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Building a new brand filled with empathy
Today, we’re launching our new brand. As you’re reading this blog post, we’re guessing you’d have noticed on your own eventually—what with our new shiny logo, a blazing new set of colors, and a playful new typeface—but we wanted to share more about what’s happening and why.
In true Hotjar spirit and in line with one of our values, we’re building trust with transparency.
Last updated3 Dec 2021
What do we mean by ‘brand’?
‘Brand’ is a term we say a lot, and it’s probably one which you use too, especially if you’re part of a product or marketing team. But it’s also a term which we rarely define.
For us, a brand is a person’s gut feeling about a service or organization. What’s your immediate reaction to, let’s say, McDonald’s or Etsy? And how do brands create those feelings? For our rebrand, we broke this down into three:
How we express ourselves as Hotjar
Our logo, our tone of voice in places like our blog and on our website, or how we look on tote bags, t-shirts, digital banners, and more.
How others experience Hotjar
When people use our products every day, they’re living the experience we provide, whilst at the same time creating an impression of who we are.
How we share our brand as people
Brands take a life of their own when we share stories and talk about them with people we know.
Strong brands make you want to be part of their world
Strong brands make us feel a certain way. And this leads us to do certain things. We’re much more likely to buy from them and talk about them with people at work, friends, or family.
Let’s think about a brand like Patagonia. We talk about Patagonia a lot at Hotjar, and it’s not necessarily down to their products. It’s who they are and what they stand for when it comes to our planet.
At Hotjar, we want to be a brand that can create similar associations and emotions, and whilst Patagonia is a Business to Consumer (B2C) brand, we see Business to Business (B2B) brands pouring a similar amount of emphasis and investment into their brands too. Think Figma or Miro, or any of the other brands you’re used to seeing when working online.
“For me, Hotjar is for start-ups”
We wanted our users to be part of creating our new brand. So, at the start of 2021, we asked people how they felt about us, and this quote above became a theme from their feedback. It still pains us to think that’s how people felt about our brand just six months ago.
Firstly, there’s no problem with being just for startups. In fact, there may have been a time when we loved hearing this. Lots of the product teams we partner with have grown from within start-ups. And we’ve learned and continue to learn so much from the start-up community.
Yet today, Hotjar’s reach has grown beyond just the start-up world. Our audiences are often product teams sitting in organizations of up to 10,000 people. They can also be businesses as small as 50 people, sometimes even smaller.
The one thing we heard from you loud and clear was that our brand wasn't inclusive enough. We were failing to embrace our full community of students, entrepreneurs, SMBs and mid-market enterprises.
Creating our new brand
We knew we needed to do something. We have a culture that’s special to us at Hotjar and an industry-leading product, but that didn’t seem to be getting across to our customers.
To create a brand that would take us into the future—and show the world who we really are—we wanted it to tie together these three areas. Our...
Users and audience
What they wanted to see and how they felt towards us already.
Our vision is to transform user insights into business outcomes, putting people at the center of every product.
We built Hotjar to inspire change through empathy. We imagine a world where all businesses treat you with love.
Hotjar becoming Hotjar
It wasn’t easy combining the three areas above to create our new look and feel. But (together with the wonderful London digital design agency, How&How), we did it, and here’s how.
A new icon
Our new icon, which will usually sit with ‘Hotjar’ to form our logo, is one of the most obvious changes from our old brand. The digitally sketched diagram below shows the things we considered to arrive at this new icon.
We started with a line in motion to represent our users and their individual journeys. Then, in the second sketch, we visualized human connection and our Just Cause with duplication and symmetry. In the third, the flame is to honor our past and caters to audiences who recognize the flame as Hotjar. The three combine to form the icon you’ll soon be seeing everywhere.
Our typography, colors, and other brand elements
Our new typeface is Ambit (by the excellent CoType™ Foundry). Their website talks about it as “inspired by early grotesques, but adapted for the 21st century.” We chose it because it’s legible, clear, and accessible. But it’s also fun, playful, and full of personality. It has an empathetic touch, so we felt it was just the right typeface to headline our product.
A new typography system
Our colors are based on flames, with a mixture of hot and cold hues. Coming back to the word ‘empathy’, it fits with the human spirit we want our brand to convey.
You’ll start noticing elements that we call ‘trace lines’, which are based on Recordings, and represent how people behave online. Our trace lines move in ways that show the range of human emotion; sometimes calm, rounded, and smooth; sometimes jagged and full of frustration or passion.
Working in harmony with the trace lines are orbs of color, inspired by Heatmaps, and a representation of both literal heat, and the figurative warmth of human connection. Then tying these both together, you get our new illustration style, which adds character and humanity to the brand while unifying the elements through their visual treatment.
Our brand has been warmly received so far
One of our values is to put customers at the heart of everything we do. So, staying true to who we are, we gathered a mix of quantitative and qualitative research from 300 different people (mostly non-users to get unbiased opinions) on our new brand. We heard things like:
“The orbs and journeys remind me of user journeys within insights.”
“The logo feels like growth, like an escalator. It symbolizes the connection between qual & quant.”
“The symbol is a simplified flame, a road. It’s uplifting, modern & forward looking.”
“Hotjar makes me feel…”
As you’ve probably gathered, our rebrand was an exercise in how we make people feel, and how we want you to feel about us in the future.
So we wanted to say a huge thank you—really thank you doesn’t feel big enough—to our users. Without you none of this introspection would be possible. We hope you like where we’re heading, why we’ve done it, and the story of how we got there.
And a massive thanks to How&How, the agency we collaborated with on the beautiful work you see here. If you’re ever in the market for a rebrand, we highly recommend them.
We’re also under no illusion that this is the be-all and end-all.
To live our new brand—and for people to feel good about Hotjar—we know we have to continue to be the best we can be for our users, continue giving back in our efforts towards climate justice, and always stay true to the vision, values, and Just Cause that guide us.
Now, we’re proud to say we have something that fits. We’ve built a brand that we hope will help us inspire change through empathy, and one that belongs in a world where all businesses treat you with love.
Behind the scenes
Building in Public 2: Product OKRs that unify, excite, and deliver
Would you believe that we managed to get every discipline equally excited about a single OKR? One that encouraged paying down some expensive tech debt, brought in some much-needed delight to a rather dull area of our product experience, and drove impressive business metrics—all at the same time?
Behind the scenes
Building in Public 3: competency frameworks that help product managers flourish
How do you measure a product manager’s performance? And how do you make sure the criteria you’re using is setting them up for a successful and rewarding career?
At Hotjar, we believe competency frameworks should be empowering. They should help others give feedback, provide transparent guidance about the expectations of a PM's role, and clearly signpost how they can reach the next step in their career.
Behind the scenes
Hotjar vs FullStory
Which one should you choose?