From the first day I (officially) joined Polyglot Group, I felt a disconnect between our brand and the spirit of the company.
This was tough for me personally, considering I grew up alongside this business and have seen it evolve and mature into what it is today. It’s true – we have come a long way from the home office my mother was working out of in 1996 whilst also nursing my newly born baby brother.
From a tiny seed my mother planted all of those years ago, we have now grown and become a family of our own, one that is much larger than we could ever have imagined.
With growth comes change. And since our growth was incredibly rapid, our brand didn’t have time to catch up. Our identity was a Frankenstein of values and feelings we’d accumulated along the way. It contained lots of good ideas, but we never had a strategy behind it.
For the longest time, our tagline was “Your Cross-Cultural Partner”—something we felt strongly about, but was too ambiguous to be our guiding light.
We wanted a vision that was more specific, a clear message that wouldn’t easily fall victim to interpretation.
So we began a search for the core of our identity.
Who are we?
At first, we thought we could figure this out in-house. Surely we knew ourselves better than anyone?
So we spent time trying to understand what “partnership”, “diversity” and “cross-cultural” meant to us, and how to represent it through design. We looked into early symbolism, watched many (MANY) TED Talks on the subject and even debated the meaning of the words internally.
It was an interesting exercise. But soon we realised that to really get to know ourself, we needed someone else to hold up the mirror. It was time to call in the experts.
We wanted a branding studio that was going to partner with us, take the time to understand our core and ask the hard questions. We wanted a company to offer us what we offer our clients: care, passion, trust and honesty.
That’s how we met Toast. And after a two-hour conversation about identity, purpose, and French wine, we fell in love with each other.
They understood branding the way we do:
“Branding is a set of written and visual tools to express a company’s personality and project a unique vision.
It is about bringing the brand’s story to life.”
So how long does it take to define the story and put it out on paper? Some people say you can rebrand in 6-8 weeks. Toast said it would take around 3-5 months.
It ended up taking almost a year.
That was lesson one: rebranding takes time.
Not just because it’s so vital to a business but because you’re asking questions that don’t have easy answers. Scary questions like “Why are we doing this?” and “What do we believe in?” Not the kind of stuff you easily chat about over Friday drinks.
Because if you really want to get to the core of your business, you need to spend time talking with lots of different people, both friends and strangers, about how they perceive you.
Here’s where we turned for some deep conversation.
Crafting a Brand Message
To develop an authentic brand proposition, one needs to understand what moves your business, and why people connect with it. We needed to understand straight from the source.
As such, we started with employee surveys, 1-on-1 interviews with key stakeholders and focus groups with clients. And we kept asking:
What’s this business about? Why did you partner with Polyglot Group? Why did you want to work here? What makes us different? What makes you stick around?
The first theme that appeared through these conversations was “simplicity” — Polyglot Group helps make growth simple for its clients.
Whether they are looking to grow locally or expand overseas, Polyglot Group takes away the complexities by offering tailored services and comprehensive solutions so they can concentrate on what they do best. Polyglot Group makes growth simple by speaking their clients’ language and by making growth approachable without using industry jargon.
It made sense. But something important was missing.
By listening to our clients & our team, we realised that people often refer to Polyglot Group with words such as “empathy”, “human” and “care.” That’s some pretty emotional vocabulary for a business growth partner, right?
And then we realised that the same feelings people use to describe our services are baked into our company culture.
Our CEO, Corinne, is passionate about building a work environment where people feel comfortable and free. She has always worked to make Polyglot Group about empathy — from the service, to how we communicate, to the way we hire.
We go above and beyond for our clients, not because we have to, but because we’re passionate about helping them grow and we empathize with the challenges that arise with growth.
So Polyglot Group is about more than just cultural awareness or knowledge. Yes, our clients partner with us to find new team members, pay them, make sure they remain compliant, help them set-up subsidiaries and teams in new markets, facilitate communication, to simplify their growth.
But what makes our service stand out is the human and empathetic approach we bring to the table. Our cultural understanding and our multicultural DNA means we have a better understanding of what is happening around the world and how each culture does business.
This in turn means we have greater empathy and therefore, can create stronger partnerships with our clients. Partnerships based on trust. Because when you are looking to grow sustainably, people and collaboration are at the core of everything.
This clarified our company vision:
“Our vision is to positively disrupt how businesses tackle growth. We wish to bring humanity back to business by focusing on its best asset: it’s PEOPLE.”
Our goal is to overcome cultural boundaries so as to create a more open and collaborative world.
