Glassdoor has a new look, and a new brand compass guiding it forward to help everyone find a job that fits their life. With a renewed focus on users, Glassdoor is notably more modern, clean and purposeful.
At the front of the redesign is a new logo, featuring a jewel-toned green door-shape. A new color palette, font, brand attributes, voice & tone definition and impactful product refresh round out the biggest redesign in Glassdoor’s nearly 9-year history. A rewiring of this magnitude required teams at all levels working in close collaboration, as the new look and feel touched every aspect of the business.
Enter Marisa Lehnert, Glassdoor’s Creative Director, and Neil Campbell, Director of User Experience for Glassdoor Product, working side-by-side, charged with the brand and product refresh. The two led a cross-functional team creating a new brand identity while reimagining Glassdoor’s global digital products — shaping the way the world views jobs and recruiting.
The three of us caught up during the final days before the refresh went live to talk about the design process and what they hope job seekers and employers will love about the new Glassdoor.
Amy Elisa Jackson: You’ve spent the last 7 or 8 months reimagining one of the world’s largest and fast-growing jobs’ sites. And you did it. How does it feel?
Marisa Lehnert: Exciting! This is why I came to Glassdoor. I wanted to come here to help tell a more beautiful brand story and we did. That was actually in my pitch during my interview with CMO Moody [Glasgow].
Amy Elisa: That was about a year and a half ago?
Marisa: Yep. Moody wanted to show more of a human component to the job search and show more personality to the brand.
Amy Elisa: Some people might say this looks like a whole new site. A rebrand, if you will. But you insist it’s a refresh. Why?
Neil Campbell: It's a fresh coat of paint on the house instead of full tear-down/rebuild. We have a pretty solid foundation and this is the first step in a renovation. New windows, and dare I say doors, are on order and the architectural plans are already being drafted for future improvements.
Marisa: Refresh, yes. There are some sacred cows we just wouldn’t touch, like our connection to the color green…
Amy Elisa: Sacred cow? What’s that?
Marisa: It’s a Marisa-ism.
Neil: After working with her all these months, I understand what it means.
Amy Elisa: Ah okay.
Neil: From the product side, and perhaps in CEO Robert Hohman’s mind, the pivotal moment was getting to see the brand attributes come to life in a way that we could start to visualize the impact a refresh could have on the product itself. It gave us a focal point to build a meaningful experience that really inspires people.
Marisa: At the same time, Robert wanted to “take our homepage back,” which was his way of saying that when people come to Glassdoor they should know it’s Glassdoor and we should have a dynamic presence.
Amy Elisa: Talk to me about the timeline of this process. When did you get the green light?
Marisa: Exploring what a refresh could look like started in August. I stood in front of the executive team presenting three different looks and feels for what the brand could be in October. When they saw the very abstract concept of our app icon and what that can look like companywide, Robert and co-founder Tim Besse got really excited and saw the potential. That’s when I got the okay to just go for it. Product design got the go ahead then to start iterating on the homepage, and we were looking at fleshed out designs in December.
Amy Elisa: Marisa, your creative design team is 4 people total. How did you all pull this off?
Marisa: We had to be scrappy and fully transparent internally. It was great to build an in-house design team to help educate people and train people on how to work with designers. Plus, we have a fully equipped facilities team, finance team and HR that all understand design and collaborated to make this happen. We also brought in an amazing agency, Nelson Cash. They really approached the brand from a scientific perspective which was very fascinating creatively. Hundreds and hundreds of sketches of doors on Post-It notes — letter shapes and the round edges make it feel more human, plus we really looked at organic shapes and reflections through glass.
Neil: In terms of the scale of this endeavor, the magnitude surprised and overwhelmed us at times. I think any large project like this does because of the vast number of stakeholders, inputs and the diversity of our customers. As designers we work hard to achieve excellence in the face of adversity. Our craft demands this and I’m proud of how well the team adapted to change and shifting requirements.
Marisa: We had to hone in on the important stakeholders and refine that throughout the process. It's super important to have a great environment for criticism so that required all of us to think outside the box and not have ego about our designs.
Amy Elisa: I’m sure everyone had an opinion about the homepage redesign. Did the process ever feel like a game of ping-pong, just bouncing ideas back and forth?
Marisa: We did all that competitive research too where we just looked at every search homepage imaginable. Anyone with a search bar on a homepage we print it out and look at it and dissected it. Then we went back to our brand attributes and what our users wanted. Focus groups helped us with that, and the feedback was loud and clear.
