Categories
Culture

Building For the Future – Creatopy’s New Passive Home

7 minutes read

This is the story of our brand-new office building. Apart from the fact that it’s the home of the Creatopy team, it’s also an impressive facility. 

Why is that? 

Because we built it extraordinarily. 

Summary:

1. How Our Office Building Came to Life

2. Stating the Facts on Creatopy’s New Sustainable Home

3. Why Build a Low-Energy Office Building?

4. The Passive House Principle (Passivhaus Standard) and CLT

5. What the Future Holds

6. The Team Behind the Project

Since sustainability is a principle we strongly believe in, we decided to build a passive building for our office, made entirely of wood, using cross-laminated timber.

The end result is a low-energy building with a reduced ecological footprint and a beautiful design that integrates perfectly in the surrounding hills-dominated landscape:

 

1. How Our Office Building Came to Life 

We started thinking about creating a new office space back in 2019 when it turned out that our then-building could no longer house our team, which expanded exponentially. We needed a new home, so when initiating this project, we had deep consideration of the impact on the environment the average office building leaves.

That’s why a wooden construction was the obvious choice for us—more specifically, a cross-laminated timber building. We strongly believe that the fight against climate change should be on everyone’s agenda in today’s reality. 

Buildings have an undeniably strong impact on the environment, as almost 40% of energy-and process-related emissions come from buildings. According to recent studies, more than a third of total energy and CO2 emissions result directly from the way the building sector works in developed and developing nations.

Needless to say, buildings play a huge role in decreasing the inhabitants’ quality of life, and poor building design and lack of sustainability consideration in urbanization are issues that we are all facing; that’s why we all need to start building for the future.  

However, the good news is that there are several international initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions in the building industry, such as the recently implemented NZEB (nearly zero energy buildings) legislation in the European Union. Among the proposed action plans are to restrict energy use, adopt low carbon technologies, conduct impact assessments and impose new global standards and policies to harness environmental consciousness.  

Our CEO and Founder, Gabriel Ciordas, is fascinated with CLT constructions and the technology behind them: this was the starting point of our new office building journey.

”I knew I wanted to create an office building made of wood, using cross-laminated timber, that would first and foremost be environmentally friendly; I also had my team’s wellbeing in mind, because I think it’s one of the healthiest offices you can possibly work in.”

— Gabriel Ciordas, Founder & CEO at Creatopy

He and the building-to-be project manager reached out to an innovative engineer, who was in charge of several similar constructions and invited him over for consultations. That’s how we learned all there was to know about passive buildings and the vast benefits they convey. Therefore, the project started to come to fruition. 

Soon after, our team reached out to a local architect team and told them about their dream of making a sustainable building the home of Creatopy. Next, the architects rose to the challenge, and after conducting various internal surveys with some of our team members, they came up with a complex design that integrated perfectly into the hills-dominated landscape while adjusting to our particular needs and specifications.  

“Our building is developed on three platforms, the level differences being a natural response to the slope of the land which justifies our minimal intervention on the land, a non-invasive approach that helps animate and revitalizes the building both inside and outside.”

— Ar. Mădălina Mihălceanu, Vertical Studio    

2. Stating the Facts on Creatopy’s New Sustainable Home 

  • It’s the largest CLT (Cross-Laminated Timber), and the only Low-Energy certified office building in Romania and Eastern Europe; it measures nearly 2,400 square meters.
  • It consumes seven times less energy than a similar building made of bricks and concrete. 
  • It is powered by electricity, and by using this type of energy source, we save up to 12 tons of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere each year, just to be heated in the cold season. 
  • The foundation contains more than 2,000 cubic meters of recycled foam glass.
  • We saved 1600 kg of Carbon dioxide per cubic meter by using a wood structure instead of a frame made of concrete and brickwork, which leads to a total of 1424 tons of Carbon dioxide saved in the entire building process.   
  • In total, we used 890 cubic meters of wood, which translates into 490 full-grown trees—fir and spruce—which means 1,96 trees per user: the building can host up to 250 people. 
  • The CLT structure comprises 819 prefab panels made in Austria, with widths from 120 mm to 280 mm, designed to the smallest detail on a computer. The entire duration of these panes’ production was four days; they were transported to Romania in 25 trucks.
  • The design of the building started in March 2019; execution began in July 2019. 
  • The assemblage of the CLT structure was done in 44 days, using a team of ten people, and the entire building, from start to finish, was ready in less than one year—that’s 2.5 faster than a regular building.  

3. Why Build a Low-Energy Office Building?

To build a wooden construction is an environmentally beneficial act because of the following aspects: they are fast to make (compared to masonry buildings), have a low energy demand, and clean energy production. 

