Cloudflare TV

Cloudflare's Creative Corner: Featuring Special Guests From the Ironclad Design Team

Presented by Jess Rosenberg, Dylan Welter, Kristy Hudon, Blake Reary, Sara Lin
Originally aired on 

The Creative Corner explores the experiences of creative professionals working within the tech industry. From challenges faced to lessons learned, we will join them on their journey as they share their wisdom as creatives in tech.

Creatives in Tech

Transcript (Beta)

All right. Hi everyone. My name is Jess Rosenberg and I lead the creative and brand design team here at Cloudflare.

Welcome to the Creative Corner on Cloudflare.TV.

This is our first inaugural episode and I'm super excited to have some of our friends from Ironclad joining us today.

So welcome fellow designers from Ironclad.

Dylan Welter is my co-host and today we will be chatting with our friends at Ironclad about their recent rebrand along with Orc design and how their team is structured and what types of processing they undertake to create all the great work they create on the team.

So I'm super excited to have you. Sara, Kristy and Blake, thanks so much for joining us.

If you all want to give a short intro and maybe tell us a little bit more about what you do at Ironclad, that would be awesome.

Sure, yeah I can start.

Hi everyone, I'm Blake Reary. I am the director of design at Ironclad.

I've been at the company for about almost two years now actually. I joined in September of 2018.

The founders are some friends of mine so I've actually been floating around the company basically since they started.

So I've got to see it grow from nothing but now I'm a part of it which is a lot of fun.

I'm really happy to be here.

Hi guys, I'm Kristy and I'm the brand designer here at Ironclad.

I started remotely, very excitingly, around April and I've been with Ironclad ever since.

Hi, I'm Sarah Lin.

I'm a lead product designer in Ironclad. The way I joined was, so previous to Ironclad, I was working for a while for five years, a while in Dropbox and I was really intrigued by working in a product that really have a clear target audience and really built for that target audience.

So I was on the front of Blake's for several years and he taught me about Ironclad and what it does for legal users and I was really intrigued.

So once after my sabbatical I talked to him and yeah and here I am.

I guess funny anecdote is Kristy and I joined on the same day.

So yeah, remote onboarding. Very cool. Yeah, well that's awesome.

Thank you again so much for taking the time to join with us. So I think we can dive right into one of the first points where we're really stoked to talk with you about and that's around your recent rebrand.

So as the creative ops manager here at Cloudflare, I actually use Ironclad and so does the rest of Cloudflare quite a bit and you know we love the product and we love what it does and on top of that we also love what you've done with the rebrand and we'd really like to dive in a little bit into your process behind that rebrand and how you kind of approached that, how you got buy-in and then ultimately how you were able to take it across the finish line to where it stands today.

Yeah, sounds great. I guess I can start from the very beginning which is actually the beginning of Ironclad and not to like go too deep in the history but like I mentioned before, the founders of Ironclad are friends of mine.

I worked with Kai, our CTO at Palantir back in the day and I guess it was in 2015 when Ironclad just started.

They were in my Combinator gearing up for Demo Day and Kai approached me and he's like, Blake, we need a logo.

We need something to like put up on at the presentation at Demo Day.

We I was actually really busy with a different startup at the time but was just, you know, kind of interested in doing like a little side project and so developed Ironclad's initial brand from scratch in like five days.

It was just very very quick, you know, turnaround time but, you know, it just needed something, right?

But it turns out that brand ended up sticking around for I think four years which I'm pretty proud of in that like something I spent five days of work on in my free time lasted that long but at the same time it was really never meant to be the brand that scales.

It was something to kind of, you know, get investors excited, right?

And so that's kind of where the whole rebrand effort started was that we knew we had something that was good but it wasn't going to scale with the company and the company was just beginning to kind of really grow quite a bit.

Just to put into perspective when I joined the company was 40 people and like a year later I think we were like 120, something like that.

So we grew quite a bit this year.

So that was the impetus for the rebrand and then from there we just kind of decided exactly what we like what approach we wanted to take.

I think in the early days of Ironclad the competitive landscape was a little less clear.

Over the years it became more clear who we were up against and also who are, you know, kind of our buyers were, who the personas are that we are targeting.

And so that was really the kind of first step we took was really synthesizing all that knowledge and like gathering it together and taking a look at where our brand was performing and where it wasn't performing.

So from there, let's see, it's also worth mentioning I had a really great partner in crime with our CMO Joyce Solano.

She had just joined. She actually has a background in brand agency work.

So she was pretty well connected into the agency world and what we did first, the two of us, was we developed our brand platform.

So Ironclad didn't really have a brand platform.