Amy Elisa: Why change the green to a jewel-toned emerald?
Marisa: That was a big discussion. We liked the fact that the color evoked a sense of “go”, as well as emerald tones in general, are just a sign of optimism and opportunity. It felt positive, on trend.
Amy Elisa: From a product design perspective, were you excited about the new Glassdoor green? The old color wasn’t ADA compliant and looked different on various screens.
Neil: What excited me, even more, was the brand identity that was wrapped up in the color. It wasn’t until we got deep into the weeds and started extracting elements of the work that Marisa and team had started. Seeing all of this juxtaposed, old vs new, we realized, “Wow, the old color is very different.” The opportunities became very clear seeing these two color systems side by side as they were doing the investigation work. The entire product organization saw that there was a lot of opportunities to modernize the entire color system across the product.
Marisa: I remember that “a-ha moment” when we were all in a room and we showed a quick preview of the new logo and identity that I have made in the nav and it was like, “Whoa.” Everyone got excited.
Amy Elisa: And that a-ha moment is what we hope job seekers and customers will have.
Marisa: Globally, it’s going to be nuts. Rolling this out internationally is huge and we’re excited to see how people are going to respond. That is a huge risk to take, but change is good. Change is not scary. Change is a positive thing and it's going to put us in a better place.
Neil: One of the biggest wins for the product design piece of this is when we moved from just simply changing our physical logo to wanting to come up with product expressions of our updated value propositions. Once we started to move into that phase, there were a whole lot of opportunity to recreate our systems; colors, font, spacing, padding, margins, etc.. The vision for our execution was a complete up-tick in the usability, legibility, modernization and overall aesthetic of the site.
Amy Elisa: You mentioned risk and how risky this endeavor was especially for you, Marisa, who led the charge even as a new hire. You’re like Mel Gibson in Braveheart.
Marisa: I will wear war paint during our All Hands meeting.
Amy Elisa: You should! You led the troops all across the org. All those sleepless nights, and I’m sure you had nightmares.
Marisa: I have seen the door-shape logo decapitating me slowly.
Neil: The momentum Marisa was able to create around getting people excited about the brand again and what it could be...We took that spirit and we injected that into the site redesign and said, “Okay we're going to put a new face on this company and it’s gonna be sexy!”
Marisa: We had long, extensive conversations about who we wanted to be and what our users wanted from us. Then we honed in on our core brand attributes that get to the heart of Glassdoor of helping and empowering people with authentic and trusted insights. Once we had those, they became the glasses through which we saw everything through. That’s the core of how we led the entire company towards this refresh.
Amy Elisa: Lessons learned? What did this process teach you, professionally?
Marisa: Patience. I came from a tech startup via POPSUGAR where everything was “go time.” I rebranded or refreshed the brand five times, almost once a year. Glassdoor is more calculated. I had to take the steps, prove myself and convince people of what I could do. I had to take baby steps. My team calls me DJ Baby Steps.
Amy Elisa: <Laughing> That’s what they call you?
Marisa: Yes, as a design team we all had to be patient and lay the groundwork. But the passion has always been there. Now we have a brand that has a renewed spirit behind it with a powerful meaning and a purpose that shows. We embody that purpose to help everyone find a job that they love.
Neil: I was reminded about the importance of clarity in the design process around what we’re trying to do, why, and what we are actually trying to solve for our users. Keeping the user top-of-mind is key. Also, I learned to never underestimate the power and passion of our team to do excellent work when they’re drawn to the charge of doing so. We all worked incredibly hard in a short amount of time to bring this to life.
Amy Elisa: Any plans on a vacation or getting some R&R after months of 14-hour days and little sleep?
Marisa: I’m going to China and Cambodia for two weeks— I call it “The C&C”
Neil: Is there a Music Factory component to the C&C?
Amy Elisa: <Laughing> There must be for a little ‘90s nostalgia.
Neil: My R&R will probably be more down the road because the refresh launches the day that we close on our new house and I’ll be mired in packing, moving. Once we're settled in, we’ll get up to Tahoe.
Neil: So much of what we did on the site was incredibly successful and hopefully the metrics continue to prove that, but there’s so much more we can do. From a product perspective, we made massive strides and really did change the way users perceive and engage with the site, but we didn’t update any of the core functionality.
Amy Elisa: That can be the next iteration— 2.0.
Neil: There’s so much untapped opportunity here. The possibilities are endless.