The philosophy behind the passive houses focuses on two fundamental aspects:

Reducing the Energy Consumption

The first one refers to reducing the energy consumption necessary to maintain comfort conditions up to 90%, especially regarding the cooling and heating energy, which is two-three times lower than the required electric energy in classical buildings.  

Since most buildings burn fossil fuels to keep warm—mainly methane, the world’s annual fuel consumption to heat these buildings is almost twice as big as the overall quantity of energy used by all the cars, airplanes, and boats put together.

By building in the passive house standard, you significantly reduce the impact on the environment; it also makes it possible that these buildings function on renewable energy. 

Increased Comfort

The second aspect is related to the increase in the degree of comfort in the building. We all know and feel that, throughout the year, comfort may vary—in the winter, it can get too cold, draughty, or moldy—and in the summer, it can get too hot and too humid.  

A passive building has a ‘skin’, or a ‘shell’—which is a homogeneous thermal protection layer. The cold outside air does not enter the house uncontrollably, and neither does the warm air leave the house, which significantly reduces the sensation of air currents; it also eliminates the risk of forming mold on the walls.  

Altogether, the thermal comfort is high, and the internal temperature is constant. Since the people who benefit from this building have a desk job, the body is susceptible to physical stress factors, impacting performance.  

The Difference Between Passive House and Low- Energy 

Creatopy’s office is a certified Low-Energy Building, the second next to Passive House Standard—they are identical in principles. Still, this standard is more permissive to specific values, for cases in which the building’s climate and shape cannot sustain all values of the Passive House Standard. 

4. The Passive House Principle (Passivhaus Standard) and CLT

The concept of ‘Passivehaus’ was co-developed by Professors Bo Adamson of Lund University, Sweden, and Wolfgang Feist of the Institut für Wohnen und Umwelt (Institute for Housing and the Environment) in 1988 in Germany. It describes a way of designing a building and enabling it to use between 77 and 84% less energy for space heating when compared to similar size houses simply conforming to standard Northern European building code.  

The background story for this concept was the shortage in the fuel business, which affected the construction business too, forcing builders to find new and innovative ways of building homes that used very little or no energy. That later translated into more and more people becoming interested in building houses with a small—or zero impact on the environment, turning into a cultural phenomenon.  

The construction industry begins to find new ways of building passive houses, and CLT—cross-laminated timber is an industry favorite. CLT is a subtype of engineered wood, created by researcher Gerhard Schickhofer in the ’90s in Austria, and is a wood panel product made from gluing together layers of solid-sawn lumber.

CLT is just one of several types of timber used in construction; others include laminated veneer lumber (LVL), nail-laminated timber (NLT), and dowel-laminated timber (DLT). 

Nowadays, passive wooden buildings are gaining popularity, with architects and designers returning to cross-laminated timber because they reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also cutting on costs. It is a new technology using a timeless construction material, but the improved technology is starting to gain traction worldwide.

5. What the Future Holds

At the G8 meeting in 2009 to discuss global emission cuts, the group set the target to reduce global emissions by 80% by 2050. Since buildings are responsible for more than 40% of the amount, it’s clear that the building industry will have to adapt to the new reality: to become more innovative and wise when it comes to the long-term effect of its products.

Passive buildings are an excellent alternative to conventional constructions since their energy savings equal emissions reductions. With the current situation of shortening non-renewable resources, they are an investment in the future. 

Back to our low-energy building, this initiative is only the beginning. 

“In creating this new home for us, we wanted to inspire other businesses to do the same—to choose sustainability over short-term gains because saving our planet has to be a joint effort. Our buildings will outlast us, and the decisions we make in the present will influence the planet we leave to our future generations.”

— Gabriel Ciordas, Founder & CEO at Creatopy

We need to revolutionize how we build and make good use of technological breakthroughs and be aware of the impact we all have on the environment. Our part is substantial, and it cannot be overlooked. The future will be fantastic, only if we start acting now, together.

6. The Team Behind the Project

  • Architecture: Vertical Studio – ar. Mădălina Mihălceanu, ar. Gabriel Bulea-Chiș, intern ar. Florin Nan-Moisa
  • Structure: Inginerie Creativă – eng. Marius Șoflete, eng. Octavian Timu, eng. Cătălin Caraza
  • Low-Energy Building for passive house designs (calculations): eng. Marius Șoflete
  • Low-Energy Building Certification: ar. Dragoș Arnăutu from dr. Wolfgang Feist Passive House Institute
  • Appliances: Terax Engineering – eng. Gabriel Dincuță and Eurocad Instal – eng. Raul Barstan
  • General Contractor: Bejona Construct
  • Assemblage of CLT, thermowood facade and impermeability: General Pro Construct
  • Roof hydroisolation: Kontil
  • General appliances execution: Terax Engineering
  • Windows: ZetPlast
  • Electrical systems: DHElectric System
  • Fire extinguishing systems: Minela Exim
  • The internal team that handled the entire project:
    • Project Manager: George Micloș
    • Worksite supervisor: Ervin Kabai
    • Legal Advisor: Csaba Szucs

Thank you all. We are truly grateful for your contribution to our project!

