Established in 2012, Degreed is an online platform that connects learning to opportunities, created with large-ish companies in mind so that their employees can continue learning and developing new skills while on the job. The degreed platform assesses teams’ existing skills and then customizes and aggregates courses, videos, articles, projects, and more, specific to each employee. With six offices and over 450 employees around the world, Degreed works with more than 250 organizations — including companies like Airbnb, Boeing, Citi, HP, and Unilever — to increase their expertise. Recently, Degreed began rolling out a new identity designed in-house.
Disclaimer: Degreed has been a sponsor of the Brand New Conference in 2015 and 2017. Is there a conflict of interest in me writing a review about their identity? You bet! But no one else is gonna, so we’ll all have to deal : )
We knew this rebrand wouldn’t be a burn-it-to-the-ground approach. We’ve worked hard to build Degreed’s brand equity and carve out a unique space in the mind of our clients and our community, so we knew we couldn’t just throw all that work away. Instead, we decided to leverage the core elements that have served us so well, and build our refresh around them.
Glasses have long been a symbol of nerds, mad scientists, and superheroes in disguise. While we definitely identify a little bit with all of those things, for us, the glasses represent a core part of our mission: the sunglasses John F Kennedy wore during his famous (and inspiring) May 25, 1961 “moonshot” speech.
We knew the glasses weren’t going anywhere, so we simplified them by getting rid of the little asterisk/spark/plus sign that floated to the upper right. (What was that thing anyway?) We finessed the curves and we adjusted the length of the arms, resulting in a fresh pair of glasses that is gender-neutral, a little more elegant, and a lot more balanced.
The next piece we tackled was the Degreed wordmark, again building on the core of what made it recognizable: a simple, friendly, lowercase sans-serif font. We started with a classic typeface — Aktiv Grotesk Extended Bold to be exact— and then customized the weight, adjusted some angles, rounded the corners for a touch more friendliness, and finally, got super-design-nerdy about character spacing. All this to ensure a new and unique wordmark that will hold up at every size — from 1/4 inch to spanning a stage (once we can do live events again, of course.)
The old logo introduced the thick-framed glasses as a quick signifier for learning, which may potentially be a cliché but I think it’s a smart association that allowed Degreed to avoid other “learning” clichés like the graduation cap or some kind of diploma which would have been a more literal interpretation. The evolution of the glasses icon is positive in pretty much every way, mostly through all the smoothing of the curves, like the one on the bridge and the inverse shadow cast by the top temple (which is a term I TIL’d today, which are the long-y thingies on the sides that connect the glasses from your eyes to your ears). I also like how the temple tips (TIL!) are now parallel to the temples. Losing the spark is a great move because I really never understood why it was there. The wordmark is an improvement in that the letterform shapes relate better to the glasses but there is something off about the modifications that they made and/or the proportions of the letters, especially the “g”, whose ascender feels too tight. Or maybe Aktiv Grotesk Extended Bold, as they pointed out, was not the best starting point. Still, it’s one degree of interest above the typical geometric or deadpan sans serif and the removal of the period at the end of a lowercase wordmark is very welcome.
Blue has also been a prominent part of the Degreed brand from the beginning. In fact, we’ve used various shades of the old Degreed blue in pretty much every way imaginable. So blue is here to stay, but we’ve brightened it to work better in our app (and pretty much every other application) and given it a name: True Blue.
Sure enough, the color palette does include a bump of the blue into that blue and while the new supporting colors of black, yellow, and coral do look good together, they also feel reminiscent of other tech color palettes (Sample A, Sample B).
To complement the visual overhaul our brand is getting, we have also overhauled our messaging. We’re still going to be as bold and human as ever in our voice and tone, but you’ll see clearer language that speaks to a broader audience than before. We’re tackling a big problem and we want everyone to hear what we have to say. Because having the skills for tomorrow is something that everyone should be concerned about.
The supporting type families are nice and, as you’ll see in the videos at the end, I like how they are used more expressively on their own and in combination. There is a slight 1990s vibe to it that’s awkwardly refreshing.
Along with our logo, wordmark, and colors, we’re changing our typeface and brand imagery like photography, illustration, and patterns. We’ll also be rolling out a refreshed website, social channels, videos, and much more in the coming weeks and months.
I really like how the illustrations and photography integrate the color palette and how they build a visual language not by repeating the same style or approach but by building on the combination of hues. There are some additional 3D-esque animations in the videos below that also make good use of the color palette.
Not much in terms of applications but there is still some enjoyable things to see here as well as the flexibility of the elements, going from something more “serious” like the heavily-banded notebooks to something more silly like the socks.
Overall, this is a lot of style over substance and I admit that I am easily swayed by all the smooth motion graphics and photos of socks on gridded paper but as a way to market, promote, and build excitement around continued-online-learning-on-the-job, which I feel is a really hard thing to give form to, for both Degreed’s employees and the organizations they work with, I think this identity upgrade makes their proposition much more engaging, dynamic, and attractive.