Why Brands Simplified Their Logos
(and Why You Might Too!)

Have you seen a noticeable shift in brand logos lately and wondered why longstanding brands have changed their logos? Besides a general need to refresh a logo after a number of years, some of the most recognizable brands in the world have shifted their logos from containing unconventional typography, shapes and figures, to something more simplified to represent their brand.

For example, many of the top fashion retailers in the world have changed their wordmark logos from wide-kerning serif fonts—fonts which have small decorative strokes on letters with lots of space in between letters—to thin-kerning sans-serif fonts—fonts which have no decorative strokes on letters and little spacing between letters.

Even the once-popular combination or mark logos, that have both a wordmark and either a shape, figure or mascot, are seeing a decline. Just think about the change to the Starbucks logo back in 2011. They were an early adopter, removing the Starbucks Coffee wording from the logo and keeping the infamous green siren in the circle as a pictorial logo.  

But why is there such a shift in these popular and recognizable brand logos? It has to do with the digital market and the needs of the consumer. 

The Digitization of Logos 

Many of the logos have changed, are logos that were once a mix of serif fonts, various textures, shapes, and colours. While these logos worked well for the pre-digital marketing world, they are much harder to work with when it comes to marketing in a digital space. 

Logos that are visually complicated pose a problem when translating them to digital purposes, like for websites, advertising, apps and social media.

Think about a logo on a website. If a logo is crowded with a serif font, or too many colours and shapes, it can look cluttered when placed in a website’s navigation bar or a footer. It can also create sizing issues. Many older logos take up space in height and width, which makes them harder to size in the case of an app, social media post or a mobile website. 

The shift to make logos simplified is a practical case. If brands want to appeal to the digital consumer, then their presence needs to be easily seen. 

Making Logos Easy to Understand and Accessible

Another reason logos have become more simple is because of studies on how people consume information. Humans like to be presented with things that are easily understood. If someone has to stare at a logo for a while to make sense of it, not only are they going to have slight frustration, but they’re likely not going to remember it in the future. 

Simplifying logos makes them easier for the consumer to take in, giving them fewer obstacles to interacting with your brand. It also helps with overall accessibility for your brand. If someone who has a visual impairment can easily see the fonts in your brand name or the shapes in your logo, it makes it more welcoming and less of a barrier in their life. 

A Simplified Logo Doesn’t Mean Boring or Similar 

If you’re worried about your logo and if it will be boring or too similar to other brands once you simplify it, it’s time to put those worries aside. 

Simplifying a logo can actually give you the opportunity to focus on the essence of your brand and how to display it in the least complicated way. It’s a time to dig in and understand the tone you want to convey, who your audience is, and what you want people to feel when seeing your logo.

Let’s say you’re a fitness facility, and you want to go from a combination mark logo to a wordmark but want to maintain that your brand represents strength. You can still convey strength through the colour choice and the font choice. Or, you can opt for a pictorial logo, that shows an arm holding a weight in your brand colours.

The Process of Simplifying a Logo 

Making a simplified logo can be a challenging process, and it’s extremely normal for a logo to go through a variety of changes in the refresh or redesign process until you get to one that truly represents your brand. 

Getting external help from a design agency that has experience in logo refreshes or complete logo redesigns can help you make those harder decisions to match your brand tone and strategy. Check out 9dot Digital’s graphic design services to learn more about our logo work and branding strategies. 

The Five Key Elements
of a Strong Buyer Persona

Despite the continued rise in content marketing, it’s surprising to discover how many marketers don’t use buyer personas to guide their activities. This is a missed opportunity.

Understanding your prospective customers’ wants, needs and goals are critical to creating an effective content marketing strategy. This knowledge should form the strong foundation on which all other activities and materials are built. Developing a buyer persona is the best way to understand your target audience at a deep level and get them to complete a purchase/transaction with your company or business. 

What are Buyer Personas?

Think of a persona as a fictional character that represents your target customer and gives you a detailed look at who they are, what they want, and what drives them.

For many businesses, of course, a single buyer persona doesn’t work. Different segments often require different personas—though you don’t want to get carried away, either. For most organizations, creating two or three detailed buyer personas is sufficient to help guide the marketing process.

What are the Key Elements in a Buyer Persona? 

So how do you go about creating an effective buyer persona? While there are a lot of potential areas to consider, here are five key elements of a strong buyer persona:


Who are you talking to? 

The best way to tailor a marketing message is to know who you’re talking to. Ask yourself, “Who is my buyer?” For buyer demographics, you need to consider two core areas: personal demographics, such as a job title or role and age range, industries of interest, hobbies of interest, and geographic location. 

Knowing who you are talking to can help you shape messaging and promotional efforts to reach them. 


What do they value? 