It was just literally just, you know, a bunch of people with really great values collected together and a logo and some colors and some random illustrations on a website.

So like how do you take that and like make a strategy?

And so the first thing we did was work with a writer to help us really define like what is our North Star?

What is our messaging? What are the pillars that guide us as a brand?

And so we actually spent the first couple months just doing that, working with all the executives at the company and this writer to really draft the story and the words that describe our brand.

It was then that we realized that we weren't gonna be able to pull this off in -house completely and it was a good thing that we decided that pretty early.

I think when I joined, having done brand work myself before, I was like, yeah, I'm totally down to kind of like take a stab at this and get a couple people together and work on it.

But I think just with the growth of business and all the things we knew we needed to do, it became readily apparent that we needed to work with an agency.

So from there, we kicked off the search for an agency. I think it took about a month and a half to land our agency.

We ended up going with a small studio in San Francisco called Century.

It's two designers formerly from Otopod, I believe.

I think that's where they're from. And yeah, I mean, we talked to lots of different people, but really what we kind of landed on was just shared values, shared tastes, and kind of like convenience things like the fact that they were about a mile away from our office versus working with an agency that's in New York or Portland or something else.

That was just like a huge benefit to be able to do these quick turnaround times.

Something I should also mention was that we wanted to do this in five or six months.

So that was the turnaround time for the rebrand.

Luckily, because the company was relatively young, there wasn't a whole lot of surface area to kind of really change up.

There was a lot of green field stuff, but we focused on the website.

So we said, well, what can we reasonably do in five months?

Probably just a very minimal website. So I think by setting like a really tangible goal, that gave us the confidence to be able to narrow down the process to five months and be able to get what we got done.

And did you finish it in five months?

It was close to that. Yeah, let's see. I think we kicked off in April and then launched a very first V1 of the brand in September and then like the fuller version of that a month later.

So yeah, we were able to stick to it.

That is impressive. It was not easy, but it was a lot of fun. I think on a personal level, it was very interesting for me because I was also planning a wedding that just so happened to coincide with the brand launch date by a week.

So two major rebrands, one on my life. Making any last decisions? What's that?

What came first, the launch of the rebrand or your wedding?

My wedding was the Saturday before, I think the next Friday was when we launched the website.

The first version of the website.

Yeah, it was a time. With such a quick turnaround time that you were shooting for, how holistic was your approach between just the brand and also the product behind it?

I know you mentioned targeting kind of priority brand elements like the website.

What did you do from a planning perspective around, you know, extrapolating that brand into the product as well?

Yeah, for sure. And since y'all are Ironclad users, you probably know this pretty well, but the product is pretty minimal, right?

Relatively like kind of just like lots of white space using the system fonts.

There isn't a lot of brand expression happening in the product.

And so really the goal was what can we do to like somewhat align like our product and our brand initially with the expectation over time we would be baking more of the brand into the product.

And we're still going through that. We're still working on introducing some of the new color palette into the product.

We're still working on bringing kind of moments of like brand moments like illustrations and little things, you know, little details into the product.

So really the goal was like let's get the foundation in place and over time we can kind of develop the product to match the brand that we had developed.

Nice. Let me ask you this. So Ironclad has a very unique visual approach, especially with, you know, the approach you've taken with illustrations and especially in contrast to similar companies in the industry.

What was the end goal with your approach and your strategy and how did you know when you reached it?

Yeah. So it kind of goes back to the brand platform.

So we had defined brand pillars, right? And one of those pillars is community, something that Ironclad has been really successful at from a marketing perspective and brand perspective is building a community of passionate people in the legal industry, specifically what we call legal ops.

It's kind of an emerging persona and emerging profession.

And we early on capitalized on that.

And so since that's such a core aspect of who we are, it became pretty obvious that we needed to highlight our community too.

And so that means, you know, taking our customers and like doing illustrated portraits of them.

I think that coupled with the fact that we wanted to be differentiated, you know, at the time we pasted up on the wall, like the websites of our competitors and also like kind of similar companies in tech to us because it's not, by the way, it's not just a brand for our customers, but it's also a talent brand, right?

So like we looked at what everyone else is doing right now in tech and we wanted to be something that stood out from that.

And so I think those two things are really what led to a lot of the decisions we made when it came down to use of color, typography, and especially the illustration style.

And it's funny because there was a moment where we announced the rebrand to the company, like maybe three, four weeks or so before we launched it and did like a whole reveal.

And the illustration style was completely different then.

So like it was really like at the very last minute we like found that thing that worked.

And so yeah, you don't really know until you really see it, right?

It's one of those, the messy parts of creativity. We know that experience all too well.

