Behind the scenes of our 2018 rebrand

CEO of Wave, Kirk Simpon, explaining Wave's rebrand

We had an important realization earlier this year: Our brand got us to where we are today, but we’ve grown and evolved so much that we need a more dynamic way to represent ourselves. And that’s why we set out to tackle one of the most exciting and challenging milestones Wave has ever achieved: a rebrand.

We wanted to share a bit about that journey, revealing exactly what it takes to rethink how you show up to the world—and how to bring that vision to life.  

Our purpose: bigger than accounting software

Before we could even consider the creative side of our rebrand, we found focus in clearly defining our purpose:

Wave helps brave entrepreneurs simplify their financial lives to build stronger, more professional, and more sustainable businesses.

How did we get there? By internalizing what we know to be true for our customers—that the financial side of running a small business is changing, and there’s a huge, stressful learning curve.

We were already designing our products and services to empower our customers and make their lives easier. Now we just needed our brand to convey that empathy and our view that there’s power in understanding your finances. Wave helps drive these amazing ‘eureka’ moments, like finally mastering cash flow or feeling prepared at year end. We wanted business owners to look at their finances differently—and we wanted them to feel that empowerment through our brand.

Is that an aspirational goal? You bet! But, then again, so is building a business from the ground up—something brave entrepreneurs do every day.

Our inspiration: brave entrepreneurs

Getting clear on our purpose helped carve a path for the first step of our rebrand journey—gathering inspiration. We interviewed customers, compiled insights, and did tons of research. We pulled all these ideas together, papering a room with inspiring concepts.  

We tapped into the wisdom of small business owners to understand the challenges and emotions they face. We explored different creative approaches and human truths around being an entrepreneur, from being part of a tribe to taking the road less traveled to finding your productivity ‘flow’.

A lot of what we learned hit close to home. After all, Wave started with five people crowded around a fold-out table, and 55% of Wavers have freelanced or owned side businesses at some point in their careers. Stepping out of our comfort zones, wearing multiple hats, and achieving the impossible—like our customers do—is part of our culture.

All of this came together, and after several rounds of conversations we landed on a concept that would become our new entrepreneur-centric brand essence.

Our essence: believe

Wave’s new brand essence isn’t really new. It’s something that’s always been there intuitively guiding our decisions, behaviours, and growth. The rebrand exercise helped us articulate it, feel it, and bring it to the core of everything we do:

We believe in brave entrepreneurs.

We believe in our customers so much that we built our own ambitious goals on propelling their success. Not only do we believe in the path small business owners have chosen, we also know that building their confidence is at the core of overcoming self-doubt.  

This sense of belief is a powerful, driving force for achieving success. It pushes out feelings of fear. It summons energy through exhaustion. It fuels ingenuity when problems arise. And, most importantly, it drowns out the sound of those who don’t believe.

Our team rallied around this new brand essence and got to work figuring out how to express it creatively, and also how to live it through our culture.

Our brand pillars: empowering, inspiring and supporting

Whether you’re an engineer, a designer, an accountant, a risk analyst, or a customer support hero at Wave, we wanted everyone to live that ‘believe’ idea and empathize with our customers. We introduced three brand pillars—empower, inspire, and support—and challenged each Waver to live them out in their own role.

  • Empower: Design and build easy and intuitive tools that help customers gain the insights needed to make better decisions.
  • Inspire: Acknowledge and celebrate entrepreneurs’ wins and milestones by creating and sharing stories and inspiring content.
  • Support: Surround them with a community of like-minded entrepreneurs and Wave support heroes who can give helpful information and guidance as they tackle the day-to-day tasks of running a business.

Our new brand guidelines explicitly state that every interaction (large or small, digital or direct) is an opportunity to empower, inspire, and support our customers. This is one of the key changes we wanted to be felt with the rebrand.

Our logo: a new Wave

We worked with one of our talented customers, a freelance art director, to explore different aspects of what the name ‘Wave’ represents in order to arrive at a new logo that would capture the essence of our brand.

Our existing icon mark was a barreling wave, and while it was balanced and symmetrical, we could see how it brings to mind a spinning, crashing wave. This doesn’t reflect the concept of ‘believe,’ so we began exploring alternatives that would do it better.

After dozens of options, we settled on a stylized letter ‘w’ that represents a cresting wave. Rather than crashing down, it’s focused on the moment where momentum is building. At the same time, the three lines of the ‘w’ resemble a graph showing financial growth. Together the new logo embodies the idea of simplified finances, growth, and power in a positive, upward motion. Our wordmark was also refreshed with a clean, humanist look.

 

Design system: bringing it all together

To support our new brand, our design team has defined and brought new design standards to life. Our new look is about being approachable yet modern; crisp but not stuffy.

Palette: bold and confident. We’ve moved toward rich, vibrant colors with a clean, fresh vibe. On our website we’re using rich gradients and pops of color in graphics. Wave’s application interface has also been refreshed for a lighter feel.  

Typography: distinct and approachable. We’ve updated our typography to be bolder and have more personality with the geometric Averta font. It’s full letter forms give it a strong presence, but it’s roundness keeps it open and accessible.

Photography: featuring our own customers. It was important for us to show real Wave customers in some of our marketing and website photos. When we use stock photos, we treat them with custom illustrations and graphics, creating a unique feel.

Illustrations: inclusive and descriptive. Our new design system uses illustrations and graphical touches liberally for a more approachable feel. They help paint a picture of small business owner’s lives and add warmth.

 

Looking to the future

We went through this rebrand journey to create an experience that looks, sounds, and feels empowering, inspiring and supportive to brave entrepreneurs. One amazing side effect is how it’s reminded everyone at Wave why we get out of bed in the morning—trust us, there’s a serious buzz at headquarters!  

We’re excited to launch our new brand, but this is definitely not the end. We’ll continue to evolve and grow so that we can keep building products and services that help small business owners be their best. We believe in them, and we’re honored and excited to be part of their success stories.

 

Categories:   Wave news
Grace Marquez
By Grace Marquez
Disclaimer

The information and tips shared on this blog are meant to be used as learning and personal development tools as you launch, run and grow your business. While a good place to start, these articles should not take the place of personalized advice from professionals. As our lawyers would say: “All content on Wave’s blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.” Additionally, Wave is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and others cannot re-use or publish it without our written consent.