Psychographics looks at what a person values or holds of importance, which might influence their buying decisions. Spending habits, patterns, lifestyle choices, aspirations or interests in your area of business, are all part of psychographic details. 

Knowing what your ideal buyer values, is important in making sure you can deliver in a way that speaks to their values. 


What does the buyer want to get or achieve? 

The buyer is often looking for a solution to their challenges, which gives them the motivation to pull through on a purchase. Evaluating how your product or service addresses the need, can help present your company or brand in a way that says, “Hey, we can get you exactly what you need”, in a way that removes obstacles. 

Knowing what your buyer wants, helps you to highlight what your offer is to meet their needs and achieve the outcome they are looking for. 


What forces affect your buyer in making their decision?

Quite literally, an influence on a buyer can be a paid influencer on a social media platform, or it can be as simple as a colleague, family member or boss that might influence their decision. Humans tend to seek validation when making purchases to know they’re making the “right decision”. 

Knowing who these influences are, gives you insights into where your buyer is getting information from and what they are thinking about. 


What might hold them back from the purchase? 

Sometimes, this stems from an influence. Other times, it can be because of a competing company they’ve heard of that offers something incredibly similar to yours. It could even be because your offering isn’t as reputable as more established brands. 

Knowing these objections and their root causes gives you the information you need to address concerns in your marketing messaging. 

Using Buying Personas in Your Marketing Process

The process of creating personas is valuable. To create a detailed and believable persona means looking deeper for answers, seeking patterns in past customer behaviour, and viewing your products or services with a more critical eye.

However, the long-term value comes from using the personas. Buyer personas create a structure for your marketing strategy and influence your messaging. Personas also operate as a “true North” document for your team. By revisiting the written persona while creating communications materials, team members can ensure that they stay aligned with the strategy and hone their messages for the right audience.

The result is better marketing materials that are aligned with your target customer’s true goals.

Tips to Make a Website
Accessible and AODA Compliant

As a creative marketing agency, it’s important to lead our clients and community by example. That’s why we’ve created a blog series that focuses on the importance of AODA website compliance for companies in Ontario. With this series, our goal is to help Ontario businesses identify their AODA readiness and become fully AODA compliant with their website and online content.

In our final part of our AODA Website compliance series, we’re sharing some basic tips to help you make a website accessible and AODA compliant. Let’s begin! 

Compliance Starts With Your Website Design

When turning your existing website into an AODA Compliant and fully accessible website, the first step is to scale it back and think about the design of your website. Design is a large portion of AODA compliance. You need to ensure your designs are accessible to all users. While it does require a lot of attention to detail and know-how from a designer to achieve this, here are some of the main points to address when designing a website for AODA compliance: 

  • Website fonts should meet a minimum readability requirement of 14px for those who might be visually impaired
  • Website fonts should score high on a readability scale. Fonts that are sans serif work best. Avoid any overly decorative fonts. 
  • Colour contrast across the site needs to be greater than 4:5:1 so those with visual impairments can see

Compliance is Finished with your Website Development

Now, let’s say the user of your website needs assistive technology to understand the information that is on the site. This can be due to blindness, a hearing impairment or motor skills impairment. How a developer codes your site, makes a big difference in its usability. 

The back end of your site (where all the code is) will need to be written cleanly so someone who relies on assistive technology can also understand your website’s purpose. The developer of the site should be someone who is familiar with the code markup and can address things like:

  • Adding appropriate header tags and titles
  • Using a proper heading structure 
  • Adding in a Skip to Content button and keyboard navigation through the site
  • Using semantic HTML to create elements that are purposeful 
  • Having alternative text for images 
  • Ensuring link text is descriptive of the information a reader is looking for 

Checking Your Website’s Compliance

The final step in making a website AODA compliant with WCAG 2.0 AA standards, is a thorough check of the website design and code. This involves some manual checks from the designer and the developer involved, but it can also be helpful to have team members not-as-ingrained in the details of the project to give it a check over too. 

There are also design tools, web development tools, and AODA tools that can scan the completed website to pick up on any components that might be missing to meet compliance. These are helpful to itemize the problems on the site and provide solutions in how to fix them. 

What’s Next for AODA Compliance?

Although we’re sharing what seems like many guidelines, there are many more rules surrounding web compliance that goes beyond these basic elements. It’s important to work through AODA requirements and do tests and checks throughout the process of website design. Keep in mind that most websites are not 100% perfect when it comes to accessibility, but the goal is to have it as close as possible and have a plan to resolve what might be an outstanding issue over time. Also, as technology changes and there are different practices for web design and web development, the way rules are applied might change. At 9dot Digital, our designers and developers are always tuned in to best practices so we can maintain the accessibility levels on our clients’ websites. 

If you’re ready to get started on making your website accessible, check out our design services and website development services. Have more questions on AODA and compliance? Contact us and let us help! 

