In 2019, the brand strategy, voice, tone, and visual style was relaunched and documented in a new brand book. View select pages of the comprehensive guidelines and read about the process. Brand Book

Select Pages Below

Use the buttons above to explore select brand book pages.

By a miracle, this brand book was created at the same time’s first through-the-line brand and direct response campaign was launched utilizing the new brand materials. This meant the brand materials, guidelines — including this book, landing pages, varied videos, and display, email, and print materials were all produced in the same few month period under the visual and content direction of Ashleigh’s small in-house team. The campaign that launched with the brand will be posted separately; stay tuned.


What Went Into It

Up until 2018, the identity evolved organically rather than strategically.


In 2018, the small business audience segment was the first chosen for customer research due to the market opportunity uncovered by Automattic’s Chief Business Officer, Catherine Stewart. The Automattic design team hired a professional design researcher, Lynne Polischuik, and compiled a steering committee, including Boon Sheridan, to facilitate the customer research. The result of this effort was helpful to product and marketing teams, but specifically supported the creation of this brand book by outlining how small business customers exist along a spectrum with different goals, different worries, different strengths, and different website know how — that each need support. This became the basis of the Customer Snapshot section of the brand book, which educates employees and partners on core audiences.

Auditing the Past & Present

In the fall of 2018, The Studio — the in-house creative agency Ashleigh Axios ran within Automattic — audited the visual styles for the company’s biggest brand, This audit showcased the brand visual identity at the time and compared it with previous versions. The boards created in the process summarized the styles for each timeframe in a single view, showcasing the logo, primary and secondary colors, typography, photography, iconography, illustration, and texture. Another page was added to show real marketing solutions in each style.

Imagining the Future

The team was then tasked by the VP of Brand, Michelle Broderick, with establishing three distinct and hypothetical visual directions for Far from proposals or solutions, these were crafted specifically to be shared with the project’s key stakeholders to spark conversation that would generate insights on internal perceptions of’s authentic look and feel. This exercise also served as a challenging, but effective design and copy warm up before the real rebrand.

Research & Brand Strategy

During this time, brand research and strategy was conducted with members of The Studio, a cross-functional group within Automattic, and an outside consultancy. This process facilitated candid discussions and explorations leading to the identification of the Automattic brand archetype, sub-archetype, and brand prism. When the strategy concluded, Michelle Broderick gave The Studio the go ahead to begin establishing a new messaging framework, voice and tone, and look and feel that combined insights from all of the above into the final book, seen at the top of this page.



October–December 2018

January 2019


  • Chris Taylor: (client)

    • Marketing direction

  • Michelle Broderick: (client & project partner)

    • Brand approvals

  • Ashleigh Axios: creative direction & design operations

    • Brand book design and content review

    • Project and design strategy

  • Ashley vonClausburg: design

    • Brand book

    • Imagining the Future, direction 1

  • Greg Fox: copy

    • Brand messaging framework

    • Brand book copy editing

  • Michelle Weber: copy

    • Brand messaging

    • Brand book copy editing

  • Jared Granger: design

    • Imagining the Future, direction 3

    • Brand book support

    • Typography guidelines

  • Eriko Kawakami: design

    • Dual circle

    • Product color direction

  • Ballio Chan: design

    • Motion guidelines

    • Imagining the Future, direction 2

  • Dominik Porada: design

    • color guidelines & tool

  • Alison Rand: design operations support
    (jury duty project coverage)

  • John Maeda: creative direction support
    (jury duty project coverage)


Colleagues across Automattic supported the effort to establish the brand strategy, provided feedback on the brand visual and messaging strategy, and reviewed the book with an eye towards clarity, consistency, and quality.