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Boulevard Design Launch: An Interview With Sr. Art Director, Wood Simmons


By Boulevard

Human scrappiness, hairy floors, and other essential inspiration for Boulevard’s updated look

Boulevard has a new look. While our aim to provide the best software for the self-care industry hasn’t changed, the way we tell people about who we are has. Like the clients who walk out of our customers’ doors, it’s a looking good, feeling good situation — all with enough edge that folks will remember who they’re working with.

How’d we decide where to walk the line between easy-on-the-eyes approachability and fierce, off-beat energy, and what exactly did we want to accomplish? It all started with a laser focus on our customers.  We empower appointment-based, self-care businesses to give their clients more of the magical moments that matter most. And since we strive to give our customers the same incredible feeling they provide to their clients, we wanted our brand to reflect that.  

The creative process was a true team effort, but Senior Art Director, Wood Simmons oversaw the visual language of the updated brand. So we asked him for some details on how everything came together, cumulating with our new website.

What was your main goal with this new direction?

Wood Simmons: The big focus was on figuring out how we showcase the culture that we serve; those people who know what it's like to wake up with hair splinters in their arms and sweep floors every day. So we wanted to take what we had, that classic, clean software startup look with a sweet and easy to use feeling, then add to it a touch of that human scrappiness. We wanted to show the people that actually do this thing all day, every day, and then add some quirky illustrations and typography, basing it a little more in that messy, imperfect, human reality.

How did the redesign begin?

WS: It was about an eight-month process, starting with six to nine different directions of what it could look like: breaking the rules, going for safe stuff, and everything in between. Then we combed it down to three main options by showing them to the team and kind of Frankensteining the pieces together. Once that was in place, we brought my oldest illustration buddy Logan Faerber to help bring the lines to life, and things began to take shape.

With the logo, for instance, our big effort was making it work a little harder. We wanted to keep to that traditional Boulevard logo since it’s a cool mark, but we also wanted it to spell out B-L-V-D within the “B” since that’s part of how we talk about ourselves. Then in terms of typefaces and other design elements, it was very important to use open-source stuff because we're a software company. We need to make sure that we and all of our partners can work with something that's easy to find and clean.

On the visual side, we found a photographer named Gianni Gallant who had all of the right ingredients to bring our vision to life. 

Tell us more about working with Gianni Gallant

WS: We looked at a bunch of different photographers that helped inspire each of those big directions I mentioned before. His was that “very clean but also with a switchblade” kind of look and feel. I always describe it as like a hyper-modern office space that has the thrashiest, punkiest bathrooms of all time, covered in stickers, broken porcelain. But then the rest is just super clean. So it's kind of a surprise.

Once we brought him in, our creative team spent a few weeks brainstorming where we wanted to shoot and which customers we could highlight. We wanted to showcase different types of customers across salons, medspas, barbers, and so on, but also kind of bring an unexpected edge to them in the process. Then for their clients, we got a big variety of models that felt like real people in our communities - not stereotypical models. That part was super important to us since we believe self-care is for everyone.

Why was highlighting Boulevard’s customers so essential?

WS: It's such a secretive, massive industry, which is also what drew me to it. Like when the world was ending at the start of the pandemic, it was toilet paper and haircuts that meant the most. Out of everything we could ask for, like water and food, it was toilet paper and haircuts that made people miss their old lives the most.

Making the customers a central part of that visual identity is a way of showcasing an almost underserved culture. And it’s an industry that deserves world-class software like Boulevard. So how do we show that we're working with the people that do this every day? Let's just show them being themselves. It's like becoming a mirror, almost — we’re striving to capture that slice of life that shows we know what goes into making people feel their best.

What should brands considering a refresh aim for?

WS: As funny as it is, you want to redesign everything to be invisible. You want to fade into the backdrop but be the spine of whatever else is going on in your industry. It's about being easy to use, easy to interpret, and easy to join in with the conversation wherever your people are. You want all that stuff to be able to live and breathe organically within this invisible brand.

For us, it’s an ongoing process of trying to align everything. We're at the point where, from a branding standpoint, we're trying to clean out the tool shed and then introduce new tools. The strategy is always going to be the heart and the intent of that visual ID. So all those parts will kind of dance together as we figure out what's working and what's not, and where is that human truth that we're after in what we do?

What do you hope people really connect with in this new look?

WS: The big hope is that people in the self-care industry see we're part of their world. I was super inspired by Matt [Danna, Boulevard CEO and co-founder] and Sean [Stavropoulos, Boulevard CTO and co-founder] running around to different salons, working the front desk and shadowing the industry for a good while. So we’re trying to keep that spirit alive where we don’t feel like some outside force trying to make inroads. Lots of our staff have experience in the self-care industry. We’ve opened and closed the shop. We've swept hairy floors. We’ve worked in medspas.  We’ve run salons and spas.

Again, you want to be that platform that becomes invisible then steps back and allows the people to do what the people want to do. For our customers, that’s to run a successful business with friends and all the wonderful weirdos who make up this industry, and to make your clients feel better than they did when they first walked through your door.

Boulevard delivers the first and only Client Experience Platform purpose-built for appointment-based, self-care businesses. Want in on the magic? Get a demo now

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