Quality, Quantity and Content
Marketing Challenges

Today, companies and brands are faced with three main challenges when it comes to their content marketing. One challenge is the increasing pressure to create consistent, high-quality content for their company or brand. Another challenge is that competition is increasing.

In a recent survey by HubSpot, 90% of marketers are using content marketing as part of their strategy. Not only is there more content vying for audience attention, but marketplace “noise” is also increasing. But the overarching challenge is how to create this consistent content that stands out in the marketplace when faced with budget challenges and bandwidth constraints.

Creating Quality Content With Less

If you’re working on content marketing, and are faced with a similar dilemma, there are two main paths you can focus on to meet the ever-rising bar for quality content, with fewer resources and more competition. 

One way is to focus your efforts by creating fewer, high-quality pieces, or “cornerstone” content. Many content marketers spread themselves too thin, filling up their content calendars and then scrambling (and often failing) to create worthwhile pieces. Instead of creating multiple “okay” blogs or articles, focus your attention on something larger and more worthwhile. For example, you could complete a study or conduct a survey, then provide your company’s unique take on the insights provided as a whitepaper with a series of tie-in blog posts. These types of pieces not only garner attention but show leadership and expertise that can help your brand stand out in a crowded market.

Reshaping Content for Different Platforms 

The second way to approach the dilemma is by getting full value from the content you produce. While you don’t want to re-use content word-for-word on various platforms because of SEO penalties and spamming an audience with the same information, you also don’t want to allow the content to be used once and never again. 

Once you have your cornerstone content, you can reshape it into smaller pieces, like pulling interesting parts of it to use in a newsletter or pulling out 10 facts to use as social media posts to promote the piece. While you’re delivering similar information, it’s saying it in a different way and delivering it in a different way than the original piece. Your audience might engage with your piece differently when it’s presented to them in smaller pieces too. 

This also gives you more time to get the full value out of the resource, and really get the most promotion out of it. If you take every piece of cornerstone content and apply this method, it takes out some of the guesswork when it comes to creating a content marketing calendar and actually executing it. It then becomes a matter of pulling out smaller ideas from it and reshaping them for your next platform. 

Evaluating Your Content Marketing Plan  

Many companies and brands have success using the less quantity, more quality approach to help balance their time and their expectations. It proves that time and budget don’t need to be a barrier to a good content marketing strategy if you use your resources wisely and promote them wisely. 

But for some companies and brands, there comes a point when you might see an even higher demand for content marketing, or a more specialized approach to continue on the path of success. That’s when getting an external agency can help. An agency, like 9dot Digital, can help evaluate your current content marketing plan, and help re-strategize what can be done content-wise, within your budget, to meet your goals. Agencies can help increase your bandwidth by helping with content creation, or by steering your content in a direction that you’ve never thought of before. 

For more information on content marketing, check out our content creation services and our digital marketing services. 

Importance of AODA and Accessible Websites

As a creative marketing agency, it’s important to lead our clients and community by example. That’s why we’ve created a blog series that focuses on the importance of AODA website compliance for companies in Ontario. With this series, our goal is to help Ontario businesses identify their AODA readiness and become fully AODA compliant with their website and online content.

This post in our series focuses on the importance of Accessible Websites and Web content for businesses and why you need to think about WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines. We’ll also examine just how important is it to have an accessible website and what the impacts are on Canadians, Ontarians, individuals and your business.

Why Are Accessible Websites Important? 

According to the World Wide Web Consortium, W3.org — A Web Accessibility Initiative, an accessible website has a tremendous impact on individuals, businesses and society and can do more for you than a non-accessible website. 

The impact is why W3 created the WCAG guidelines in the first place! Since its beginnings, it has evolved to meet new technology and accessibility standards as demanded by the world, and now goes up to WCAG 2.1 Level AAA compliance, however in Ontario, businesses just need to comply with WCAG 2.0 Level AA. 

But let’s take a look at how WCAG and accessible website content affects the broader elements of your business and your practices. 

How Canadians Identify Their Accessibility Levels 

According to a 2017 Statistics Canada survey,  1 in 5 Canadians have a disability that impacts their daily life. To put it into another number, it means that 6.3 million Canadians have identified as having a disability. As generations get older, it’s likely we’ll see an increase in these numbers. 

In Ontario, the number of those who identify as disabled are high enough that it was brought to the level of the provincial government to incite AODA standards. By numbers, over 2.6 million Ontarians identify as having a disability according to the same 2017 Statistics Canada survey.  

If 2.6 million Ontarians identify as having a disability, it’s safe to assume that on any given day, someone who uses your website may need it to be accessible. So let’s talk more about the user. 

