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How Braintrust Rebranded in 4 Months With a Team of Freelancers and $75k.

Barbara Mighdoll
Barbara Mighdoll

VP of Marketing

Since the most recent Founders Update, we had several companies reach out and ask about the Braintrust rebrand and more specifically–how it was pulled off so quickly and with such a small budget. (These kinds of projects can easily cost five times as much and take twice as long.) 

As a team, we’re committed to building in public, which is why we’re giving an open look into how we rebranded Braintrust, the first user-owned talent network, and launched a new website in just four months with two full-time employees, a global team of freelancers, and a budget of $75,000. 

I’ve split this article up into two sections. In the first section, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look into the creative process through the eyes of some of the Braintrust Core Team and Braintrust Talent who made it all possible. In the second section, I’ll show you the timeline and process we followed to get it all done in four months. 

Our hope is that this article can be a resource for you going forward, whether you’re about to launch a rebrand of your own or want to utilize the Braintrust platform to scale up your remote team. 

PART 1: THE CREATIVE PROCESS.

The Visionary.

Gabriel Luna-Ostaseski

Braintrust Co-founder & CRO

“Our last website and brand were envisioned in 2018 when Braintrust was just a concept and a PowerPoint deck. While some of the components like our symbol and name have endured time and the thousands of iterations of a startup, others did not. For example, our color palette, imagery, and iconography started to feel too homogenous with other Silicon Valley startups. One thing that's always guided me in brand-building is to be different and remarkable. Most importantly the brand didn't represent the level of maturity that we had achieved as a platform. We were now serving some of the world's most innovative companies like Porsche, NASA, and Nestlé but our messaging and brand didn't really reflect this. Our goal was to edit, simplify, and elevate the brand. To strip out the things that had been added on over the early months of our business and refresh things to represent where we are today and where we're going.” 

 

The Designer. 

Chris Allen

Braintrust Talent, Designer 

“My goal was to leverage the existing logo and update the design language to reflect Braintrust’s emphasis on transparency, clarity, simplicity, and ease of use. Across countless Zoom meetings, our team of both freelancers and Braintrust employees found a good rhythm for the fast-paced and highly collaborative process. We started by reworking both the visual identity and website in parallel to ensure the updated brand was best reflected in the company’s most prominent touchpoint. Color, typography, and photography were the key components of building out the new design language. The soft, bright color palette emphasizes Braintrust’s warmth and optimism. Strong hierarchy and restrained use of typographic styles help achieve clarity and consistency across the website and other brand materials. Newly sourced photography reflects the varied work environments of Braintrust talent around the world.”

 

The Writer.

Cody Fisher 

Braintrust Talent, Copywriter 

“Going into this rebrand, we didn’t just want to remove all the copy that was no longer relevant, we wanted to simplify and clarify Braintrust’s messaging so that their website could generate new leads, onboard more talent, and win over more of the world’s leading enterprises. We started by updating Braintrust’s Marketing Matrix which included their Brand Promise, Brand Story, Value Props, Positioning Statement, and other key pieces of collateral. Then we began to rewrite the copy and develop new content and layouts for each page on the website, starting with the homepage. It was important for us to create a new narrative for Braintrust–one that made the enterprise and talent the hero of the story while positioning Braintrust as the Guide. By doing that, we were able to create a more empathetic brand that didn’t focus as much on Braintrust’s features as it did the ways it can help others survive and thrive, both as individuals and enterprises.”

 

The Project Manager.

Martijn van Dooren, WX Agency

Braintrust Talent, Project Manager & Team Lead Development 

“My job was to make sure that everyone involved was working on the right task at the right time. To accomplish that, we broke up the process into four parts: Learn, Plan, Build, and Iterate. It started with learning from the old website and deciding what we could take into the second iteration. Then we created a 3-month plan to help us executive and deliver on time. Next, we put together the development and QA team, and finally, we made sure all the stakeholders had a say when it came to the design, messaging, and development. This four-step process helped us make the most out of our weekly sprints and reach deadlines we wouldn’t have been able to meet otherwise.” 