Categories
Updates

Our New Visual Identity From the Inside Out

9 minutes read

Lately, we’ve been talking a lot about the Bannersnack rebranding.

A few weeks ago, Teodora presented the main business reasons for our rebranding, and Vasilica detailed how we’ve built the next version of our product.

Today, it’s my turn to show you how we redesigned, implemented, and scaled our new visual identity from the inside out.

As you would expect, being a well-established online design tool, the way we communicate through design is crucial. After more than a year of hard work, my team and I reimagined how the product works, looks, feels, speaks, and shines. 

This is how Creatopy was born and defined, and here are the challenges we had to overcome and lessons we learned.

1. Laying the Foundation

It all started with the name

{banner} {snack}. It was the perfect name back when we were the leading software for the banner ad design industry. But as soon as we grew, the visual identity was left behind. We’ve also lacked a solid brand identity, and we soon realized we could do so much more than our name suggested. Basically, our product became much more versatile over time, and so did we. 

It was clear that we needed a new brand, a new identity, that can stand the test of time and the braveness of our goals.

Creativity. Let it glow. The backbone of our visual language.

“Derived from “Creation/Creativity” and “Utopia,” the name denotes the idea of perfect creation and vast imaginary potential, the best place for creativity.” Brandient

We’ve chosen a bold, vibrant, and powerful representation to depict the Creative Empowerment in our visual communication. When it comes to the main pillars of our product design, we emphasized our strong customer-centric approach, which helps our customers reach their potential in creativity and productivity with our platform’s help.

The combination of these two terms is what our new design language relies on.

Creatopy – Look and feel of the new visual language & brand imagery.

Our choices are bold, vivid, and glowy. Creative, Techy, and Energetic. The typography is unique and strong. We really wanted to achieve a visual style that is like no other in our segment. Our visual language gravitates around creativity and the inner glow of the creative mind, that deep state of flow when you are really in that creative process. Call it magic—our new brand identity.  

It would have been impossible for us to achieve all these without our magnificent creative and strategic partners at Brandient, who helped us define and build this new creative universe. 

2. We Have a Brand—Now What?

The hardest part of a rebranding is making it work

Building a new brand is fun, engaging, creative, and spectacular, but scaling it through the organization, getting people used to it, making it work on all mediums, channels, formats, and systems, every time and for everyone—now that’s a complex and sweaty process.

Getting everyone on board

In a big organization with such a heritage and more than 130 driven people, adopting a new brand is not the same as kicking off a new company where you need a fresh identity. People are often used to and attached to the brand, and more than you imagine, they are afraid of change when it comes to a new name, new logo, and a completely new identity. 

To accept the new identity, embrace it and start loving what’s to come, you need to get the entire company excited about the change. Everyone should adhere to the message, values, core principles, boldness, and bravery of the new identity. 

After we finished Creatopy’s primary branding process, we kicked off with an engagement session to create buzz and excitement within the whole organization, showing everyone the new brand, discovering it together, and, let me tell you, it was a fantastic experience. 

Brand Engagement Session: Ciprian Robu @ Brandient – Presenting our signature typeface

Consistency is key. Rules are essential. Creativity is mandatory

In order to succeed, you really need to think about systems and processes. There is no way around it. It doesn’t sound that creative, right? Believe it or not, this is what I love the most about our rebranding story.

For us, the design team, one of the critical elements that led us to succeed was adopting Figma. Let me say it was extraordinary. 

Having everyone in the team on the same platform, collaborating in real-time, on the same files, sharing assets and components are the things that helped us scale our new brand in record time. 

Brand iconography used throughout the website and UI 

Base typography and color system

Get the feel of the new visual language

First of all, you need to make sure everyone knows and understands your brand’s mission, core values, communication guidelines. Designers need to embrace the same style, art direction and stick around your systems, assets, and processes. 

Explore the digital horizon

You can achieve all of these by organizing creative workshops together with all the members of your design team. 

Right after we had our first creative directions, we explored their boundaries. I challenged my team to play and explore a few innovative applications of the new brand to see how it would fit into real-world examples. We also pushed it to extreme scenarios to understand and define our design system together.

Example: An Instagram carousel post built around the brand’s key visual elements.

Building a scalable design system

Develop design systems for your team.

