Friday, January 20, 2012

Facelift | Faceoff: C.TRAC

Facelift | Faceoff: C.TRAC

A Whole New TRAC…

C.TRAC is a data-focused, interactive marketing outfit located in Cleveland, OH. It’s also where I got my start. And while during my tenure I prevailed over all things marketing/branding, I didn’t get to weigh-in on either of the logos here.  I inherited the first and departed before the second.  

Still, having been there for nearly 6 years, how could I not have an opinion?

In that spirit, we continue our Facelift | Faceoff series with a review of a brand near-and-dear to my heart.

But first, the required backstory.

We’ve preached ad nauseam that a logo should capture a company’s essence. It is logical then that whenever an organization shifts its strategic focus, brand should follow suit.

From its inception in data entry and inventory management to a more recent stint with direct mail and data analysis, C.TRAC is no stranger to evolution. As the firm looks to commemorate its 40th birthday, a new logo and website were launched to usher in another new era – one which places email marketing and custom web development at the forefront.

As a truly interactive service provider, C.TRAC needed a logo to match. So let’s see how they did.

Before the facelift:
….zzZZzz.zzzZz zzz…Oh, I’m sorry. I just fell asleep.

In place for over a decade, the previous company logo was very….safe. In paring basic blues with plain block letters, it merely gets the name across. “Information Solutions” was included to better codify in the minds of the customer that C.TRAC had evolved beyond its competitors; seeing data compilation and direct mail as incomplete absent the power of analytics (very new-age for the early-2000s).

I always struggled to explain the creative element to the left of the name. Internally, we referred to it as “the bug” (which, being a data/computer org., would not have worked externally). It wasn’t until I was years-deep that I first came in contact with the ad firm that created it and finally got a half-baked answer. “It’s 4 “Cs” coming together.” What those Cs stood for, no one could recall.

So there you have it: the C.TRAC of yesterday. Very ambiguous and business-like. Trustworthy, but dull.

After surgery:
The infusion of bold orange set against the basic blue and gray is electrifying. By retaining the “dot” and all-caps treatment, C.TRAC makes an otherwise drastic change feel familiar with long-standing brand advocates.  All the dead air that hung between the letters in the previous logo is gone, leaving the new treatment to appear more fit, trim and cutting-edge.

From 4 to 3. “The bug” was replaced with "the blade," a new trio of Cs and this time, the team was clued in to the implication behind it. Communicate. Compile. Comprehend. What do these mean to the customer? I’m not sure – hey, it’s not my job to make that connection anymore. ;)

30k Ft Weighs In:

Radically different and yet, the same.

The new iteration of C.TRAC’s brand repairs all that was wrong with the previous version.
Better situated to represent a fast-paced, interactive marketing firm, the new logo has both life and a personality. Lower-case seems all the rage with hip tech/social start-ups. I would have like to have seen a version with dropped casing to really shake things up. Still, quite a successful transformation! I hope it resonates well with the clients.

Happy 40th Birthday, C.TRAC! And might I add, you don’t look a day over a 5-year-old start-up!

Weigh in. Do you think C.TRAC’s new look feels more in line with their new interactive service lines?  
Which do you prefer?

PS: Bonus Points awarded for the way in which C.TRAC launched their new brand. Company President, Susan Williamson presided over a “countdown to demolition” of the old site/brand; ushering in the dawn of a new era, Vegas Strip style! Nice touch.

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