Sum thoughts on our brand.

April 30, 2024
2 Minutes

Day one at what was then called ‘Local Carbon’ a little over 12 months ago, we set ourselves a pretty audacious goal to rename the company and overhaul the visual identity. It’s worth noting, the current name had served the company well, gaining traction with amazing customers and leading to a successful pre-seed raise. But we firmly believed that companies would be accounting for a lot more than dollars and cents in the future, and that would extend well beyond carbon. This was just the beginning. We needed a new visual identity and a name that would speak to our mission and vision, resonating with customers and holding space for everything we imagine Sumday will become.

The audacious part? Not only would we attempt to develop a new name and visual identity (which as most would know is a task in itself) but we’d wrap it all up in four weeks time. This was the challenge we set for ourselves in week 1 (talk about a quick onboarding).

From the outside, and probably for a few of us internally, it might have seemed like a rushed decision. We never wanted to undermine the process and time required to create a meaningful brand narrative, but we did want to see how far we could push things without being too precious.

We were building an MVP, but for our brand. Rather than focus on a beautifully crafted brand case-study (although i’ll admit there are poster mockups still floating around), I focused on the bare minimum we would need to carve out in order to own our space in the market and connect with the customers and community we wanted to build.

Constraints can be a beautiful thing. Time, being the most pressing one, pushed me to learn quickly about what made this team and therefore this company really tick.

Day five, (the company Christmas party mind you) it became pretty obvious. I got a run down on what we actually do here from the epitome of data and accounting nerds, Toby. He took me through every cell in his spreadsheets, the ones that had originally formed the basis of Local Carbon. It was clear that across the accounting team, there was an unyielding passion for excel…this was my introduction and the end to week 1.

Our visual identity, albeit it a fairly pared back one, would draw inspiration from what our accounting customers lived and breathed and from the files the company started out with.

From this fell our creative idea; Every cell matters. It established this beautiful link between the meticulous nature of accountants and the importance of properly measuring and reducing our impact. It also spoke to the second wave of the product as well, touching on nature and biodiversity.

An early concept (I told you there were poster mockups)

We had a creative idea, rough look and feel, but we didn’t have a name. Ideally it would be memorable, speak to our vision, not already be taken and be ripe for puns. I’ll skip past the lengthy back and forth on the hundreds of mostly cringe worthy options, to a mid-morning slack chat where we finally landed on a name that ticked all and not just sum of the boxes.

Two days later, we had pulled the key pieces together.

What started as a challenge to ourselves over a year ago has set the tone for how we’ve approached design at Sumday. Can we improve on yesterday. A nice parallel for how we might measure and reduce our impact, but i’ll leave those thoughts to more capable minds in the Sumday team.

I’m the first to admit that we still have a long way to go in making all parts of the brand ‘perfect’, if such a destination exists. But building a brand, much like building a product, is not a linear process. We’ll continue to navigate the peaks, plateaus and troughs hoping that we improve on where we were yesterday.

As designers I think we often fixate on the destination rather than the journey. That destination being a perfectly polished case study, primed for awards and high fives from our peers. With Sumday I’m far more focused on the journey. Being ok with things changing, breaking and updating. Listening to feedback, talking to users and taking a breath to celebrate our wins. Billboard mockups, awards and designer high fives may come, but for now I’d much rather a high five from a user or from a team member on slack. After all, I’m building a brand for them.

The entire process is a great example of what can be achieved when design has a seat at the table. Not seeing design as decoration, but as a discipline that can help carve a path towards delivering on our mission, has paid dividends already.

As Sumday grows, so will our internal design team and pool of external collaborators. I’m beyond excited to lead how the Sumday brand continues to come to life, puns and all.

Creative Director at Sumday