Designing Swag and Culture: Unveiling the Remarkable Spirit of Showmax Engineering
As a marketer, it's always a great feeling to see people happy with a product you've helped promote or enjoying the cool stuff you've made to create a buzz around a brand. When it comes to employer branding, it's pretty much the same story. Everything we create is meant for people to enjoy and share. In this look-back post, I'd like to tell you the story of the Showmax Engineering brand and how much we loved working on all the branded stuff that we now see our colleagues wearing or using in the office, at our events, and during their free time.
For five years, Showmax Engineering didn't have a dedicated employer branding manager or a designer to handle the designs needed for online promotions and events. We pretty much dealt with things as they came up. One story I heard was about a hiring event where the team ordered light yellow t-shirts simply because they wanted to stand out. Nobody really cared about the brand colors, which were primarily black with pink and grey accents.
Showmax team at the COFIT conference back in 2018.
This approach resulted in having several versions of the logo or logo splash, which led to my first mistake when I tried to upload the same logo icon to all our social media accounts. Unfortunately, I ended up replacing the new one on one social network with the old one, which dominated the rest of the networks. We needed to bring some order to the chaos and create a brand guide. It took us a good six months to get there.
The team used two versions of the logo icon and different versions of the logo and the logo icon in the static logo version and its animated splash.
No More Going With Our Gut Feelings
We knew we were building a brand that would hopefully last for years. So, we reached out to Daniel Valčík, our Product Design Solution Lead, to do some research, provide recommendations, and create an inspiration board. Since we were proposing a brand and logo derived from the main Showmax brand but creating a new sub-entity, we needed to sell both the idea and the proposed solution. Fortunately, we made the right choice in picking Daniel to help us, as his recommendation paved the way for success with the central team. So, starting in 2021, we had just one logo. Alongside Michaela Mašková (Míša), our contracted designer, we put together the brand guide. Then, we embarked on the fun part – working on our swag.
The Team That Doesn't Need Promotion
Looking back, I can see that the time when we were laying the foundation – the brand, logo, and logo style guide – was a fantastic "incubation" period for Míša and me to get to know the team, its spirit, and its approach to self-promotion (basically, they despise it). The folks at Showmax are genuinely nice, open, and caring about the impact they have on people around them and on the world in general, and they have a fantastic sense of humor. They also, for the most part, love their sports. Knowing this mindset, we approached the swag with a focus on making it practical (no more wasteful items), ensuring high quality, and making sure everything matched well to create a cohesive look.
This is our very own and favorite, soft and warm hoodie.
The new logo allowed us to create a series for various occasions. This one is for alumni, while another one was designed for Showmax teachers.
The reusable party and event cups have two design types.
Weekend or business travel backpack and the cap that comes in handy at the summer offsites.
The Top Swag Items
What we're most proud of, and what kept Míša burning the midnight oil, is the sports set. We designed a softshell jacket, sports t-shirt, headband, and cycling dress, all produced in collaboration with the Lavi sportswear brand. Since everyone's opinion matters at Showmax, we took a vote to pick the best design. Below, you'll find the shortlist of the designs.
And here is the one that emerged as the winner. We call it the Chip design.
The pattern combines a microchip subtly connecting engineering with a runner on the "chip track." Most people ordered the black version, which made us happy since it matched the brand colors perfectly.
Softshell jackets with the chip design.
The cycling set: headband and the t-shirt (left) and the runners t-shirt (right).
As the chip design was the most elegant, clean, relevant, and the universal symbol of the engineering team it represented, we used it on plastic cups and all the invites to the sports events, not just on the sports apparel.
Eventually, we also applied the design to the name cards used for reserving a table after implementing a flexible desk policy.
The Fun Stuff
In 2021, our team leaders launched a fantastic initiative: defining the team values that we were already living by but hadn't put down in writing yet. The goal was to keep these values intact, even as the team was rapidly growing and working in a hybrid mode. Through various workshops and discussions with team members, we came up with a set of ten values. Our job was to introduce these values to the team and help everyone (especially newcomers) embrace them.
First, we took on the challenge of sharing our company's values in a fun way. Since there was a ton of paper used for boring presentations and guides about our values, we decided to save time, energy, and paper by putting our values on stickers. We got inspiration from comics, movies, and the IT world. You can see what we came up with below.
We placed one of the stickers on kids' T-shirts distributed during the Kids' Day at the office.
Badges & Pins
Next, we thought about how to get folks excited about living these values. We heard some team members talking about fun company pins, so we combined these ideas and created a system to recognize and reward people who embody these values with a pin. It was a more significant task than just creating another branded item, but working with Zita Pivcová (Head of HR) and Anička Hlaváčková (formerly from HR at Showmax) went as smoothly as always. Together, we defined the system, its levels, and how people would collect simple badges and quickly designed the pins to earn a metal pin. You can check out the pin designs below.
Anyone who collects three of the same basic badges earns a metal pin.
The first pin comes for free when you join Showmax.
The Final Touches
Last year brought two new items that we've been thoroughly enjoying. First, we have a sofa adorned with the same patterns you've seen on the pins. We bring it with us to events where we chat with people about Showmax and how we operate. The idea for the sofa came up after a conversation with Daniel, who presented the concept of Showmax as a cinema in our customers' pockets — a cinematic experience accessible from the comfort of a living room sofa. The second exciting addition is our sweatpants, designed after the last wave of COVID-19 and enjoyed during our last offsite in Znojmo.
The Proud Moments
One of our proudest moments has been witnessing our colleagues wearing our sportswear at company offsites, relaxing on the office sofa, or proudly adorning their backpacks with our cultural pins. What takes this pride to the next level is when our swag breaks out of the office bubble and starts popping up in family members’ closets or at public events, not just within the company. It's incredible to see our softshell jacket featured in photos from public marathons or to spot our caps and kids' t-shirts proudly worn at popular spots in the heart of Prague. We've most probably succeeded in creating a genuinely beloved brand.
Our journey to establish and refine the Showmax Engineering brand has been exciting. From the early days when we grappled with logo versions and brand colors to creating a cohesive brand guide, we've come a long way. We've learned the importance of aligning our brand with the values and spirit of our incredible team, and we've found innovative ways to recognize and reward those who embody these values.
Our swag, from the sports set to the fun company pins, reflects the Showmax Engineering brand and the unity and shared experiences that make our team so special. These items have become more than branded merchandise - symbolising our collective journey and commitment to excellence.
A special thank you to Nikol for presenting most of the swag in the photos!