© 2018 by Craig Caron.

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Skills Matter

Branding and creative direction for
tech training and event company

Skills Matter was a London-based company that drove innovation in software engineering by bringing together people to learn new skills, discover emerging technologies and share ideas. They were in operation from 2003 until November 2019 when they stopped trading.

When I joined the company in mid-2018, they were running 15 conferences, 60+ training workshops, and hosting up to 5 meetups nightly at their venue in City of London.

When I was hired to launch a Brand Team at the company, I saw what I characterised as a lack of cohesion to the overall Skills Matter visual aesthetic: there were fragments of a brand system — recurring elements, repeated motifs —  but no underlying structure.

From a design perspective, one of the key things I did was to systematise the brand.

Neither I nor the company's leadership team wanted to pursue a full rebrand, but I knew that I could make use of a lot of the good work that had been done to brand various Skills Matter products over the years (see examples at left).

The company was already using an a lot of vibrant colours, and this was something I was keen to wanted to retain. I audited the dozens of colours already in use, and refined the palette to 16 colours (pictured right).

Why 16? Skills Matter’s products all fell under one of 16 “Matters Areas”, which covered various programming languages (JavaScript, Python), disciplines (Agile, Discovery) and topics (Diversity, Leadership). Once the palette was settled, I assigned two brand colours to each of these Matters Areas.

These colours were chosen based on a number of contributing factors: For example, the Scala language is closely associated with the colour red, so it was a no brainer to assign red to Scala Matters. Elsewhere, Mobile Matters was given a lime green because Skills Matter’s Android conference was heavily utilising that same green in its branding — much of which was printed collateral reused from year-to-year.

* * *

A typeface named Stratum 2 was already being used on the Skills Matter website for certain headings, so I incorporated that into other print and digital branding. I also adopted Source Sans as the company’s primary corporate typeface, which addressed some of the accessibility and scalability issues of previously used typefaces. (The open-source nature of Source Sans also lined up nicely with Skills Matter’s history of championing open-source technologies.)

I then updated the artwork for all the various products that lived under these various Matters Areas, introducing a consistent visual system of type and colour used across digital assets (web advertisements and video stingers/slates) and print collateral (brochures, postcards).

Examples of cross-platform branding for various "JavaScript Matters" products:

2019-SM-Brand-JavaScript-Print copy.png

Print

2019-SM-Brand-JavaScript-LinkedIn-Mockup

Paid Social

2019-SM-Brand-JavaScript-Web-mockup.png

Web Ads

Video

At this point, a lot of the groundwork was done to make the brand a tool that could be successfully utilised by anyone within the company.

On a subdomain of skillsmatter.com I created a microsite (see below) that outlined the brand guidelines, and also allowed anyone — internal or external — to directly download certain brand assets like logos, fonts and templates. (I also created the company’s first ever Editorial Guidelines, and launched a sister site/wiki outlining those.)

Unfortunately, this brand project came to a premature end when the company closed its doors in late 2019.

A portion of the Skills Matter Brand Microsite