 

The Marketing Operations Expert.

Melvin Heinsius, WX Agency 

Braintrust Talent, Marketing Operations

“My job was to collect and analyze data to help guide the website decision-making process. Our end goal wasn’t just to create an aesthetically pleasing website–it was to improve the user experience and website conversion rate by making it easy for enterprises and talent to find what they’re looking for. We had been running growth experiments and A/B tests leading up to the rebrand. These experiments gave us insight into what was working and what wasn’t. We used various tools, such as heatmaps, to collect data and better understand how Braintrust’s users were using the website. Once we analyzed the data, we shared recommendations using reports and annotated screenshots that centered on the customer journey, site navigation, page structure, etc. Then during our weekly meetings, all the stakeholders put their heads together to share their own ideas and feedback.” 

 

The Brand Marketer.

Kat Cooper

Brand Marketing Manager, Braintrust

"We had a lot planned to share the news of our beautiful new look, and it was extremely important for us to ensure everything we were pushing out was QA’ed for brand consistency. Thanks to Chris, we had a thorough Brand Guide to reference for design quality so all we had to worry about was asset iteration.

We focused first on creating reusable templates in Figma for social share images, email banners, blog banners, LinkedIn profile banners for our team members, social icons, and much more. With the help of Chris and another wonderful designer Ashmita, we were able to quickly create a complete library of on-brand assets for launch to distribute to our team and across all our channels. We also put together a list of all the external assets we needed to update on launch day to reflect our new brand. Thanks to all this, we were totally prepared for launch day."

 

And from my perspective, I worked with Gabe and the broader assembled team to expand the brand style guide, improve page designs, and structure the user experience. The old look wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t refined, differentiated, or representative of Braintrust’s human-first culture. We needed a platform that could bring Braintrust to life and simplify “why Braintrust” while allowing us to share news, highlight talent and enterprises, and explain our mission. I also wanted Braintrust to make some noise about the rebrand, so we put together a marketing campaign to draw attention to it. It had been a while since the founders spoke openly about the growth, successes, and challenges of building Braintrust, so we took this opportunity to share progress. We did our first ever LinkedIn Live (we now plan to do these regularly), published a blog post, and got the community involved in spreading the word.

 

PART 2: HOW WE BUILT IT.

 

Weeks 1-2: Strategize, Assemble, and Scope.

We started the rebranding process by outlining our strategic objectives. In order for us to live out our mission of building the world's most impactful talent network, we needed to make sure our rebrand helped us: 

  • Clarify our brand mission, vision, and values
  • Differentiate the Braintrust brand from our competitors 
  • Create a cohesive visual identity that could carry us into the future
  • Improve the user experience so that we can onboard more enterprises and talent 

Once we were clear on our objectives, we started to look at what was currently working with our brand and what wasn’t. We started this process with WX Agency by running growth experiments and A/B tests that could give us the data we were looking for. 

From there, we were easily able to identify the skills gaps we needed to fill: 

  • There are a ton of moving parts in a rebrand and website launch. We needed someone who could structure timelines and hold everyone accountable. 
  • We needed a creative visionary to take our visual ideas and turn them into reality. 
  • We needed to rewrite every word on every page of the site so that it clearly represented who we are as a company today. 
  • And when the time came to launch, we needed help making some noise with creative assets, blog posts, videos, and updates to get the word out. 

Now we were ready to build the dream team. 

Because of the Braintrust model, we knew we could source talent on our own platform and spend 3-4x less than if we went with an outside marketing agency that marked up talent rates, kept the profit, and paid the actual workers less than they deserved for their skilled talents. 

But our budget wasn’t the only reason we wanted to use our own platform. We’re building the future of work, and by leveraging Talent on Braintrust – we could assemble a remote team to launch this project faster, cheaper, and better than we could by hiring any other way. 

