Evolution of the Gated Brand

The Gated Team
October 13, 2022

In Fall of 2022, the Gated team decided to make an initial upgrade in our brand look and feel, in order to better align with our growing maturity as a brand and our vision for the future.  CMO Melissa Moody and Lead Designer Atefeh Fereidounpour share some insights into the evolution and reveal what we learned along the way.

How do you know it’s time to upgrade your brand?

Often, a new product is brought to market just as a tool, a point solution to solve a single problem without a full understanding of its place in the landscape, the category.  Gated was somewhat unique in that the product was ideated and improved over a period of 2 years by Founder Andy Mowat and a group of alpha users.  In that time, major strides were made in understanding the marketer, the vision, and the guiding principles of Gated.

With those foundational pieces in place, you can have the confidence to build and grow the look and the feel of the brand to match.  So by 2022, our team felt that we had a few things in place that would make a brand evolution successful:

  • We know who we are and what we stand for. Our manifesto is a clear statement of our overarching goals as a company.
  • We have our early team in place so our values as a team (Focus, Connection, Curiosity) that are fostered in our internal culture can now also be infused into our external brand.  (We also have the team talent to execute a brand refresh, which is no small task.)
  • We have the system and commitment to listen to our customers.  Early exercises in brand design were built upon the feedback of our close customers. Additionally, our powerful testimonial engine and UX team keep us up-to-the-minute on customer sentiment about our product and our vision.

How do you conduct a brand refresh when you’re small and don’t have much budget or bandwidth?

As a startup, we spend our time and dollars very thoughtfully and only on mission-critical projects.  And so, of course, the beginnings of our brand work were done in a scrappy way - even before we had a Designer.  Here’s what worked at that stage, to build the foundation for our current work:

  • Enjoy the basics. For a while, we lived with a color scheme that our founders picked by hand and a logo designed by an Upworker.  And guess what? People liked them.  They weren’t perfect. They might have only earned a ‘B’ on the report card. But they did the job.
  • Stay simple. If you don’t spend too much time on graphics early, you won’t feel that wasted time later on; because everyone is going to refresh the brand later on, when you’ve learned more.  Twice, our team did this - meeting with graphic designers and illustrators - to imagine a bigger, fancier brand.  Only to realize that… it wasn’t time yet.  Instead?  Just start keeping a Pinterest board/swipe file/mood board so you’ll always be able to save inspiration that you find to infuse your work later on.
  • Focus on words first.  Language is faster to iterate on and somewhat less subjective when it comes to “what works”.  Before spinning your wheels on the visual design of your brand, begin with the language design of your brand.  Creating a basic style guide can help your entire team start to understand the vocabulary and tone of your brand. And those elements are going to extend from your social presence all the way into product features.  Our favorite part of the style guide? The “What We Say/What We DON’T Say” guidelines.

Why did we decide to invest in our brand look and feel?

Once we launched our first product in April 2022, it was clear that a key pillar of user adoption would be a trust in the brand itself.  Gated needed to prove that we are a respectable, human-first company - not some off-the-street scam.  Especially for those who trust us with the protection of their email inboxes (and attention), it’s critical to show that we are consistent and mature in the product experience we provide.  That means having a more buttoned-up look and feel for the brand as well.

Additionally, the Gated team is constantly keeping our broader vision in mind.  Our new logo was designed to showcase what we do in email, but also the bigger concept of protecting people’s attention - no matter where they are.  It was time to elevate our brand beyond a single platform, in the minds of our customers.

In summer 2022, Gated hired our Lead Designer Atefeh Fereidounpour to lead our UI/UX efforts and her expertise proved valuable in the initial revisions of our external brand as well.  Below is a peek into her intent with the fresh brand look you’ll notice for Gated.

Let’s Talk Logo

As mentioned above, as Gated is growing, our audience's expectations grow as well.  Our entire team is committed to making Gated a constantly-better product and addressing the great need for focus in the world around us.  We felt our logo should reflect that as well.

Gated exists to put an end to the unlimited flood of digital communication that makes us all frustrated. Our updated logo reflects this aspirational state of peace in your inbox, in your personal state of mind.

Early on, one of our brand advisors shared the thought: “Your logo should either be so complex that no one can recreate it… or so simple that anyone can.”  As you can see, we chose to stick with simplicity and focus - the core of our brand and our solution.

The logo is representative of a technological form because Gated is built on a foundation of technology and data.  However, the shape also includes distinctly organic elements because, at the end of the day, it is a focus on the real-world human experience that defines our efforts.

The square was chosen as a symbol of protection and stability.  It’s rotation, to be more of a diamond, brings in an element of motion and evolution.  The blue dot might be seen to represent a message that stands out as worthy of your attention in some way, something worth focusing on.  And the open part of the square indicates that we are always open to new information that might come into, and improve, our personal area of focus.   If you look closely, you might also see the shape of a G, hinted in the form itself.

Our colors were chosen for their organic vibe and peaceful tones - as well as their distinctiveness from other companies in the email space.

What’s next?

Threre is always more design work to be done. Stay tuned to see what Atefeh and the Gated team will do next in our evolution of a brand that is known and loved for its simplicity and focus.