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What We Can Learn From Medium’s Brand Refresh

From the plethora of rehashed articles on Facebook to Stories on Snap and IG,  there is no shortage of content on the internet these days. Hell, there are enough cat videos on YouTube to keep you preoccupied until you die of hunger.  Personally I have always preferred Medium for its user provided content. As owner of a design firm, I appreciate their minimalist interface because allows readers to focus on the content versus being bombarded constantly by bait links and shiny objects.

Last week I got an email from a friend sharing Medium’s latest brand refresh with a message attached, “Thought you would enjoy this!”

My friends know me all to well.

He was absolutely right. Medium’s rebranding had me like…

This is the company’s second rebranding effort in the last couple years. Back in 2015, Medium underwent a refresh in order to update a rather expired brand identity and I think that they did a fantastic job. So why change it again?

It appears that the good folks at Medium seem to understand something about branding that most companies do not. Branding is not a “one and done” task you do once and check off your list forever. The market is constantly changing, companies grow or evolve, and new industries emerge almost daily. Brands need to be dynamic and adaptive otherwise they risk extinction; take Blackberry, Circuit City, and Blockbuster for example. Medium’s update last week had a much different motive that the last go around. This time was more about realigning their brand with its company mission and the values of its core users.

Often times with change or growth an organization can become misaligned with their purpose. This usually the first hazard sign. Asking these questions often can keep your brand successful and safe from a catastrophic end.

-Does our brand image reflect our brand essence (what we stand for)?

-Are we conveying this belief system out into the world visually, verbally, and actionably?

-Are we optimally resonating with our biggest fans?

If your answer is anything but “YES”, “ABSOLUTELY”, “100%”, or “NO DOUBT’ then perhaps it’s time to explore a rebranding exercise. That is exactly what Medium did. Although their previous brand was perfectly fine, it was not quite them anymore and they understood that clearly.

We wanted to create a mark that would reference the tradition of print publishing but also feel timeless and fresh in the digital context.

We liked the bright green and three-dimensional forms, but over time, it began to feel too digital and complex — it was difficult to adapt into many contexts, and was a little cryptic for first-time viewers. With a refocus on our core mission of connecting readers and writers at the start of the year, we thought it was the right time to revisit how we, Medium, express ourselves visually.

A brand identity is most powerful when it aligns with deeper meaning. Depending on the organizations goals the results may increased profits or something more visceral like a deeper connection with their target audience. Either way, when a company goes about branding with this kind of purpose that Medium has, the possibilities can be endless.

By Rani Sweis Sep 02, 2017
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