Has everyone in the company been asking for a bespoke portrait?

Definitely. A lot of people wanted them or their kids or something. They're beautiful.

Yeah. Yeah. It's exciting. Yeah. To add to that, like the human touch aspect of it from a brand perspective, with some of our illustrations that go into the product as well, like Blake was talking about earlier, these little branded moments within product, the brand team has really come together and make sure that they're hand drawn and they're hand done.

And it just brings so much of like a different perspective of life and that human aspect into like such a clean looking product.

Yeah. Very cool. Yeah. It's really contrast, right?

We're building very technical tools, right? It's a tool to be able to like build automated workflows for legal, right?

And I think if you think about that and like look out into the world of what other companies do similar things, you see these kind of very like structured kind of isometric sort of technical styles.

And we wanted to contrast that with the human element, right?

The people that we are elevating so that it's not just the technology, it's the people using it too.

Yeah. That style and that approach isn't something that you see every day in tech.

So that was something that really stood out to me as unique.

And the art form of it too, it kind of ties into the art form of legal ops in a way.

It's like, and it comes around full circle, which is nice. Definitely.

Yeah. And also I think something like a nice little detail to kind of highlight is one of our other brand pillars is Illuminate.

And so if you look at the illustrations, but also if you look at other motifs in our brand, you'll see little green highlights, and that's supposed to be illumination of the legal team, illumination of Padres.

And so like that's speaking to that brand pillar, these like little strokes of what we call illuminated green.

So it's something that I just, I just love so much because I love those little details that are maybe a little bit hidden until you, until you like start to notice them.

Yeah, those are nice.

I'm looking at those right now. I wonder, is there a way we can like share our screen here?

Yeah, I think it'd be cool to pull it up and just look at some of the work.

I can, I'll figure out, I'll try and figure out how to do that as we can.

You, Blake, you mentioned when you originally started that there was kind of a really quick sprint on getting some baseline branding to Ironclad, and then you, you recognize that as Ironclad's growing there, you're losing that ability to scale.

And so when you approach this rebrand and this process, you know, what considerations did you take or did you think about to ensure that the design system and the framework you ultimately built was able to, you know, grow and scale with you as a company?

Yeah, that's a really good question.

I think the things that weren't scaling about the old brand was that there wasn't really any coherence to it.

Meaning there was a logo and some colors, but like no, and some illustrations like here and there, but like no real like documentation or like understanding of like how that should be put together.

And it was funny because like I designed this original brand and was working somewhere else and three years later joined the company, and it was like amazing to see how it kind of evolved and like morphed on its own without any like person kind of shepherding it, you know, being the shepherd of the brand.

And so like we had a teal color that was like the primary color and that it like ended up everywhere, including on the walls in the office.

And it's not a bad color, but I think it was, you know, an entire wall would be covered in it and it was just so overwhelming, right?

And so what we wanted to do was create the kind of like language, I suppose.

So, you know, if you imagine the logo and the colors and other elements of like the words, like how do you create sentences from that?

And what is the style of writing? And so that's what we tried to do with this rebrand was build patterns and motifs and like different ways of constructing sentences so that they would feel the same.

And what that tactically, how that kind of manifested was specifically for the website, our entire website is blocks, it's design blocks.

So if you go through different pages, you'll see like patterns of and different motifs being reused.

It's because their thing was built in such a way that those are just the same components being reused over and over across the site.

Obviously, we need to extend them and, you know, add new ones over time.

But that's really the approach we took. And I think that goes into the product as well as building blocks and reasonable components so that people can construct and be creative with those things.

But at the end of the day, it starts, it feels the same, it feels conclusive.

So that was the approach that we took.

Yeah. That's great. Yeah, that definitely seems like a very, very smart approach.

You know, especially from a emerging perspective between your brand facing areas and then the product.

So yeah, I really, really like that approach. Yeah, I mean, it's funny, there's another motif that we have, we call bracketology.

If you look at our logo, I think like there's a few different meanings in our icon mark.

But if you look at it, it's like an eye, right? And then there's two brackets inside of it.

And that was actually taken from the original logo, those two brackets back to back.

And so as part of the rebrand, we wanted to kind of keep that sort of that idea, keep that concept.

But the guys at Century did a really good job of extending that into a motif that you'll see across many different parts of our brand.

So like, we use it for framing photos, and like, it'll be kind of like hidden behind the page sometimes, or even using white space, you'll see like a bracket kind of forming in the white space.

And it's a really great concept.

And I love it. But we never really until recently documented, like just how it should be used.

And so like, again, it kind of like took on a life of its own.

