When include launched our public job board in January, we wanted to create a brand representative of the level of diversity and accessibility we aspire to create in the world of tech. Like most startups, we don’t have a huge in-house creative team or access to a creative agency to do this, so we had to find our own way through.
When creating our beta site last year, we used images from our sister company Lesbians Who Tech with a mix of stock imagery, but we found that the diversity issues present in stock photography kept us from being able to represent our brand in a way that aligned with our values. We began looking at different ways to present our brand as the nature of work began to change when the US locked down for the Covid 19 pandemic.
Developing brand guidelines are always a tricky process, and the basis of any visual brand is the colors used to communicate. Amaranth has been associated with the include brand from its inception, so we wanted to build a color palette that used that as a foundation.
We considered many color combinations, but to serve our mission, WCAG compliance was a primary concern. Though we liked many of the palettes we came up with, the mix of Amaranth, Blue Steel and Maastricht Blue became our basic visual language. Diversity and inclusion spans more than race and gender — people with disabilities need to be able to find jobs on our site as well. The accessibility improvements we made in our rebrand will be extended throughout our site in coming months to ensure an equitable user experience for all.
As mentioned, these were a few of the other color palettes we came up with:
With stock photography off the table, we had to find imagery to match our newly updated design. We decided to go with drawing — allowing for more interpretation from the viewer, and allowing us to be illustrative without directly representative of our users.
Like so many product teams before us, we turned to the indomitable Pablo Stanley for help. His Open Peeps project — a hand-drawn sketch library of mix-and-match illustrations — gave us the framework and the freedom we needed to represent the diversity of skin tones, body shapes, hair colors, hair textures, physical ability ...the list goes on. Open Peeps was just the thing we needed to get our product done in time for Pride. Once we integrated our brand colors with the basic Open Peeps design elements we were finally able to represent include with a unique vision.
We originally planned to reveal the new design on June 2nd, however, the end of May changed the conversation around diversity and inclusion in ways we were unable to anticipate. After a series of unjust events against Black Americans which had an incalculable impact on the emotional capacity of our employees, especially our Black employees, we closed our offices on June 1st and 2nd to allow team members to focus their energies where they felt they were most needed and pushed back the announcement.
When we came back to our rebrand a few things changed — first, we switched from using monochromatic designs to ones with the full spectrum of skin colors and we added a little variety to the noses to be more representative of all the different shapes and sizes. Because products should represent not only the diversity of everybody, but also the diversity of every face.
Second, our first official email as a relaunched brand was a statement in solidarity with the Black community.
Updating a website can be a bit anticlimactic — if nothing happens, you've done your job correctly. After launching the redesigned site on the 4th and announcing the changes to our community at large on the 9th, we began discussing changes we could make to the product itself to live our mission and help address the racial injustice happening in our society. Our sister company Lesbians Who Tech uses quotas to determine the composition of its conference speakers: 60% women, 50% people of color, 25% Black & Latinx, and 10% transgender and gender non-conforming. We intend to adopt similar standards for representation on include. There are some other exciting initiatives we will be announcing to serve our community and we will be rolling those out in coming weeks and months.