Once you’ve explored the creative direction, you can set rules. Set some boundaries, create the style guides, and make sure to include the following:

  • Use this, don’t use this.
  • Establish how a social media post and the hero section of your website will look like.
  • What the primary colors are.
  • How to format your typography.
  • When to use dark backgrounds and when you should stick to white.
  • Share the entire icon library, create buttons, atoms, components, and systems around your visual language. 

And most importantly: train your team. Make sure everybody uses the same system, and they know how to do it. 

We created so many systems. Presentation templates for Keynote and Google Slides, UI Systems with clearly defined style-guides, icon libraries, UI Components, illustration artwork how-tos, a dedicated system for social media visuals, and an entire modular website ecosystem. Just to name a few.

Example: Digital assets broken down into separate frames for homepage motion graphics.

Developing the illustration identity system

Illustrations in the SaaS industry are now overwhelming. I could also say they are a bit overused. But let’s face it, we still need them. Great artists can communicate things a simple picture cannot. And I’m happy to say that some of the most talented artists I have ever met are part of my team.

These illustrations are not new, and when you use a generic style, which is also used everywhere else on the web, you can easily hurt your brand. But the way we approached this is totally unique.

There are tons of libraries out there, thousands of websites that use the same styles repeatedly. Inspired by Blush, I wanted to develop our illustration style and design a system for art. We aimed to create an illustration style guide infused with our own identity and build a system that can help illustrators and creative artists stay on brand when crafting new artwork. 

Example: Illustration guidelines and artwork

Infuse the branding in the office culture

Transforming a brand also means transforming a culture, transforming the team behind it. To emphasize, remind and drive the common passion of your team, you also need to brand the ambient too. 

The presence of the new identity was really important for us. This is why, as soon as we had our brand engagement session, we decorated our office with a few props and branded items just so everyone can feel and embrace our new values.

In-office brand values artwork

Modular website for consistency and efficiency

Because time wasn’t really on our side, we needed a fast and efficient approach when it came to our website overhaul, a solution that would help us change all of our website pages at once (using the same styling), including everything from contact pages to landing pages, feature pages, and so on. 

Here is where modularity and scalable components can really come in handy. 

Based on our core art direction, website structure, web-design practices, and SEO practice, we defined a system of over 20 different reusable sections. 

We created everything from hero sections to testimonials, templates, and CTAs. Everything we know we are going to reuse over and over again and base our site structure upon.

A few examples of the modules and theme colors for the new website.

The next step was to define each page with its unique content and assemble those pages using the predefined sections. We defined the boundaries of the color choices, so I know everything stays consistent and on-brand. 

This approach was really fast and let us redesign the whole website in a matter of months. But to achieve this, you’ll also need a lot of focus and knowledge. I was fortunate to work with such a professional team alongside me. It was essential to have a core team consisting of product owners, developers, SEO specialists, product marketers, copywriters, and designers to achieve this together.

Example of a landing page built with modular website components and color themes.

3. Infusing the Brand Into the Product’s Identity

Designing great products is different from branding projects. A product should revolve around the user’s needs. A user interface is not a piece of art, and usability and accessibility are way more important than looks. 

So UI is not always brandable. First and foremost, it should be easy to navigate, easy to understand, and accessible, but at the same time, it shouldn’t be common and neutral.

The process around how we redesigned our product will be featured in another article later on because that’s something I could write about for days. From a brand perspective, what I wanted was to let our customers experience the same magical, glowy feel of the entire product. I wanted to make customers feel like they’re on a journey, experiencing the same brand from discovery to actually using the product daily. 

To achieve this, I made sure the Product Design team is also familiar with the brand’s main pillars and themes. We’ve had a lot of exploration workshops and hundreds of iterations.

After more than six months of hard work, we developed the new UI design system—an interface that can follow the same visual style, uses the same icon system, has the same shine across the entire product’s visual communication. We matched the main themes and product pillars with the brand’s color themes and infused a little glow into the product. 

Let it glow.

Example: Visual thumbnails of the design presets infused with some “glow and shine.”

Example: In-app navigation menu using the same key accent colors as the website.

Example: Dashboard UI with a vivid, clean layout.

4. Closing Thoughts

We had eight months to do all these things from the ground up, so it’s far from perfect, but I’m a massive believer in iterative design, so we won’t stop here. Good is never enough.

Throughout this entire process, I discovered that a brand is a living organism. It scales, and it evolves together with the product and the team behind it. And it should make sense to be like that.

Until the next article, where I’ll deep dive into the process of building these design systems and do’s and don’ts of the product design process, explore Creatopy in the full launch video below and start your free trial to explore the full potential. 