And so like, there's like sales decks sitting, you know, in our Google Drive that just like having crazy uses, like brackets everywhere, different colors.

People got really creative. Nightmares. It's like, it makes me happy, because like, people are like, are trying, they're being creative with it.

And so like, to go back to the systems question, like, how do you create a system of things that people can use and reuse and be creative with while also keeping it consistent and maintaining that, that like, theme, I suppose.

So it's been really fun to watch it kind of evolve.

And then we have to go and write it again a little bit.

I always love listening to Blake talking about the whole rebrand experience.

It always amazes me how far the original logo has come to what it is today and like turning it to from a single logo and like being hands off to like a whole, a whole brand system today.

And it, it just, it's so like, it makes me so happy.

But also like one of the things that Blake and I were talking about when when he was interviewing me was like, Oh, how did you hear about ironclad?

And I said, Oh, well, actually, I remember in my college days, walking down the streets in San Francisco and distinctly see like a giant, like a ironclad logo, and how it just stayed in my head.

I never looked it up. I never looked up what ironclad did or never really, you know, knew I, what, what it was about.

I mean, I myself wasn't sure if I was going to be a designer at the time.

But just how that memory carried me, like stayed with me until like a couple months ago, before I joined, I got a call from ironclad.

I was just like, Hey, have you heard of ironclad? I was like, why does that sound so familiar?

And then I, I looked it up, saw the rebrand. I was like, Oh, wow, that's insane.

Yeah. Brand recognition at its best. I know. I find that also speaks to the talent brand.

I think there are a lot of software that could actually could be a really great software, but because they're focusing on a piece of technology that can feel kind of remote and alien to those who are not working in those industries.

But I think for ironclad, by just like really highlighting on the impact this software has made to the people as a designer, I kind of feel like the impact is made more tangible and approachable.

Absolutely. Yeah.

Can you tell us a little bit about, you know, you completed the rebrand in the sense that the design was locked in, you were ready to start implementing it.

What did that implementation look like?

How did you get your house in order? You know, how did you kind of go about actually implementing the work once it was finished?

Yeah, I mean, I think, I think we did have the luxury of, like I mentioned before, being a relatively young company and not having to too much out there to, to have to go back and change.

I think before we even locked in the new brand, we, we did a few audits of just like, what is there on the world that we need to like, you know, put on a checklist to update.

And it wasn't a crazy amount of things.

But I think, you know, let's see, it was around this time last year that we, that we locked in, I think, the new brand, or maybe even later in August.

It was pretty close.

And then we were already building the website. So, so like, we started building kind of the design blocks as we were designing them.

And we were working with a development agency there too.

And so they're used, they're used to working this way, which was really helpful.

But as we began getting closer and closer and closer, that was when we could actually commit to, you know, putting in the effort to do illustrations or putting the effort to kind of refine things.

But there really wasn't, it wasn't kind of a handoff. It was, it was all integrated, you know, like we started building the things we needed to build before the design was completely locked in.

And then from a product perspective, like I mentioned, like we're still, we're still working on that.

And I think it just comes down to like, what's the priorities, right?

Like, what are the things that are most important to make look and feel like Ironclad and like be able to tell a good piece of story across a journey.

And so, yeah, we're still working through that, that list of things.

How, how are you kind of carving out your time between what I would imagine is, you know, in a perpetual role of day-to-day design tasks for just the company as a whole, and then also, you know, building these illustrations, converting these, these assets over, you know, what did, how did that work from like a prioritization standpoint?

Specifically for the website launch or do you mean like just for the full implementation?

Yeah. That's a good question.

I think we had, we had a very specific launch date.

We also had PR going up that day. And so we structured it so that there were clear check-ins for, for each kind of like phase of the project.

And then once we got into the last step of implementing everything, it was just a matter of making sure that we were covering, I guess, all the, all the different, different components of the list of tasks, if that makes sense.

So for me specifically, I was, let's see, I was spending probably 30%, maybe 40% of my time on the brand.

And a lot of that honestly was just kind of getting, you know, there was like some last minute like executive buy-in things we needed to do.

So I spent time like kind of aligning people around that.

And then we had a brand designer named Pamelia who, who did all the illustrations and she, she spent a lot of time working directly with our agency, kind of developing different styles, developing like kind of the, the different, or like making the different decisions that needed to be made on like on a very like low altitude level.

And then I think most of her time was spent on the rebrand.

If not, maybe, maybe like 90% or possibly more.

I remember correctly. Yeah. Oh, awesome. I think, Jess, I think you successfully got the screen share up.

Yeah. All right. It only took about 13 minutes, but we got it.

Cool. Okay. I see what you're saying with the, the green undertones here.

