Looking Inward to Move Forward: The VIA Rebrand
Design + Strategy

Looking Inward to Move Forward: The VIA Rebrand


Ben Wilson
Ben Wilson

on 11/12/2020

VIA Studio was founded in 1996 by Kelly McKnight, chasing the promise of the then-nascent Internet. In that moment, VIA Studio were prospectors, explorers of an uncharted territory. Enthusiasm and opportunity abounded, and the work and the partnerships followed. That entrepreneurial spirit sustained the adventure for many years, even outlasting the popped “tech bubble” of the early 2000s.

When Jason Clark joined VIA Studio as a partner in 2003, the business and the industry as a whole were just beyond “the bubble”, and both were on the cusp of failure - or success. Jason saw it as an opportunity, and the way forward was hard work, listening, and learning.

In the years that followed, it wasn’t always easy. VIA had its share of ups and downs as the industry, the technology, and the people who interact with them adapted and changed, while being hurtled along with the pace of progress.

What kept us on an upward trajectory was our commitment to learning and adjusting by asking the tough questions of ourselves and taking feedback from our clients.

The new brand you see before you today is a direct product of that mindset, coupled with years of experience and introspection.

How a Human-Centered Approach Changed Us

Not having a “traditional” agency background has suited VIA Studio well - we’ve never accepted tradition without some sort of real and recent rationale. The end result is that, through constant iteration, we’ve created novel approaches to nearly every aspect of our business.

Beginning in the early 2010s, we began building and adapting processes that focus on the humans doing the work and those interacting with the end result - instead of focusing on the work itself. With that end-to-end, human-centered approach, we’ve developed a methodology that leads to exceptional work and fosters strong partnerships.

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“The VIA team has been consistently exceptional on both sides of the LPM coin: first, a deep understanding of our brands and what makes them work, and second, the ability to translate those attributes into assets and plans that reach our audiences in a compelling way. Also, they're a fine collection of humans.” - Gray Smith Louisville Public Media Director of Corporate Support & Advancement

The net result was easier, more productive partnerships - with organizations of all shapes and sizes. In this past decade, we’ve forged bonds with Fortune 500 companies and nonprofits alike. All with the same result - respectful, mutually beneficial relationships that turn over great work year in and year out.

The brand we re-launched around that time -  “Digital Craftsmen & Communicators” -  was solidly based on that working, crafting, honing attitude. We knew that if we continued with the work, one day we’d be different.

And that day came.

The New VIA Brand

The new brand that you see before you today is a realization - in both meanings of that term. In the last decade, we could see the work we were doing having more impact, the partnerships expanding, and our skillset becoming more sophisticated. We realized something big had changed. And now we had to reflect that in our branding.

To create our new brand, we turned the branding process we’ve built for our clients inward. We had in-depth, searching conversations about who we are and what are our values. These values underpin our brand, and we hope you can see them in every aspect of what we do, both publicly and internally.

As our confidence has grown, we’ve moved from a brand that celebrates our culture to one that celebrates our partnerships of both client and community, and the work that is created from those partnerships.

"One of the things that impressed me when you were getting me up to speed, was that there was a full pitch deck. It was really well thought out, not thrown together in the corners and I grabbed a couple of images and said let's use this for our color pallette. It was super well thought out."
- Carl Smith, Bureau of Digital

Weaving our user-focused strategies with our new brand understanding, we seek to use our platforms more deliberately. We hope you see this in both big and small ways - from how we thoughtfully use each of the many media platforms at our disposal, to the subtle shifts in voice and tone, to how we’ve tuned and prioritized our website to each individual audience.

The root of this confidence is not bravado, but rather in our commitment to having open, transparent conversations. We hope you can see this transparency in not only what we choose to publish in this journal (hi!) but also in the straightforward agreements and communications we have with you as client or employee.

If you are interested in hearing more about our rebranding and website development process, you can watch our hour-long panel discussion “Why Rebrand?”, hosted by the Bureau of Digital’s Carl Smith.

But what drives us? Our introspective nature and processes have always served one thing: creating new, interesting, exciting, valuable, and true work for our clients. The future is why we exist, and its intriguing possibilities drive us to create. You can see this in the dark, mysterious, sometimes impossible backdrop that forms the basis of our brand.

The new VIA Studio brand is perhaps the truest reflection of ourselves and the partnerships we represent. We hope you are as excited and intrigued by it as we are. After all, it’s you - our partners and friends who have driven us and challenged us. And we thank you.

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