FreshBooks gets a fresh new look

Who: FreshBooks, OstrichCo for creative and media, Untitled Films for production (with Mark Gilbert directing), Atlanta design shop Son & Sons for brand identity.

What: A new brand identity and the first large-scale, integrated branding campaign for the Toronto-based firm, which provides accounting based software for small businesses.

When & Where: The new logo was revealed Tuesday (Oct. 13) along with advertising running digitally and on social in Canada, the U.S. and U.K.

Why: FreshBooks hadn’t really updated its brand image since launching 15 years ago. It wanted a new brand and communications to represent its brand purpose of helping small business customers on their own growth journey. “FreshBooks is focused on expanding its operations and business reach,” said Paul Cowan, chief marketing officer at FreshBooks. “To accomplish this, we’ve diversified our marketing efforts beyond performance channels. We have a platform that business owners love working with and with this campaign we are telling more of that story.”

How—the logo: A blog post on the FreshBooks site detailed the shortcomings of the previous logo.

The new branding retains some elements of the original, but redesigned with “simplicity, professionalism, and approachability in mind.”

It retains the leaf that was so prominent in the original, but now it’s part of a stylized “F” inside another blue leaf and is intended to drive brand recognition on its own, even away from the full name. The nameplate meanwhile, retained a quirky “S” that the company described as “a deliberate effort to demonstrate approachability by showing that nobody is perfect.”

How—the advertising: The “Not Alone” advertising platform shows small business owners struggling with some of the common anxieties and stresses felt by their colleagues and, of course, how FreshBook can help. “The key insight of isolation and feeling alone came out of direct conversations with real small business owners,” said Patrick Scissons, OstrichCo founder and CEO/CCO. “It was all about FreshBooks truly understanding what a small business owner feels, but framing it in a way that leaves them feeling hopeful about the challenges and the path to success.”

The use of humour: The client didn’t originally ask for humour, said Scissons. “But we found that offering truth and levity was something small business owners were really receptive to, especially after a busy work day. We aren’t limiting the sandbox though; new work within the ‘Not Alone’ campaign platform may have a different tone or approach.”

Timing: Ostrich started working on the brand positioning early this year and the campaign was complete by mid-March, but the company delayed going to market because of the pandemic. “They made the right decision to put all focus on their customer support and product/feature releases so that small businesses were as well-equipped as possible to deal with these challenging times ahead,” said Scissons.

And we quote: “A logo alone does not make a brand. A brand is built around the experiences a company creates: How it treats its customers, suppliers, and partners and the people it hires. Your purpose is only as good as how well you live it” —Paul Cowan, chief marketing officer, FreshBooks



David Brown