That's nice. So awesome.

The, these are the portraits of the customers you were mentioning. It looks like it's, I don't know if it's stuck on your end.

It looks a little stuck on my end.

Are you scrolling around on it? Yeah. Can you not see it scrolling or is it stuck?

Looks like it just froze on my end too. Oh, it says your screen sharing is paused.

Resume share. Can you see it now? Ah, there you go. Yeah, there we go. Yeah.

I think these are so cool. Yeah, me too. When we launched, we only really focused on three pages, by the way.

So it was like the core, most important pages, I think at the time were the homepage, the product page, and then our community site.

And then everything else, we just used blocks to kind of like throw together.

So I think by scoping it down that way, it was, it really helped us, you know, focus on what was, what was important.

And now we're adding more things, we're updating things and building out new templates, all that sort of thing.


And do you guys use a CMS for your website? Yeah. Yeah. We're on WordPress. We did a lot of, we like went through actually really thorough evaluation of, of different solutions.

And we had previously been on Webflow and I actually love Webflow.

It's really, really great tool. But at the time, some of the things we were planning to do, like kind of really integrated and customized content and like some of these like more emerging technologies, like demand -based and like different things that like kind of focus on personalizing content just wasn't going to work for, for what we were trying to do.

So we ultimately went with WordPress.

But, you know, it's, it's a proven tool. It works pretty well. Yeah. Yeah.

Cool. Yeah. We use Consentful. Yeah. Yeah. We, we wanted to, I think just at the time we didn't, we couldn't make like the development investment.

Yeah. Awesome. And as you're scrolling, you can see all the hidden brackets.

Yeah. Brackets are beautiful.

Can you, can you see this new browser tab that I just opened? Yeah. I recently came across this and loved it specifically, you know, we're working through a brand refresh right now.

And as part of the rollout plan, thinking of how to display our new design system when I saw this, it definitely resonated.

Was this something that was custom built with the development agency that you hired?

No, this was all our, our beloved Lindsay, who is an incredible brand designer slash web developer slash everything.

And she, she just did this really quickly by like, I think the week before we were going to launch, just by hand.

She's like, we need, we should have a website.

We should, we should have a design or a brand website. She was also, she was previously at Gusto and had done a similar thing for the rebrand.

And so yes, he's just a rock star and was able to put this together really fast.

And, and also she, she I think was able to get it linked. I think we got featured in brand new for our rebrand and this was linked to by that, which was really exciting.

And so awesome stuff. Cool. I've got a quick question here for, for Christie and Sarah.

Since both of you onboarded, I think you said on the same day at Ironclad, you started at the same time and you know, the two of you are kind of coming into this as it's you know, at the stage where it's been implemented.

How have you enjoyed working with this, this new system, this new framework, this new these new components?

How has that been going from, you know, your viewpoint you know, especially Christie, you and I worked at Zenefits together where we were working towards that goal.

So, you know, coming in and having that in place, how has that affected your ability to, you know, turn around design projects efficiently?

Oh, for sure. I mean, there's, there's still a lot of, a lot of new areas to explore, a lot of new templates and new avenues to go down.

But just having like, say the bracketology and the illustration style, you know, already sets a really strong foundation for going forward.

And I think the position I'm in is, is really great that I can have, I can take these and I can just take on a creative route with it.

And, you know, just either let it grow or, you know, kind of mold it to where I would like to ideally grow.

And so, and, and working, working with a team has been just so flexible and incredibly supportive in, in some of my creative decisions.

And we recently launched our first report, impact report that has to do with COVID-19 and how Ironclad has come to help a lot of legal teams.

And that was a first for Ironclad, you know, like coming up with a, back at Zenefits, we did a lot of eBooks and resource books, but for Ironclad, it was like a first ever impact report.

So it's how do we lay that out? And so with the foundation I had and taking all those motifs that were already laid down, like it was just easy to kind of expand on.

And so it has its challenges, but I would say like, it's, it's really flexible to work with.

And just with like, I think being able to speak to the brand, you have to kind of like live and breathe the brand sometimes a little bit.

And it just comes so naturally when you have like a strong foundation laid down.

That's fantastic. So I work on the product side and as Blake has mentioned, like our product side right now is more, it's a bit simpler and we're still working to integrate some of the brand element.

But I think the most important thing is that this new brand just gives the, even the product a really clear sense of identity.

So that as I design new kind of features, even if the current design I have with the current, you know, components are still more, you know, subdued, I can imagine what it could be as we are involving kind of the product, kind of design components forward.

So I think it provides us a sense of a vision to strive towards.

