’ve been hard at work creating and testing new things to put into the wild.

Illustration commitment issues are a thing, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. We’ve started to incorporate elements of illustration into product emails, banner updates, and social content. The thing that remains constant is that we stick to our brand colors and palette.

Not having illustrations as elements within our website is something we’re actively incorporating (like right now). No rule or law says you can’t try new things or that you’re locked into an illustration style forever. However, the one thing to keep in mind is, “Does this cause more confusion than interest?” If things are getting muddled and there’s a chance people may not know who or where it’s coming from, there may be a more significant issue to confront.

Illustrations are a great way to break up monotonous things, show launches in a new light, and bring an added sense of depth to something that may be a little on the dry side. Whether it’s your palette, font, or another signature element, find what works for your brand and carry it through.

5. Leave room to adapt

Perhaps one of the most important elements, which also connects to the whole “illustration is not a marriage” aspect, is to be ready for and willing to adjust and sometimes break your own rules.

We’re still very much in the stage of building the outward presence of our brand. It’s not something that happens overnight, and we’re aware of that. As the team grows and we add more creative thinkers, the brand continues to change (for the better) to achieve a more cohesive presence across all our touchpoints.

For instance, when we initially did our refresh, we completely overhauled the site. Now that we’ve onboarded a visual designer with web, layout, and UX expertise, we’ve gone back to our initial designs to adapt elements and make a more user-friendly experience.

Keeping up with the times, competitors, and changing digital landscape can take its toll. Good design and a better brand find what they do well, make it better, and are ready to change what’s not working in an instant.

Remember: Don’t be afraid to change (and be a little out there) when warranted.

About the author: Tyler Bradley is the Senior Copywriter at Deel, the platform built to help businesses hire and pay anyone in the world. He’s spent time working in music, social, tech, and the proud owner (owned by) a Chow Chow named Mr. Papagiorgio. He lives in Miami and is probably sweating somewhere right now.

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