Inside Ownr’s New Brand: What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Our Designers

You may have noticed our recent makeover—we’re pretty proud of our new look and we’re so excited we get to finally share it with you. We sat down with Daniel Kaplan and Jess Atkinson, the creative director and lead designer on the project, respectively. They talked to us about colours, fonts, logos, and why simple is often best. See what they had to say about Ownr’s new brand and what advice they have for entrepreneurs working on their own brand.

Ownr: Tell us about the new branding.

Daniel and Jess: We initially started to update the look and feel of the brand for Ownr before they acquired Founded. When the Founded team joined, it was important to us to create a visual identity that we collectively felt represented entrepreneurs. Two teams merging with different experiences and ideas of what the brand should evoke can be challenging to balance.

The original Ownr brand was done in a few days and since then, the team had taken the time to think about who they were as a company and where they were headed. Having gone through that exercise, it seemed like a good time to invest in refreshing the look to reflect this work. The original branding used a dominant orange colour. It didn’t have a symbol other than the wordmark and relied on a variety of stock photography. It also used a lot of gradients which are difficult to apply and felt outdated.

Let’s talk about the new logo. Where did the symbol come from?

Our challenge was that we wanted the logo to represent a few things: upward growth (which comes through in the triangle), the coming together of multiple business needs, and simplicity or ease of use.

We spent a lot of time figuring out what the icon or symbol would be for the brand. We brought in four different designers to explore the symbol, and they went in all different directions. The challenge was to create something that was both simple yet ownable.

Various iterations of Ownr’s symbol during the design process.

It’s important that our logo is recognizable, as well as that it can be applied in different sizes and use cases, for example as social icons on mobile devices or in print materials. A good logo is one you can draw in the sand.

The final badge consists of three segments that balance or stack on one another. Inside the logo, you’ll notice a triangle that’s pointing up. It was important that it represented an upward trajectory because when you join Ownr as a user you’re looking to build a business and ultimately grow that business.

Another important aspect was the concept of building blocks. Ownr essentially brings together all the different pieces you need to build a business, the building blocks so to speak. The three segments of the badge mirror the three different stages of business: start, manage, and grow.

The segments of the badge are just as significant to the brand as the badge as a whole. Separated, they can also be used as a graphic storytelling device to emphasize the stories of entrepreneurs.

Can you talk about the wordmark?

At Ventures, we typically recommend a typeface called Neue Haas Unica (Ownr is an RBC Ventures company and Daniel and Jess work for the Strategic Design team within RBC Ventures).

The team felt the font needed more personality, so we thickened it up and made the O a perfect circle to add geometry to the wordmark—which better reflected Ownr’s brand personality and created a nice cohesiveness with the geometry of the badge. You could also add that the circular shape echoed the form of the badge, widened out the R so it felt more balanced, and unified the strokes.

Subtle changes to the font helped the wordmark fit the Ownr brand.

The wordmark is midnight purple, which is derived from our primary purple colour, which in some cases can look black. There is no black in the brand, and using this dark purple creates cohesiveness: everything you see feels like it belongs to Ownr. Everything comes from the same source, a branch of the brand.

Tell us more about the new colours:

Purple made the most sense for the brand. Colour psychology states that purple is known for imagination and courage—key traits of many entrepreneurs. It feels serious but energetic, and it also meets contrast accessibility standards.

An exploration of secondary colours was also underway before the Founded acquisition, and once they came on board it really worked well because we weren’t that far apart from their palette, which they really liked.

Ownr’s final colour palette.

It sounds like everyone was aligned on colour. What was the process like for the font?

We wanted to get the font right, so we placed quite a bit of focus on this part.

Most brands in professional services feel like you need a serif font in your headlines, but we wanted something more approachable, more friendly, and more modern. Having a serif font would be too serious and it sort of felt outdated, especially since we’re trying to modernize and simplify an old, complicated, and intimidating industry.

We use Neue Haas Unica as the house brand font so we always start there. We presented 20-30 different fonts in different use cases and scenarios. In the end, we landed back on Unica. A lot of that comes from exposure and time to step away from the old brand and see it in the new context, updating the landing pages and other assets so people can see the font in action.

With a brand like Ownr, we have to display a lot of numerical information, ensure it looks professional on documents, and that it stays very legible regardless of size and scale.

What’s your favourite element of the new branding?

Daniel: I’m personally impressed that we were able to arrive at a logo that was so simple. When you have so many stakeholders, various perspectives from different teams and departments, the result is often an overly complicated design. However, in this case, we landed in a good spot.  

Jess: I like how it all came together. You can break apart the logo and create a graphic language for campaigns and merchandise, play with colour combinations. We were able to bring in more variety for the brand.

What lessons can business owners apply to their own branding?

Look at the brands that you like the most. Find brands that stand out to you and create a collection of those so you get a sense of your taste and your style. Find the commonality. Is it the colour, the shape of the wordmark, or something else?  

Keep it as simple as possible. Simple is most often best, especially for new business owners. As simple a symbol, as simple a colour palette: choose one colour and maybe one accent colour. When you complicate things you might get confused down the road. It makes your job easier in the future.

Also, be open to change and evolve as a logo progresses. Entrepreneurs can get really connected and attached to their very first logo, but think of it as a growing, evolving thing over time—just like your business.