But I mean, more tactically, we have like brand colors that we're using very intentionally.

Like illuminated green, that's before, or using it intentionally to highlight specific things throughout the product, but also like, you know, very minimally as well to increase this kind of power.

Oh, that's fantastic. That's really great to hear. Would you ever potentially like combine your illustration style with aspects of the product, like empty states or other opportunities like that?

Oh, definitely. Yes, we are currently actually doing that.

Awesome. Yeah. Yeah, slowly, slowly kind of like bringing in some of that, that flavor into the product.

And we call them brand moments, right?

Like a moment that you can connect with Ironclad as the brand, not just the product.

You know, you complete a task and you get something done and maybe move on.

But like, is it something that like we can capitalize on so that you actually connect with Ironclad, the company and the brand.

And so we've been identifying those different moments and then trying to either use illustration or any of the kind of elements that we have in our toolkit to be able to make that connection happen.

Yeah, one of the biggest values I've learned as a designer on the brand team is intent and putting intentions behind where we want to use these illustrations, where we want to use a certain texture, or how do we want a certain component to be placed in the product.

So it's really shaped my, my vision, my perspective of intent.

And I think like, as we are moving, incorporating more of the brand moments into the product, we're also kind of adding more nuances to expand our visual vocabulary.

For example, Lindsay and Christine, they were kind of showing that we can definitely incorporate illustration, but most of our larger brand illustrations have a very pronounced perspective.

Usually it is drawn at an angle, but when you're showing smaller illustrations, spot illustrations for say empty states, they're creating a slight variation where maybe the perspective is more kind of one dimensional, but it's clearly understood, you know, in a smaller space.

Right, so being very intentional and specific about where you're using, what, and what type of brand moment you kind of want your, your end user interacting with.

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Cool.

Well, I'd love to pivot towards the org and process portion of the conversation, if that's okay with everyone.

I know we have a good amount to cover there.

And I'm really interested in hearing, you know, how your design org is structured.

I know, obviously you have brand designers, you have product designers, love to hear a little bit about what your org looks like and how designers work together on the team.

Yeah, for sure. Maybe I'll answer what the, what the team looks like, and maybe have like Sarah or Christy speak to how the team works together because I think you live it every day.

So we're a lean and mean team. So it's, it's the seven of us.

There's four product designers, two brand designers, and myself.

We technically sit under product and report into product, but obviously brand designers support marketing, but also, you know, we have a large customer success organization that needs design help and our sales team, you know, many, many parts of the company require design support.

So really I look at us as like a team that, that enables design to happen across the company.

But yeah, would love to hear from, from Christy or Sarah about how the designers work together.

I guess I can start.

Yeah, so I, I really love that working in this small team, whether it's brand designer or other product designer, we're very, have a lot of exposure to everyone's work.

So just in terms of processes, we actually meet quite frequently.

Like we have a design crit every Tuesday and Wednesday where we sign up for a project that we want to share.

And we also describe what project is it and what kind of feedback is it a silent critique?

Is it a brainstorm session that we want to involve everyone in?

And we have this Friday maker time that I think is very special.

So we have, I think that is an hour and a half where we have basically a work design workshop that any one of us can kind of bring up and organize.

For example, in, I think one maker time, Lindsay, our brand designer kind of asked us to kind of brainstorm different ways we can apply brickology across our brand assets.

And Christy also hosted a typography session with all of us as well.

So I think it's just a really amazing moment for us to all work together on something that is work related, but also extremely creative.

And did you say that happens every Friday?

Yeah. Oh, very nice. Yeah, that's awesome. I like, it's like a wind down.

It's meant to be fun and creative and like do something maybe a little bit different than your normal day -to-day work, but it can be work related.

And last Friday we did, we're working on this monthly newsletter we sent out to the whole company.

I'm just highlighting what the design team is doing. And of course we want it to be designed, right?

So we, on our make time on Friday, this last Friday, we all just got into a Figma file and we're just like riffing off of each other, like working on like different ideas of like what the cover could look like for this month's design journal.

So yeah, that's one of my favorite moments of the week.

This is the make time. Awesome. Love the name. Yeah, it's something to blast. Direct and simple and easy to understand.

You know exactly what you're doing. It's also so, I find it so valuable.

Like during my make time, we went into it knowing that it was going to be some sort of like artistic sketch session.

Not sure what we're gonna do, but that week I was working on a lettering project and some other folks on the team asked me what my biggest struggle was that week and it was lettering.

And so we just decided to watch a lettering tutorial together, take on a project together.

And I think, you know, having one cohesive team also ensures like a consistent branding, not just in product, but also on the brand.

