Turnkey brand redesign

Successfully re-branding helped Turnkey raise a $31M series-D round and eventually be acquired by Vacasa for $500M in stock and cash. Here's how we approached the project, the mistakes we made along the way, and some of the project deliverables

CompanyTurnKey Vacation RentalsYear2017My workLed design team (internal and contract), presented to board of directors, worked with content strategists. As an individual contributor: web design, brochure/print design, logo design, video

Problem

Turnkey was well into funding rounds in the $10s of millions and yet had not fully developed its visual brand. Compared with companies of a similar size, Turnkey’s visual presence didn’t convey the elevated experience that it could give guests. Visual design is huge for creating trust and we had lots of opportunities yet to take.

Brief

Turnkey’s pitch to its two key segments were discussed. Guests needed to be educated about what made TurnKey difference – a consistency of experience, with staff always on, with technological flourishes where it made sense to enhance the guest stay (such as keypad entries and tablets for browsing the web).

Owners we wanted to convey that we were a full-service brand – we would do everything, and owners could sit back, enjoy the revenue in the peak season and enjoy the home when the weather was still great but the demand was lower.

A merger of technology, value and experience differentiate Turnkey from other players in the market. We needed to communicate our offering visually in a way that anyone could intuitively understand as an elevated, intentional and trustworthy brand.

Users

Guests and owners were two critical segments.

Heuristics

  • Aesthetically pleasing design – Given the large datasets being searched, it was important to let users know when the system was thinking and what they could expect from a search or a save
  • Communication of trust and experience – The Medicare fraud space had a particular set of terminology
  • Technology forward – Terminology needed precise definitions readily available to the investigative team
  • Differentiated from other brands and offerings in the space – We wanted to lower the amount of information that investigators needed to keep in their head (or on separate notes outside of the system)
  • Branding could cross platforms and mediums with ease – We wanted to lower the amount of information that investigators needed to keep in their head (or on separate notes outside of the system)
  • Consistency was a huge part of making rebranding campaign successful.

Solution overview

Example of before and after branding on the TurnKey website

Branding for web, print and beyond

Mailers were a huge source of marketing success for the business. We made sure to carry the branding over to print mailers, brochures, magazines and more.

Visibility of system status

An important part of our research revealed that owners are motivated by change in the status of an item.

Not only did we use a common email paradigm for calling out new or unread messages, we surfaced the type of change in the main list of cases (“New Comment” or “Status Update”).

Visibility of system status

An important part of our research revealed that owners are motivated by change in the status of an item.

Not only did we use a common email paradigm for calling out new or unread messages, we surfaced the type of change in the main list of cases (“New Comment” or “Status Update”).

We took new photos of our customer-facing service team.

We wanted to represent our field teams in the best light possible. They're the core of our business and the key to making both guests and owners happy.

My process

Formation

  • Create a problem statement
  • Define the project scope
  • Gather the team
  • Understand the true goals of the project

Research + Definition

  • Speak to end users
  • Map the current state
  • Ideation sessions with users, stakeholders and contributors
  • Initial sketches and paper-style prototypes

Iterate and make

  • Validate initial prototypes with end users and stakeholders
  • Evaluate scope and goals taking into account learning
  • Adjust prototypes
  • Reviews with developers as direction solidifies

Launch

  • Design screens with dev specs
  • Create design system
  • Spend time in development environment
  • Design QA as developers complete work
  • Monitor metrics and adjust post launch

How I start to make sense of the mess

(A nod to my favorite IA book of all time. Thank you, Abby Covert)

During formation, we look to create alignment between business goals, user needs, available resources etc.

I’m an obsessive note taker 🙂 Over the years, my note taking style has evolved. As I have meetings with different stakeholders, I use a highly structured format as way of beginning the process of organizing information.

This helps recall, begins the sense-making process, and makes it easy to retrieve information at a later date.

* studies show that taking notes by hand improves recall and using a structure additionally helps.

Research involves lots of conversations with users. We start with the current state - how are things done/goals accomplished right now?

At Turnkey, the onboarding process and maintenance for vacation rentals could be complex and span weeks or months. A customer journey map or service blueprint was an important foundational document to come out of the research phase.

These documents gave us visibility into what people were trying to accomplish, why they wanted it, and how they were achieving it given a resource-constrained environment (IE no app, or poor tooling).

We used data to build profiles of key customer segments.

We cross-referenced various studies to build a profile of our customer segments. As a general approach we looked at the behaviors, needs and profiles of upscale renters and owners.

Better price than a comparable hotel
Free WiFi
Knowing exactly what the property was like
Home-like amenities
Better location
Ability to pay online
Travel with a large party
Hotel-like amenities
Daily cleaning service
24-hour on-site customer support

Factors that would make a non-renter consider a vacation rental. From Phocusrite’s 2016 study “A Market Transformed: Private Accommodations in the U.S.”

A competitive analysis showed how TurnKey could differentiate strongly from other services.

With key fundamentals in place, we started to rework core parts of the TurnKey brand.

This is where I made some key mistakes

Instead of hiring, I tried to do the rebranding design myself

Ultimately, I wasted time by trying to do something outside my specialty

I waited too long before asking for help

I thought that asking for help would imply weakness, rather than show leadership

I got too attached to doing the work myself

My emotions impacted my decision making more than I would have liked

Primacy of user goals

Our main user profile for the owner dashboard is an owner of a vacation rental.

Revenue is a big motivation for a large percentage of owners.

Additionally, being able to create a ‘case’ and assign work to TurnKey is another important task.

I got lucky - hiring well helped this project. The people around me were able to give me direct feedback that my individual work wasn't up to par. We found some trusted freelancers,  and worked closely with them to create a vision of an elevated brand.

We coalesced around the concept of "The smarter way to vacation rental."

The TurnKey visual branding needed to embody "affordable luxury", fun, consistency, and peace of mind.

Every brand faces the problem of consistency in visual assets, voice, and tone. Our solution to this was multifaceted. The first step was to establish flexible rules for images, color, logo, type, layout, voice, and tone. Each of these areas were addressed in our brand book, which laid out guidelines for brand communicators.

With the core concept and visual language established, we expanded the vision with brand assets and a brand book

A centralized Sketch brand library helped to improve our team's design velocity as we moved into the day to day work of rebranding the company.

Using Illustrator and Sketch's "Library" feature, we were able to give designers fast, flexible access to brand elements and maintain a centralized asset repository that would allow us to keep our brand up-to-date across past and future design files.

After an initial launch, we continued to work on parts of the brand that hadn't yet been updated.

We built a company slide deck to help communicate the look of the new brand

I wanted our new brand palette to extend even to our analytics team: so we created downloadable MS Office swatches

MS Word and MS Excel documents don't usually get brand attention. We created swatches for MS Office and instructions to follow for getting access to brand palettes.

Internal documents like operating manuals and training guides received branded updates

We made animated introductions for product and marketing videos.

Rebrand project helped company be acquired by industry leader

CompanyTurnKey Vacation RentalsYear2017My workLed design team (internal and contract), presented to board of directors, worked with content strategists. As an individual contributor: web design, brochure/print design, logo design, video

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