We think that business is all about relationships. We want to live in a world in which people want to build deeper relationships with people they work and do business with. We want to live in a world that thrives on curiosity, diversity and community. We want to live in a world that believes in growth, in evolution and in partnership.
Our goal is to be an indispensable ‘on the ground’ resource to assist our clients’ local growth and global expansion plans. We provide local expertise and practical business experience to ensure the essentials are taken care of, enabling a smooth transition into new markets.
But more importantly, our goal is to empower the human factor of a business, because this is what fuels its success and growth.
Balancing the Emotional and the Rational
Polyglot Group’s secret sauce has always been a healthy mix of the rational and the emotional: local knowledge + cultural awareness.
So as to create some synergy between brand and service, Toast looked at our current logo and our unique selling proposition.
Our global identity is present throughout our core business, not only in our presence throughout the timezones we serve or the types of clients we help, but also in the multicultural and global DNA of the team that forms the Polyglot Group.
As such, the idea of including an aspect of the globe or celebrating our global identity became the new logo’s backbone.
So we started by looking at the globe’s axis. At which angle does it tilt? Which direction does it turn?
To compliment the “rational” aspect of the axis, we then experimented with more emotionally charged symbols to bridge the two.
After much deliberation, we decided on the meaningfulness of a circle — which would become the main visual element of our logo concept.
Since a circle has no beginning and no end, this familiar shape has been widely used since ancient times to evoke growth, direction, movement, unity, infinity, cycles, inclusion, wholeness, focus, completion, revolution,
While the circle has no beginning or end, the curve, as part of the circle, can insinuate a direction and orientation, and can also imply movement.
The circle symbol meaning is universal. It represents the infinite nature of energy, and the inclusivity of the universe.
The different rings symbolise the many rich and diverse layers of human beings and their growth potential.
The dots represent people. They breathe. They’re alive.
Expressing our New Identity
With our core revealed, it didn’t take long to polish the surface. A couple of weeks later, the Toast team was back in Sydney to present the new Polyglot Group identity.
It included a new logo — a simple set of three rings of dots that organically take shape to reflect people’s constant flux, eternal growth, their individuality and their humanity.
The goal behind this new logotype was to tell our story and reflect our values in a more organic and modern way. We wanted to stay true to our DNA whilst looking towards the future. By doing so we were able to create a final artwork that is layered with meaning and symbolism.
The first is the celebration of our roots. Reminiscent of aboriginal (Indigenous Australian) art and symbolism, this set of rings of dots are commonly used to portray the idea of community.
As an Australian born business, it was important to us to pay homage to our beginnings in a meaningful way.
Secondly, came the aspect of language and communication. Our new logotype needed to showcase our multicultural DNA as well as our desire to break cultural and language barriers that exist around the world.
The use of dots is reminiscent of both Braille and Morse Code, both considered to be “universal languages” and created to help people from different walks of life communicate better. Primarily used in emergency situations to call for help, Morse Code appealed to so as to portray our mission of helping businesses in time of need and in time of urgency.
Braille on the other hand, appealed to us to symbolise “bridging the gap”. Originally created to facilitate communication with visually impaired individuals, this tactile writing system is an amazing symbol of empathy.
Finally, our logo needed to breath life into our brand. Similarly to heartbeat, the rows of dots echo one another and are constant and never ending. Similar to a fingerprint, the dots and lines each reveal individuality and diversity.
All in all, these aren’t just random designs — details matter.
And with all of this love and attention to detail poured into our new logo, we were able to “find the real us.” And we were ready to share it with you.
Building a Brand to Last
Are we sure the new Polyglot Group will be around for a while? Well, we definitely hope so.
Reflecting back on the long rebranding process, here’s a few things we’ve learned:
Trust your intuition. A brand is a marketing tool to position your product / service, but also an emotional way to connect with your audience. Never underestimate your feelings.
Involve everyone. Team members are the ones who bring your brand to life — they’re your most important audience. Make them feel involved and listen to their concerns. Great ideas can come from the most unexpected people.
Leave time to implement. The rebrand you initially deliver is just a bunch of proposals and good intentions. It’s when you start to implement that you see what works, and what doesn’t. Plan properly and allow room for experimentation.
Decide and commit. Rebranding is a big and emotional decision, especially for founders. But a brand is never going to be perfect, so at some point you must commit and go all in.
Have we done all of these things right? Probably not.
But we’ve tried our best to dive deep into our company’s culture to discover our true identity. And we couldn’t be happier with the final result.
We hope you like it just as much as we do.