And what's great about that is like both groups of designers are providing such like great creative inspiration all the time.

And I just, I love that. It's such like a creative and supportive team.

And in my past experience, it's always been like product is all the way over here, brand is all the way over here.

Whereas here, you know, like especially during our critique sessions, like everyone's in a room together, everyone's brainstorming, everyone's critiquing, brand is critiquing on product, product is helping critiquing on brand.

And it's, yeah, it brings a lot of consistency.

Another process I want to really highlight is, so every morning we have like 15 minutes that's scheduled for all of us, all of design, to have a coffee chat every morning.

And for someone who joined entirely, you know, remotely, in my first couple weeks, I definitely felt a sense of like, am I going to, am I really going to be friends with these people?

But just through those coffee chats, and usually it goes over that 15 minutes, usually it goes to like the rest of the hour.

And we usually talk about sometimes work, but most of the time, just, you know, our personal lives, funny shows we have watched, it really builds a sense of camaraderie, just friendship.

And I think that, especially during this very, you know, special time, COVID, for me, it really gave me a sense of like belonging, that I wasn't sure if I would have.

Yeah, that's great. Yeah, we do something similar in our team too.

We have some coffee meetings a couple times a week in the morning.

It's a great way to just connect, especially during these very unique times, getting that face time is important.

And I think it's really important in building that kind of trust, because now in our Slack channel, when we talk about some, you know, controversial design topic, like font weight, is it going to be 500, 600, 700?

Very important issue, right? We would have a lot of this very, you know, spirited debates, and going through the product, I think you have to have that kind of trust and honesty to really dive into hard subjects.


Yeah, I agree. To go back to the creativity topic for a second, I think, since you originally asked about org design, I think this structure that we have is very intentional, that it's one team, specifically because I think, despite brand design and product design, maybe having some deliverables, ultimately, I believe the method, there's a lot of overlap, or maybe even the same, right?

Essentially, there's a huge, huge creative component to it. Obviously, there's the skill, there's expertise and the knowledge that you need to kind of do the work.

But ultimately, it comes down to like, how many ideas can you generate? And can you talk about them and ration rationalize and articulate why you made those decisions?

And I think it's the same skill across brand design and product design.

And that's been my kind of hypothesis for most of my career. And I was like, what if, you know, that, like, what would it look like if one team kind of centered around this same sort of method, even though they were producing different things?

And so that's kind of like the goal of our team structure is to be able to do that.

Cool. Yeah, I imagine it's helpful to and creating a cohesive brand experience from, you know, your marketing website, all the way through the product, having one team of designers can really ensure that that happens.

Yeah. Yeah.

With an integrated team like that, which I think is fantastic, by the way, that sounds like, for Ironclad, that's working exceptionally well.

As you approach, you know, quarterly planning, or just roadmapping for design initiatives, what considerations do you take to ensure that, you know, you're doing so with no real design velocity in mind, and you aren't just kind of taking, you know, ad hoc or tire spinning type requests?

Yeah, I think that's probably one of the most challenging parts of it, really, is making sure that the team not only has what it needs, but it's also like the business has what it needs, right?

And so a lot of it is alignment with company priorities and goals.

And Ironclad is pretty unique in that, like, I think for the level that we're like, this place of maturity that we're at, we have a lot of really strong foundations in place to be able to know what our company plan is and know like, what are we essentially have like a model that's similar to OKRs.

And so every team has their set of responsibilities to help meet those company goals.

And what it comes down to is making sure that, you know, marketing is going to get the design support that they need to hit their goals for this quarter or this half or year.

And so it just requires a lot of like advanced foresight and planning to make sure that, you know, design's goals are aligned with both marketing and sales and product and really every other part of the company.

But it's challenging because, you know, not everyone always gets it or kind of like understands the impacts.

And a lot of the times impacts of design are indirect, right?

They're harder to measure. And so I think that's one of the biggest challenges in doing this type of alignment.

It's being able to measure the impact and then make the case for, you know, adding budget or headcount or allocating, you know, design time for one thing versus the other thing.

But the fact that we do have a pretty strong system in place helps us from like having to spin our wheels on like the kind of like randomization projects that come through.

And so really the goal is to as much as possible enable other teams to be able to self-serve while also maintaining a high bar for output so that we can focus on these like, you know, kind of metrics moving initiatives from the team.

Yeah, and do you have, what are some ways that you and the team do that?

Is it with like a digital asset management platform?

That's something that we're exploring right now. But what are some ways that you kind of implemented a self -serve approach?

Yeah, my philosophy has mostly been to like kind of meet the people where they already are as much as possible.

So we've built out some pretty robust like slide templates in Google Slides, for example.