It was time to eat our own dog food. 

The Braintrust platform allowed us to simplify onboarding, invoicing, and compliance. And by rewarding talent with incentives like the BTRUST token, each member of our team was able to take part in helping shape the future of the Braintrust platform. 

 

Week 3-4: Develop our Brand & Writing Style. 

At this point, the visual design had gone through so many small evolutions that it was hard to know what was still original, or even what it was evolving towards. 

Some of the early hand-drawn elements we had on our first website were fun conceptually but practically speaking, it was difficult to keep that up on all of our various platforms. Our color palette needed to be updated so that it was more modern and distinct - goodbye Silicon Valley blue. And we needed a visual brand that stood out from all the other tech startups, especially when it came to our website. 

Similar to our visual brand, our messaging had undergone thousands of iterations over the past two years. Our copywriter and brand strategist worked with us to update our messaging so that it better aligned with who we were and then created a messaging framework for all of our content going forward. 

The process we followed to do that was based on the StoryBrand Framework, which allowed us to: 

  • Center our core message around the aspirational identities of the enterprise leaders and talent who were using our platform.
  • Gain a better understanding of who our clients and talent were and what they wanted out of Braintrust. 
  • Identify the source of the problems we wanted to help enterprises and talent avoid. i.e. old-school hiring methods, greedy agencies, minimal fees, etc.  
  • Focus on core ways Braintrust needed to position itself as a Guide in order to help them overcome those problems. 
  • Create process plans at every level of our company so there’s a clear understanding of what the calls to action are. 
  • Develop effective lead generation methods so that our website could be a 24/7 sales machine. 
  • Show the positive changes talent and enterprises will experience once they use our platform (as well as the ways it can help them avoid failure). 

Once we had had our visual design and messaging down, we were ready to move ahead. 

Braintrust_BrandGuide_ShorterThe new Braintrust brand guidelines.

Weeks 5-10: Write. Design. Develop. Repeat.

To pull off a re-brand in four months, we had to do most of our work asynchronously. 

While our designer was developing visual concepts for one page, our copywriter was writing the content for three more. While that was happening, our developer was building out the pages that were just approved. 

 

Weeks 11-12: Bring it All Together.

To launch a new brand and website in just four months, we needed to make each sprint count. Here were the platforms and online tools we used as a team to pull it off: 

  1. Zoom: No surprise here. Our team met on Zoom for weekly standup meetings where we reviewed content and designs in real-time, planned our next sprint, and addressed any blockers.
  2. Google Workspace: Having a doc or slide where multiple users were creating or editing content simultaneously was a common practice. We used Google Workspace to do everything from edit website copy to track hours to manage our weekly sprints.
  3. Adobe Creative Cloud: Once the website copy was drafted in Google Docs we would move the design process over to Adobe Illustrator and then into PDFs where we would make comments and request edits in real-time. 
  4. Asana: To streamline the many different moving parts of this process, we turned to the project management tool Asana. With this tool, we were able to keep track of roles and responsibilities, keep timelines transparent, and centralize our communications.

    Example of our Asana project.

  5. Figma: We used Figma to create and centralize on-brand templates for all the marketing assets we used to promote the new brand look, including social media shares, email banners, LinkedIn team banners, etc.
    Screen Shot 2021-04-14 at 10.02.36 AM
    A peek at some of our Figma templates.

 

Week 13: Create the Launch Plan. 

We knew this rebrand would last us a while which is why we wanted to take full advantage of it by using it as an opportunity to engage and grow our community of Talent and enterprises. 

We decided that we could make the biggest impact by unveiling the brand and website during a Founders Update since it had been several months since they’d given a public update on progress and growth of Braintrust. To coincide with that update, we began to put together other key pieces of marketing collateral which included blog posts, email campaigns, social media content, and more. 

It was important for us to get everybody involved in our Launch Plan so we also reached out to the network to help us promote the “big surprise” that was going to be unveiled during our Founders Update. 

 

Weeks 14-15: Prepare for Launch.

Our launch was just a few days away now. 

The site was roughly 98% complete at this point–outside of some new case studies and blog content that we had planned to roll out post-launch. 

Now it was time to see if it flew. Our web project manager launched an initial feedback stage first which allowed us to review the website from a UX perspective. 

We installed a tool called Userback and connected it to Google Sheets, where we could access privately-staged versions of all the pages on our new website. Then with the handy feedback tools available in Userback, we took screenshots, made comments, and annotated all of our notes in real-time for a thorough QA process. 

I lost count but I think within the first couple of days, we had more than 300 edits that our development team worked around the clock to address. That’s one benefit of working with a remote team in multiple time zones–you really can have a 24-hour workday. 

Once we wrapped up the content staging feedback, we prepped for launch. 

 

Week 16: Flip the Switch.

We went live early in the morning on launch day, and we expanded the feedback loop to the entire core team. We all spent the morning QA-ing the website and leaving any final feedback for small items we may have missed. 

At last, the new Braintrust website and the visual brand were finally in place, and we couldn’t wait to share it 

We started to amp up all of our communication channels, letting our network know that something exciting was being announced. The truth was, we had so many things to celebrate: 

  • Over 1,000 vetted and approved freelancers across 100 countries were now on the Braintrust platform (with another 52,000 waiting in line).
  • Enterprises like Porsche, Nestlé, Coursera, Stanley Black & Decker, Nextdoor, TaskRabbit, and so many more were all sourcing talent on Braintrust. 
  • The average project size was now $57,000, compared to short-term gig work marketplaces with $600 for an average project.

To give ourselves the space we needed to celebrate these key milestones and to meet our talent and enterprise leaders right where they were at, we decided to host our Founders Update on LinkedIn Live and follow it up with a blog post that highlighted the key milestones. Screen Shot 2021-03-03 at 1.44.59 PMBraintrust founders Adam Jackson and Gabe Luna-Ostaseski during their LinkedIn Live session.

We also sent emails about the announcement, posted on our social channels, shared it with our Talent Community, and did just about everything we could think of to spread the news. 

 

The Results.

It’s difficult to sum up the results from something so large and all-encompassing as a rebrand, but here are some immediate results we can highlight from the launch. 

  • The day we launched our new website resulted in the third-largest spike in website traffic, followed only by our out of stealth announcement and our strategic funding round. 
  • Our blog announcing the rebrand became the second most viewed blog in Braintrust history. 
  • As of today, our LinkedIn Live announcement has received over 2,000 views, 5,000 impressions (vs. our average of 600 per post), 100 reactions, and 30 shares for an overall engagement rate of 6%. 

 

Final thoughts.

We’re so proud of how the rebrand turned out and we want everyone to hear about it. We also want to hear from you! 

We really mean it, feel free to drop a note at hello@usebraintrust.com and let us know what you think.

Our rebrand may be over but this is just the beginning. 

Now the network will continue to manage it, monitor it, and adapt the new brand and website so that it can respond to any product or market changes as they come up. And yes, the Talent on Braintrust will continue to make that happen. 

There are now 100 different people from at least a dozen different countries who have contributed to the Braintrust platform. 

It’s no exaggeration to say that Braintrust wouldn’t be here without them. 

With that in mind, let me introduce you to the team of freelancers we used to pull all this off in just four months. 

  • Development, Marketing Ops, Project Management: Martijn van Dooren & Melvin Heinsius at WX Agency
  • Creative Director: Chris Allen
  • Copywriter: Cody Fisher
  • Editorial Writer & LinkedIn Live Producer: John Koetsier
  • Marketing Designer: Ashmita Nair

If you’ve enjoyed the new Braintrust experience, this team highlights some of the contributors behind it. 

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