Tags:

Scope:

  • Brand Identity (Visual + Voice)
  • Web Design + Development

Published:

Spring 2019

Inventing a global design system for the past, present, and future

Helping a German-based company evolve their brand for the new era of their strategy, products, acquisition, and communications for new markets had its complications.

The challenge was parsing the organization. The parent company, Haufe Gruppe, comprises 24+ sub-brands. We had to build a brand architecture to frame which brands fit into the new story, which needed their own story, and which didn’t need to be included all together. There were brands contributing to their core business that had been growing steadily for over 75 years. Evolving but generally consistent. Then there was the new strategic entities that were moving into territories of innovation, new markets, larger enterprise offerings, new verticals, and core competencies on the global business stage – all to help large enterprises connect their business strategy with their people strategy. Entire product categories were being invented (and continue to be). Aligning them into one large ecosystem was a significant hurdle we were able to overcome with a unique solution.

We zeroed in on a “family of systems” approach to accommodate the different brands, products, and communications needs. We developed something stable, stoic, and solid for their core business, but also something fast, innovative, and forward thinking. We named these “Legend” and “Lightspeed”: Two systems from one family. Legend would serve the legacy business and Lightspeed would serve the new companies and innovations. To unify them we used the H from their logo as an articulated grid system that has been written about as an inspiring solution. The result was an identity system flexible for the past, present, and future of the company.

Application extended across many brands and sub-brands, new product road maps, their digital ecosystem, future design systems for Co-Creation Summit, the advent of Rhythmix and the ground-breaking invention of PeopleOS. This massive project required dedication to partnership and continual in-person workshops with the internal Haufe design teams, brand directors, and business leadership. We embedded ourselves in Freiburg, Germany, Sankt Gallen, Switzerland, and hosted entire groups of people in San Francisco from Haufe.

Our work influenced Haufe’s internal culture along with its business and marketing. To socialize and implement the new design system throughout the multinational organization, we created Desum, a two day Design Summit. It continues at Haufe as a hub for creatives across their companies to collaborate and share in design.