Categories
Culture

Celebrating Women: 8 Powerful Messages from Tech Professionals

6 minutes read

As a tech company with a product that is mostly addressed to creators, we are front-line observers of outstanding International Women’s Day campaigns.

Creatopy is joining the 2021 International Women’s Day movement, and we too #ChooseToChallenge, centering our efforts towards celebrating the achievements of the amazing women around us.

To that extent, we invited eight outstanding women of Creatopy to share their achievements, ambitions, and struggles with us.

1. Are there equal opportunities for women in C-level positions?

Gender disparity in the C-suite is a reality in corporate leadership positions. Gendered patterns actively hold women back from accumulating the relevant career experience that would later lead them to these leadership positions. Therefore we all have to challenge these patterns and take action for equality.

While a male COO must have outstanding leadership skills and business acumen, I feel like a woman in the same position has to do more to stand out from the crowd.

However, this is not the case, here, at Creatopy. I wish more CEOs had a vision like ours, and empower women by creating equal opportunities, especially in tech.

– Teodora Gavriluț, COO

2. Why is it important that more women get into tech?

The tech industry requires a more human approach, and women naturally have the ability to understand human connection at a deeper level. The key element in making that possible is empathy.

When women use their empathic thinking to find solutions, the best products emerge, changing the community and our world.

– Vasilica Bob, VP of Product

3. How would you describe your job environment?

My job environment is surrounded by beauty—amazing charm coming from each lady that makes our techy industry more and more inspiring.

I see each day great talent revealing strong, intelligent, and independent women in every field you can imagine: Development, Quality Assurance, Product Management, Marketing, Design, Data Analytics, and the list goes on and on.

My joy is doubled by the fact that our male colleagues acknowledge and respect our contribution. I strongly believe that a woman who feels beautiful, smart, and respected is unstoppable. We have this team in-house, and that’s why we’ll achieve our dream of unlocking limitless creativity together.

– Carmen Pârge, HR Manager

4. How are you forging a gender-equal world around you?

Growing up, I was always surrounded by strong and compassionate women. Starting from my grandmother, who brought up seven children, and my aunts, who were single moms, to my mother, who had to support herself from a young age, all these by-the-book feminists and inspiring women forged a gender-equal world around me simply by living their lives.

Now, back to the question at hand: How am I forging a gender-equal world around me? I’m a feminist, I’m pro-women, and most importantly, I’m pro-equality.

I do not believe in gender roles, nor do I live my life around them. I support the women around me with my entire heart and encourage women-led and women-owned businesses. I make a conscious effort to show the women around me love and support.

I celebrate their professional and personal progress. I applaud atypical beauty standards and uncommon life goals.

We’re each enabling our world every day with small yet impactful positive changes and actions.

Here, at Creatopy, I’m lucky to be surrounded by brilliant, highly qualified women. We lift each other up on every occasion.

– Diana Bolboacă, Communications & Outreach Team Leader

5. Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women considering pursuing a career as a PPC Manager?

If you are analytical and you are always eager to learn, a Paid-Per-Click (PPC) Specialist career is your path. PPC is an ever-changing field, so you must be open to change. This profession is as complex as women are. It’s like an all-in-one job — you must be a psychologist who knows and takes care of users’ intent; a numerical wizard who can analyze and understand data, a teacher who is able to explain complicated advertising algorithms, a fire-fighter who can make the right decisions regardless of the severity of the problem, and also a child who has an insatiable desire for knowledge.

You will have the privilege to work in a profession that is so complex that nobody will know for sure what you are doing exactly, but if you don’t do your job for one day, they will notice it.

– Bernadett Kovacs-Dioszegi, PPC Manager

6. What do you think is the biggest issue today facing women of your age?

Looking at women nowadays and realizing all the things we are able to do is just mind-blowing. Even if I’m in my twenties, I love looking back in history and finding amazing stories about women who have changed the world by simply living their life being brave enough to fight for their dreams. One of the biggest issues today facing women of my age is that sometimes we still cannot realize what a brilliant creation we are, and this might stop us from accomplishing our goals.

On International Women’s Day, I wish all young women around the world the ability to realize the true value of being a woman and to appreciate themselves more.

– Nina Țîrtea, Account Manager

7. How important is it for women to lift each other up, and what does that mean to you?

I would be nothing without the support of the women around me. The people at Creatopy give me a feeling of belonging to a larger family, which is something I missed while living and working abroad. I know I can count on my colleagues to lift me up when I’m dealing with a difficult task or when I feel under the weather.

Why is that important? Because we all need to relate to others in our day-to-day life. We need to know we are not alone and that no matter how strange our experiences may be, someone else has gone through something similar, and they are there to support you.