Individual Interaction With Accessible Websites

On the individual user level, an accessible website increases levels of user experience (UX) and user satisfaction. The user experience is crucial to someone staying on a website. If the user doesn’t like how the website works, it’s more likely they’ll leave your website than struggle trying to use it. 

Keeping UX and satisfaction in mind when designing and developing means that the end result should allow users of any age and ability to navigate/operate and understand your website. 

This method of approaching your website will also speak directly to the ethos of a user. 

If they have a smooth and accessible experience, they will view your website as an equal-experience website that’s more ethical and inclusive than others. 

And as you may guess, a website that welcomes anyone and everyone, means you significantly increase your chance at growing your business and web presence.

Check out our last post for more information on AODA Standards and Information and Accessibility. 

Accessible Websites and Your Business

Your business likely relies on your website as part of its overall marketing plan. Maybe you’re trying to drive leads or get people to make purchases on your website. Well, if the person who lands on your website can’t access it because of its design or development… your website isn’t serving much of a purpose. 

Now imagine, just by making your website AODA compliant to WCAG 2.0 Level AA, you can grow your potential audience size by hundreds of thousands! 

So whether you want to improve the user’s experience, achieve your business goals or just make 6.3 million Canadian’s lives a little bit easier, it’s important to create accessible websites and web content aside from complying with regulations. 

In the next post in our series of AODA Website Accessibility, we’ll discuss some of the things you should be mindful of when you update your website with content. 

AODA Websites

As a creative marketing agency, it’s important to lead our clients and community by example. That’s why we’ve created a blog series that focuses on the importance of AODA website compliance for companies in Ontario. With this series, our goal is to help Ontario businesses identify their AODA readiness and become fully AODA compliant with their website and online content.

If you haven’t heard of AODA or the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, we’ll walk you through the backstory and explain how it impacts your business and your website as of January 1, 2021. 

What is the AODA? 

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was first established by the Ontario government in 2005 to address the lack of accessibility in Ontario. The act was implemented to create standards across the province to make goods, services, buildings/premises, facilities and employment, accessible to anyone. 

What AODA Standards Businesses Must Follow? 

In the AODA, the Ontario government highlights Ontario Regulation 191/11  or the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR). The standards in this regulation describe how to make five important areas of daily living accessible. The five standards outlined within Ontario Regulation 191/11 Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation are: 

  • Information and communications standards
  • Employment standards
  • Transportation standards
  • Design of public spaces standards
  • Customer service standards 

The good news is, most Ontario businesses and employers are following AODA standards that are obvious and visible—like having a wheelchair ramp that goes up to a public building or allowing guide dogs in grocery stores to help people navigate.  

There is, however, a noticeable gap in compliance with Information and Communications Standards. 

What Are Information and Communications Standards? 

Information and Communications Standards focus on how communications happen between two or more people, like with training resources on a website or accessible formats of information, like audio guides at a museum. 

But a huge focus in IC Standards is having an Accessible Website and Web Content—and here’s where most Ontario businesses don’t comply!

Under the IASR regulation and IC standards, Ontario requires that websites made after 2012 (or those that have been updated since 2012) meet the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines — or in simple terms, (WCAG) 2.0—at Level AA. 


What is WCAG 2.0 Level AA?

WCAG 2.0 Level AA  is an outlined set of rules that all website designs, development and content should follow. The rules are based on four accessibility principles. They are:  

  • The website must be perceivable

The information and user interface (UI) must be presented to viewers in ways they can perceive.  

  • The website must be operable

The user should be able to operate the interface. 

  • The website must be understandable

The user has to understand the information and also understand the operation of the website interface. 

  • And the website must be robust

The website must be accessible with technology as it advances and user agents evolve. 

While the list of rules under each principle is quite lengthy and can be challenging to understand, they’re important to implement for your business and website. 

How WCAG 2.0 and AODA Website Standards Affect Your Business 

As per regulations, websites for companies with over 50 employees, those that are publically traded, or those that are public service-based, must be in compliance with WCAG 2.0 Level AA as of January 1, 2021. 

What does that mean for your business and your website? 

As it stands, most websites are NOT designed to meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliance. This means that a majority of Ontario companies will be scrambling to meet the 2021 IASR standards of Information and Communication by the AODA. 

What Happens If My Business Doesn’t Comply? (Hint: Monetary Penalties!) 

You may be thinking to yourself, “what happens if my business doesn’t comply to AODA standards?” The consequence of ignoring AODA Regulations and IASR standards can lead to increased costs for your business. 

In the simplest terms, Ontario Regulation 191/11 section 83 states that corporations who do not meet ISAR standards on their websites and web content are to pay a daily penalty of $100,000, or in the case of individuals and unincorporated organizations, $50,000 per day

If the daily penalties aren’t enough to make you think about making your website AODA compliant, then take a look at our next blog post about the Importance of Accessible Website and Web Content.