Like, you know, a year ago the like kind of the presentations that were out in the wild are pretty wild.

And then we invested time in building like a really great slide library in Google Slides and like made it a template that you can just click, you know, one click open it up and be able to get going.

And so that's been a huge boon for us. And then we use Figma for quite a bit of things.

I think one particular thing that's really interesting is like any type of like digital advertising or like display ads that we need to make.

We have a file with a bunch of components and we've taught, you know, folks on the marketing team how to copy and change the text export.

And so for the most part they can just go in and, you know, like change the copy six times if they want to and like not have to bother anyone.

So it's things like that, just trying to meet people where they are or build like a relatively intuitive system in something like Figma.

Giving somebody access to Figma like that bold move. Have you encountered any monsters in the wild from that?

Some rogue experiments. Definitely rogue experiments happen but I think for the most part like I just firmly believe if you give people like a really easy to use tool and like, you know, some constrained creativity then they'll do some pretty amazing stuff.

But of course we do see brackets kind of in random places every now and then.

I imagine people get wild with those brackets.

Yeah, for sure. We need like a cloudology for us.

I love this bracketology. I wanted to touch on what you mentioned a little earlier on the ROI and kind of the impact of the design work that you do.

How do you go about measuring that on your team and at the company?

Do you have a specific way or approach or method that you take that works best?

Yeah, you know, I feel like I've been trying to like decode that for quite a while.

I haven't found the like the one thing that makes it fit.

Yeah, you know, I think like I think Google has like the dream framework or something like that.

I can't remember exactly what it's called. It's a dream. Is that what it is?

I think so. And that I think that works for certain companies but for us, for example, we actually have a pretty large and amazing customer success team and they measure their success off of a few things but NTS is one of them.

Now, I can say that, you know, design has a huge impact on NTS and actually we do get signal on that here and there when someone submits an NTS survey and they say like, why didn't you know, why don't you give us a score and it's like intuitive UI or like such and such.

But it's really hard to kind of like break that apart and know exactly what is influencing that score.

And so, I just look to things like NTS as just a loose signal for how we're doing.

But I haven't really like cracked the code on exactly like one particular metric that measures the success of design other than the other metrics that are being enabled like product team delivering on a feature or on a use case or the sales being able to close a deal or those sorts of things are impacted by design but haven't found the like right way to extract out what the number is there.

Yeah, it's kind of a gray area, I think, for many design teams. We're still figuring it out too.

Yeah, for sure. Oh, sorry, Jess.

No, go for it. I just wanted to, on that topic, I have some folks in our team are curious on how user research is approached on your team.

Specifically, I mean, I guess it pertains to both brand and product, but I'd be curious to hear what kind of user research practices you use on the team and how it influences your work.

Sorry, Sarah, you want to talk about that? Sure. Yeah, I think, I think, as I mentioned that we, usually none of us were previously lawyers, so it's really important for us to really understand the legal team, business user, different type of users that use our product, what are the problems they have, what are the other solutions, and, you know, what does their life look like.

And I think there are different ways to look at what user research means across the life cycle of a project.

For example, in the beginning, when we are kind of tackling a bigger project with a high level of ambiguity and uncertainty, we would usually do a series of customer interviews.

I think before COVID, we would actually walk to some customer's office to talk to them.

But, you know, now it's mostly Zoom calls. So then what we do is a problem interview, where we ask them kind of how they use Ironclad today, but also explore different problem areas around kind of the project we're actually interested in, just to understand for a specific task they do, what are the different problems they have, how do they think about it, what are the current workarounds or processes they are adopting today.

And then from that, we can understand, you know, out of this entire problem space that we can map, what are the things we really should address and we're capable of addressing across time.

Another, I mean, this can take quite a bit.

I can talk on and on about research, actually.

But I think a lot of it is understanding customer, but also understanding our own internal perspective.

So internal stakeholder interview across our different teams, whether it is sales support, but also say product marketing and marketing in general and our executive teams.

But that's like the beginning part.

There's obviously in the end, there's usability study, there's feedback after something is launched.

In the middle, there's concept testing when we have early design directions that we can share with customers.

But I would have to say that my personal experience is you really need to understand the problem and get inside the user's head.

If we misinterpret that, then it doesn't matter if you create the best solution, if it is to the wrong problem.

Awesome. Cool.

So I hate to cut this topic short, but I think we only have a little bit of time left.

And so I wanted to wrap up and thank the Ironclad team for joining us today.

It was really great hearing from you and learning more about your rebrand and how you work together.

And thank you for joining us. Yeah, Sarah, Christy, Blake, thank you so much.