Over the past year, my journey has been nothing short of amazing, and I am truly grateful to be part of the wonderful team here. I found a new home in Oradea, and I look forward to coming to work every day, knowing that I can count on my fellow female colleagues in the office to share laughs, jokes, useful advice, and our success as a team.

– Daniela Pârlea, Account Manager

8. On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

I didn’t always know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. What I do now, as much as I love it, might not even be it — I worked in many industries to find my true calling.

Life is full of phenomenal opportunities; some will turn into gold, some are great lessons that you can take with you further. Change can be hard and terrifying, but it is powerful. It will help you discover strengths you didn’t know you had.

My advice is to surround yourself with people who are going to lift you higher. And no matter what you choose to do, do it with enthusiasm. Sometimes it’s okay to allow our hearts to lead the way and to become driven by feelings. Love will always be the answer. It always was my answer.

– Teodora Vese, Account Executive

Final Thoughts

The best action to raise awareness against the bias women face is rooted in the choice of challenge. You, too, can raise awareness and choose to challenge, as change occurs when challenges happen.

We, at Creatopy, celebrate the work of women creatives, encourage and applaud all women’s empowerment initiatives in all industries and fields.

Categories
Culture

When Sky’s the Limit, Redesign the Sky. Insights From Our Product Transformation

5 minutes read

Last week, Teodora, our COO, discussed the rebranding from a marketing perspective, and today it’s my turn to tell you about the process from the product point of view.

Long story short, after we assessed everything, we realized that the product we loved for years has done its part, and it can’t sustain our long-term goal anymore. 

We concluded that we need a totally redesigned visual identity and a new product to match our vision, target audience and take us where we want.

The Tipping Point That Led to the Big Decision

Over the years, we kept adding new features to Bannersnack and made improvements to provide a better customer experience. But when we tried to define and position our product on the market, the bubble burst.  

So in 2019, we performed a competitive analysis, and things got clearer.

What we realized:

  • The product didn’t have a clear positioning. It provided a set of features that could very well belong in a CMS as well as in an online graphic design tool, but the product wasn’t clearly defined in none of these two markets. However, we had a real potential to become a valuable graphic design tool.
  • Our working process wasn’t scalable enough, and we needed a new methodology to make our work transparent and easier to handle.
  • The foundation of Bannersnack was overcrowded and didn’t provide the right infrastructure that we needed to reach our goals.  

The solutions we came up with

  • Implementing the SAFe Agile methodology

For four months, along with the CTO and entire team, we worked on the new methodology, and we finally succeeded in implementing the SAFe Agile Framework. This meant that we now had a scalable, transparent process, creating a perfect connection between departments, where any member of the team could come up with ideas, while the focus was always on the customer.

The SAFe Agile Framework helped us by showing the team and product alike’ strong and weak points, mending everything along the way.

On top of that, our team was extremely responsive and ready to adopt all these changes, making the transition much more manageable. Each individual came with their own know-how, and when you add this to a streamlined workflow, the result speaks for itself.

The product team was the glue that kept all the other teams together, working for the same precise goal.

  • Shifting the focus towards the GDT industry 

Because our real potential is in the online graphic design tools industry, we decided to focus all of our actions on this.

Our goal is to become trendsetters on the GTD market and work proactively by offering our clients exactly what they need to carry out their creative process.

This brings me to the next point.

How We Rebuilt the Product From Scratch

1. The customer became the epicenter

By looking back at the past, we managed to pinpoint the strong points we want to keep and the missing parts, which we needed to develop. 

Then we got a pretty good idea of how Creatopy should be: one of the best collaborative graphic design tools.

The most important aspect was to build a graphic design tool customizable for anyone. This meant Creatopy would change and take the exact shape that fulfills the customer’s needs while working on the platform.

So, the client is now the product’s epicenter, and the platform transforms according to their needs.

2. It all revolves around team collaboration

A significant improvement is the fact that we created a product that revolves around teams. This means that the product doesn’t tie the collaboration to a specific plan, but you can add members to your team at any given time in your workflow, and the product can serve your needs. Big or small, we love all our team clients. 

Not to mention that collaboration has become increasingly important due to the pandemic, so it was the best move we could’ve made.

3. We now have a dashboard

We didn’t really have a dashboard in Bannersnack. After signing in, users were redirected to the area where they could see all the banners they created. 

We’ve seen how important it is for users to have an area of inspiration, a place where the decision to create is accompanied by important information, such as design trends (viewing new templates, design types, and sizes), intent categories like social, display, print, etc., or new features added to the design types like video and animations.

Our goal is for users to have a dynamic and personal experience. Rather than providing a dashboard with static information, it is essential to be able to scan and filter information visually, having access to the most used design types in seconds.

If you’re wondering what’s next, we’re cooking more features that will make team collaboration a delight.

Disbelief Lurks as You Move Forward. How Did We Cope?

When you start working on something so meaningful, there will be feelings of unrest from time to time and questions such as Is the way we’re going the right way?

The thing is, you have to test everything to find out.

Where we didn’t have enough knowledge, we applied the ideate, iterate, validate concept from Design Thinking. This meant that any idea could be a good idea if you look at the problem from every possible perspective. It just needs to be tested.

The process goes like this: you create a prototype, ask for clients’ opinions on it, make changes if necessary, validate again with clients, and then deliver the final result.

In December 2020, our first design concept was tested together with some of our clients, and we kept going like this with other features. Our clients are our most valued critics because, thanks to them, we can truly understand what they need in their creation process. 

The whole point was to learn more about the way they work so we can figure out what we can fix in the future.

By the time our product was ready to be released, we had implemented many features validated by our clients.

And since the moment we started to put our customers in the center of the product, our brand positioning was born: The efficient and intuitive visual production platform, delivering a well-crafted creative experience for communicators and teams.

Lessons Learned

Now that I look back after the rebranding process is over, I can say that I’ve learned a few things:

  • Be human, especially when you are a manager. Support your team and do everything you can to keep team members in sync with each other.
  • Everyone is equally important in the process. For everything to run smoothly, everyone plays an essential role during this process.
  • Processes help, but they can’t save you. No matter how efficient a process is, everyone needs to be involved for it to work.
  • You can’t know everything. And once you think you do, the client and the market will bring you down to earth. The pandemic taught us that.
  • Acknowledge opportunities. They don’t come knocking on the door twice, so once you implement some changes, embrace them and acknowledge the opportunities that come along.

Final Thoughts

Even though Creatopy is just starting out, it doesn’t stop us from dreaming big.

We started something extraordinarily dynamic and open to new possibilities, allowing us to continuously build and improve in the future, together with our most important assets: our team and clients.

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Company Updates

From Bannersnack to Creatopy. Our Rebranding Story From A to Z

7 minutes read

Let me start by saying that I am proud! 

As a Chief Operating Officer (former Head of Marketing) at a Romanian company that outdid itself, despite all the impediments and challenges that came along the way (including the pandemic), I am proud of my incredible team and of all the work that we’ve done to get to this milestone in our careers.

It shows a total commitment to something that unified a company so beautifully that Creatopy came into existence.

So are you ready to get a sneak peek of our rebranding process?

In this article, I want to explain a little bit about the rebranding from a marketing and brand perspective. I’ll walk you through the process, why we didn’t postpone the launch until after the pandemic, and a little bit about our new and oh so glowing product—Creatopy.

1. How Did We Get Here? The Road So Far

Bannersnack, the original banner maker, started as a bootstrapped, self-sustained company. And one of the most impressive things about it is that it remained self-sustained, with yearly growth rates, some as high as 80%.

On top of the fact that we built everything from scratch, we made ourselves noticed as real competition in the graphic design tools market without the help of an external partner.

You’re probably wondering why we decided to change a product and its entire identity if it’s doing so well.

Well, let me explain.

1.1. Total rebranding: main reasons

Since day one, we have invested many resources and time into providing better solutions for our clients. 

Our vision was very clear: our platform has to be an advertiser’s best friend, making design accessible and time-efficient. 

And we still want that. 

But as our product grew, we felt like the name and brand started to set lower expectations to potential users. 

It was even in the name. Let’s analyze Bannersnack for a moment.

Banner = an indicator that you can create banners on the platform; Snack = something that’s quick yet does not go a long way.

But we started to offer more than just a tool for banner creation. Moreover, our market positioning and target audience were not properly aligned.

The name and the market positioning led to the big change.

In 2018 we decided we need a total rebranding. Our Product Owners and Head of Design worked together with Brandient, a consultancy firm on brand strategy and design. Together with them, we defined the name, positioning, identity, and vision of the company.

In January 2019, we revealed the brand identity internally. Since then, we have been working towards the same goal: launching Creatopy () and turning it into one of the best graphic design tools.

1.2. A pandemic rebranding 

The idea of rebranding came to life before the pandemic. With it came the need for a new working methodology, a more streamlined and transparent one. 

So, we started the process of implementing the new working methodology: SAFe Agile. When the time came, this allowed us to work from home yet still feeling like we’re in it together.

The new processes and the confidence we had about our rebranding decision made us carry out the process, even during the dreadful period of the pandemic.

And, last week, on February 8, we introduced Creatopy to the world.

2. The Rebranding: Step by Step

After more careful consideration and extensive market analysis, we concluded that not only the name has to be changed, but also the product because our goal was simple yet very challenging: become an industry-leading graphic design tool.

After this examination, we implemented the SAFe Agile methodology (which took four months) and started working remotely on this total rebranding project.

And it worked, despite the pandemic and the emotional toll that we’ve all experienced. The situation even allowed us to examine the human need, and we learned new processes. 

Precisely because we had a great working process, but most importantly, we have an innate drive towards technology and creativity alike, it helped us throughout the entire project.

2.1. SAFe Agile: The backbone of our rebranding process

This methodology helped the entire company stay aligned during rebranding. We had a clear view of the business roadmap, planning ahead what’s next. Some may say too much planning, but I guarantee it will pay off in the long run.

The idea was to help cross-functional teams collaborate more effectively.

I can’t say it was smooth sailing every day. We longed for our monthly meetings, team bonding, coffee breaks, and the unique energy our office had. This is why every time we had an online meeting, we started with a bit of chit-chat, and we always made sure to talk about the latest meals we cooked.

On the process side, we’re learning with each PI, and we’re confident that after the fifth one, we’ll know exactly what we’re doing. <fingers crossed>

The SAFe Agile methodology gave us a clear vision of the entire roadmap and enough flexibility.

2.2. A digital tool with a human touch 

The industry we’re in was continuously flourishing even before the pandemic. But during last year we saw just how important it could be to keep the human touch in all that we do.

Our vision for Creatopy is to be a tool that offers every creator and communicator the possibility to connect through their work, putting their emotions into visual communication.

The pandemic forced many of us to collaborate online even more, which shaped even better the importance of a design collaborative platform. And there’s where we want Creatopy to shine.

3. Creatopy: The Name’s Meaning, Goals, and Values

So, why Creatopy?

3.1. Creatopy: the meaning behind the name

We chose this name because it has, at its root, two essential words that perfectly encapsulate the whole purpose of our graphic design tool:

  • Create. The platform is for all kinds of content creators: marketers, designers, advertisers, or any other professional that needs a platform to create professional designs without necessarily having advanced design skills.
  • Utopia. We wish for this platform to have the best features that allow people to be productive and creative at their fullest potential and get rid of repetitive and disruptive tasks. This is the place where your creativity can glow, always aspiring for the perfect design.

3.2. Creatopy positioning

We finally have a clear and defined brand positioning: An efficient and intuitive visual production platform delivering a well-crafted creative experience for communicators and teams.

Previously, we had a bit of a struggle being a trend-setter because we lacked a strong foundation to add new features.

A few years ago, we managed to bring something new to the industry when we launched the Design Generator, a huge productivity improvement, but our plan for Creatopy is to do so much more.

3.3. Creatopy’s values

As a COO to a company where we work towards building one of the best graphic design tools out there, I identify completely with the brand’s values.

In case you haven’t seen our video teasing campaign, here’s a recap:

  • I belong to an A-team of beautiful minds and open hearts, allowing me to think sharp, to glow bright, and to stay agile. 

You can’t do great things by yourself, that’s for sure. And when you want to do them, you’ll naturally surround yourself with people that have the same principles.

  • I mean technology. I am passionate about… no. I actually live and breathe technology. That’s it!

Technology is a part of who I am. Nuff said.

  • I care about delivering the best CX, because I’m seriously going to knock our clients’ socks off with a state-of-the-art journey on our platform, pleasant and productive.

Our clients are the core of our business. They teach us how to deliver the best tool so they can have a flawless experience from A-Z. Product marketing is trending right now, but we’ve done this for years.

  • I create beautiful design content because the best quality collection of designs always wins.

As a former Head of Marketing, my background speaks for me. I always liked creating content. When it comes to my artistic side, I can’t say I’m good at it, but luckily I can make good use of our graphic design tool. 

This is also a pain point we wanted to address with Creatopy: getting your dose of inspiration from everything we have on the platform. Just pick a template and personalize it exactly how you wish.

  • I love Oradea, the city which provides the necessary magic dust for me. And because Transylvania sounds awesome. 

I was born in this magical city, and I recommend just visiting it. You’ll see what I’m talking about.

Wrapping It Up

We want to be a strong voice in the graphic design tools industry, a trend-setter because we definitely have many great things to offer.

The first step is done. We’ve launched Creatopy, and we’re cooking some grand things that will be revealed over the next few months.

I want to end this article by saying that the best is yet to come, from partnerships to features and other things that will make a difference in the graphic design tools industry.

Since you’re still here, you must be as excited as I am, so let me disclose an exclusive piece of info about what’s coming. Your trust in us is going to pay off. How?

Your experience with Creatopy will be uniquely yours, personalized to the fullest through machine learning, creating a one of a kind creative experience. 

Worth reading until the end, am I right?