Hawaii Information Consortium
What if a company that had enjoyed an exclusive contract for twenty years, white-labeling web and mobile apps for state government, suddenly had to compete for its business? How do you brand a company that is supposed to work quietly behind the scenes, a company that’s supposed to be invisible?
That what if actually happened in 2018 to the company I was working for. The company’s long-standing and exclusive state contract was expiring and other companies wanted our business. While our situation was precarious, it wasn’t my job to think about such things: I was busy building websites, researching accessibility tools, and preparing proposals for project meetings.
A few of us creatives, however, could see that our company’s lack of a strong brand would make it hard to compete in this changing space. I saw this as an opportunity to help my company finally articulate its identity.
I think management also knew we had a branding problem but underestimated the value of good branding especially in a newly competitive space. It became clear to me that to get buy-in and the resources I needed to re-design the brand, I first needed to convince them that rebranding the company was necessary.
You know how we are told to not compare ourselves to others lest we focus on our flaws? Well that’s actually a pretty good place to start when building a case for design. When I put our current branding up against our competition, management could see our shortcomings: our logo was outdated, our colors were inconsistent, and our content was sending the wrong message to the wrong people. Embarrassment tipped the scales in my favor. And that was pretty much it. After I lightly explained how we would implement a re-brand, management gave me the resources I needed.
My team inserted us into company conversations about our marketing strategy. And, after interviewing everyone from upper management to new employees, we realized that everyone had different ideas about what our company was and what it should be. With no shared company identity how could our brand emerge? So we asked more appropriate questions: Who are we in relation to the state-branded service we ran, eHawaii.gov? What do we want people to think of when they think about our company? What makes our company different from others, do we employ special strategies?
My team’s collaboration uncovered our shared values. We were the people behind the scenes but we still needed to be seen. We were both a tech and a relationship company. Unlike our competitors, we had nurtured good, long-lasting partnerships with our clients.. And unlike mainland corporations, we were a family-sized , local company.
Designing the logo
Now that we knew who we were, we could design a brand that would tell our story. We started with the logo. The new logo says what the company is, “the people behind eHawaii.gov” and we expressed our brand values as colors in an artistic, abstract way using color psychology.
Blue represents Technology. Blue evokes the emotional act of trust. It helps convey that security is an integral part of the company.
Yellow represents Partnership. Yellow is the color of friendship, enthusiasm, optimism, and happiness. Yellow shows that partnering with the company will make for a bright future together.
When we combine blue and yellow, we get green, which represents Solutions — which is cool because the company combines technology and partnership in their strategy to create solutions for their partners. Green evokes health, well-being, and upward growth..
Designed to tell the story
We created a website that tells the story — in a fun and engaging way — of a company dedicated to its values for the past 20 years. The interior pages focus on the vast portfolio of work, organized categorically, and a specially-curated page of capabilities that illustrate the company’s business and technological prowess and experience.
I collaborated with project managers, backend developers, upper management, and many other stakeholders in pretty much every role in the company to bring forward the elements important to our government clients in a B2B fashion (or B2G if you will). The most important steps were designing the information architecture and then creating wireframes to iterate upon how the information is displayed to have the best user experience.
The website UI was designed using fluid-to-mobile layouts, focusing mainly on larger screens but not neglecting mobile users. The navigation menu was inspired by Awwwards’ menu because we really loved how everything else darkens and the menu becomes the focus in an elegant way creating singular focus but still easy to dismiss with a click.
This website is still live and in almost the same state as the day it was launched with the exception of the NIC Hawaii lettering replacing the original. The website redesign also won 3 awards: 2019 Davey Award for Government Websites, W3 Silver Winner, and Communicator Award of Distinction.
This rebranding and website project turned out to be a huge success for HIC. We ended up beating out our competitors to win a new exclusive state contract. It not only revitalized the company’s visual identity so that it could better compete in a changing market but also boosted the morale of the people working there because (everyone loved the look and feel and was proud to be a part of it). This project was also a huge professional success for me. I was able to brand a company that had struggled with its identity for years by putting my creativity and design process to work.
Work for the State of Hawaii government
While working for HIC, I also led the successful design and development of many websites and eGovernment service apps for the State of Hawaii government. Here are a few of the websites I worked on: