Rebranded & Refreshed
Dear Climate Community!
This post is important to us. But it’s also kinda long. So if you’re short on time here’s TL;DR:
- We decided to refresh our visual identity and get a cooler website as the old felt clunky;
- We ran a structured “beauty contest” to find the best service providers;
- We hired awesome partners — design agency DDB and developers NFQ to help us execute;
- “Straight Talker and Real Doer” best summarises what our visual identity means;
- We are excited to share the result.
Hopefully, you got hooked. So please read on to better understand the reasons behind this major facelift and to discover the process that we undertook.
In Need of Refresh
Over the last 6+ months, the whole Contrarian Ventures team was busy, to say the least. We’ve been investing in new startups, working closely with 16 existing portfolio companies, have successfully launched Climate50, have been preparing for the annual Energy Tech Summit 2021, been courting and evaluating companies for Energy Tech Challengers 2021 startup competition, and dealing with pandemic disruptions (almost 100% of our team members have now had Covid-19; one of the metrics that we are definitely not proud of but luckily everyone’s safe and healthy now) on a daily basis. Whilst doing all of this, we thought we might spend just a bit of our time thinking about a rebranding exercise. This “bit” has now resulted in more than half a year of discussions, iterations, whiteboard sessions, and general soul-searching 🙂
We are excited and happy about what we’ve managed to create with our great agency partners — DDB (Doyle Dane Bernbach) and website/mobile developers — NFQ. A bunch of other parties have contributed with ideas, harsh criticism, and suggestions — entrepreneurs, peers from other VC funds, LPs, and our great portfolio companies. So thank you all! And our sincere apologies for DDB and NFQ teams — we know we can be very painful and picky 😉
In this post, we want to do a few things. First, share our rebranding process together with exercises that we’ve done. Second, talk about what the new “skin” of Contrarian Ventures means to us and what message we want to signal to the wider community.
The Beauty Contest
So, how it all started. What really triggered the process was the realisation that given how much we’ve grown as a fund and a platform since launching and with a plethora of new initiatives that we’ve created under Contrarian Ventures, our overall visual identity has become pretty outdated and disconnected internally (between initiatives) and externally. Once we’ve decided we want to do this, we did a few things:
- Engaged our freelance designer friend who has done this multiple times before to guide us through the process and connect us to the right agencies/developers;
- Put together a design brief and sent it to 10 pre-selected agencies and asked for their proposals; 📃
- Received 5 concrete proposals with a number of agencies not wanting to participate in a “beauty contest”. Some proposals were disappointing and not thought through well enough. Some were insightful but the pricing range was more suited for Procter & Gamble than a small, up-and-coming VC firm 🤑
- Selected DDB to lead this process for us. We were blown away by the amount of work they’ve put into our proposal, the understanding that they’ve quickly acquired about the global VC industry, our direct and indirect competitors, and the whole sustainable energy transition theme. A clear winner. 🏆
Trust the Process
Some things / thoughts from the proposals that resonated with us and inspired our further thinking.
Majority (not all!) of the VC funds look the same, use similar colours, same voice, and tone, even use the same phrases. What this means to us is that being different and bold is seen in the industry as too risky from GPs perspective.
We don’t want to be like that. When everyone is patting each other on the back — we want to be the sober voice that is more genuine. We are okay not to be liked and praised by everyone. Just being ourselves.
One interesting exercise we’ve done at the very beginning of the process was compiling a survey and sending it to all of our portfolio companies. It was highly anonymised as the questions were about us. Your brand is what customers say about your company when you leave the room so it’s important to us. A few examples of the questions:
- What specific qualities attracted you to Contrarian Ventures?
- What are the three words that best describe Contrarian Ventures?
- What is your idea of an ideal VC?
It was a very powerful exercise. It’s extremely sobering to hear an uncensored version of what people that you are working with so closely really think about you and what value you are able to add to them. Some of the answers made us feel good about the work we have done and some were a strong kick in the ass. We gladly take both of them and get to work 🙂
Facelift Delivered 💄
So, fast forward a couple of months, we are happy to share an updated face of Contrarian Ventures.
The best way that the whole idea/concept/identity can be summarised is this: “Straight Talker and Real Doer”. We want to be offering a sobering view on how to approach both investing and sustainability. It may feel counterintuitive, it challenges herd mentality, it may even seem cocky, yet it is the voice of reason that just makes sense. No bullshit allowed.
A pretty good proof of the “let’s get things done” mindset comes from our initiatives to build a platform that will help to increase the success of solutions for sustainable energy transition (Energy Tech Summit, Climate 50, Energy Tech Challengers, Bye Fossil Fuels). This whole “package” is of tremendous value not only to our portfolio companies but to all the climate-conscious community members including corporates, GPs, LPs, and policy shapers.
At the very front of the landing page, you will see this mindless persona:
We have created a mascot, a persona without the head, to portray pure ignorance in climate change. We call them mindless characters. On top of that, we have also created a persona with a head, to portray the world’s leaders that are conscious and are building businesses or investing capital into technology to reverse climate change. We call them mindful characters.
There is 1% of the population that takes climate change seriously and acts accordingly, however, 99% are still in denial. Bold actions are needed to change this and we believe our new branding represents this.
So, enough from us. Please go check out our new website and let us know what you think. And please, be honest about it!
About Contrarian Ventures:
We are a hands-on, community-focused and founders vetted early-stage sustainable energy transition focused VC in Europe & Israel.
Aside from the core activity of the Fund — investing, Contrarian Ventures has also founded several initiatives that are contributing to the fostering of the energy community in Europe incl. Climate50, Energy Tech Summit, and Energy Tech Challengers.
Learn more about us here.