CARFAX Canada, a unit of IHS Markit (Nasdaq: INFO), is Canada’s definitive source of automotive information, delivering vehicle history, appraisal and valuation. Formerly CARPROOF, CARFAX Canada was bought by CARFAX (another unit of HIS Markit) in the United States in December of 2015. The announcement to rebrand from CARPROOF to CARFAX Canada came in March of 2019 with the goal of further aligning the two companies and their data as well as leveraging CARFAX’s globally recognized brand. The company officially became CARFAX Canada on November 1st, 2019 and continues to operate as a separate company from CARFAX USA.
The rebranding process began in March 2019 when it was announced both internally then shortly externally that after 15 years CARPROOF would change it’s name to CARFAX Canada who had recently purchased us. This was a change that we embraced, especially on the consumer side of the business. It would allow us to take advantage of a name brand to effectively market our products. As a design team in the marketing department our job quickly became clear: to completely rebrand the company in every way. We focused on three main categories: internal, dealer, and consumer.
During this time at CARPROOF I worked as a multimedia designer on the Marketing team. My job was to focus on mostly web and video content as well as working with the team on collaborative projects that would need our full involvement. As a team of 3 designers without any creative lead or director we made and executed almost everything seen here and were forced to make tough decisions as we designed for short turn-arounds.
It took about two months for things to start rolling on the rebrand. It had been announced in March that the launch date was end of October so there was no reason to panic. The initial idea was a simple logo swap and to replace the words CARPROOF with CARFAX Canada anywhere we could find. From a marketing standpoint, this quickly became an obsolete idea as there were too many moving pieces to simply do a logo-swap. In May of 2019 we started work on the rebrand, hiring a project manager for only the rebrand to make sure everything would run smoothly. He detailed our first project: creating the brand guide. The deadline was two weeks and we didn’t really have anything to go off of for this new CARFAX Canada brand other than the logo. We quickly brainstormed and sketched ideas out to create this new brand guide and vision of what we thought the company should look like going forwards.
The guide encompassed our logos, colours, fonts, image treatment, etc. The brand identity came from taking our past brand and merging it with CARFAX USA’s brand as well as new emerging design trends. The most notable and visual change you will see throughout this study is the moving from reds to blues and blacks to whites. This was based off of both CARFAX’s brand but also how we wanted to carry ourselves going forwards, as a bright transparent company.
Once the brand guide was settled on we quickly began adding tasks to our project sheets, which at one point totalled over 1000 different items to rebrand, both print and digitally. Between 3 designers this was an enormous challenge but one that we took on with pride. It’s not everyday you get to rebrand a multi-million dollar company.
Even though we had barely scratched the surface in terms of completing our rebrand tasks, the company wanted us to focus on large internal projects, specifically the office walls and office branding. I understand their stress on this because unless you’re a designer you really don’t SEE the rebrand until you see the change internally. We focused all our efforts to collaborate on these walls that we think aligned extremely well with our brand guide we had finalized only a few weeks before. We focused on three major things: bright colours, Canadian imagery, and impactful messaging. This again was a huge change from the previous red and black walls which had dominated the office. Bringing out these colours really changed people’s perspective on the rebrand and made it “real” for them so to speak. Below are some shots of the wall mockups and the real things side-by-side.
As internal branding began to wind-down, dealer branding picked up for me especially. For car dealers, we had always been CARPROOF and there was a time where CARFAX was our bitter rival in Canada and we worked hard to establish ourselves as the Canadian automotive brand you can trust.
With our name change we had to push to keep that trust and in some instances win that trust back. Design therefore was an extremely important element in all of this, keeping with our brand guides but also giving room to be innovative and really push what we had been doing in previous years. With the confidence of the marketing team I got to work on some pretty special projects, mostly on my own, allowing me to really put time into each task.
Our Success Stories page and Driving Insights page are both are ways to push dealers to our site to generate revenue but they also serve the greater purpose of educating dealers about what we do in the industry and how we can help them everyday, whether or not they are buying our reports. Some examples of the sites can be seen below, as well as the before and after images to see the progression. Driving Insights, a blog created by Drew Harden at CARFAX Canada is basically an informational and research blog for car dealerships across Canada. One of my tasks is to use Drew's valuable research and make it interesting for the audience. This form of data visualization is incredibly important to keep dealers engaged and help our new brand resonate with them.
On top of these designs I also had to create web templates for blogs, emails, and landing pages that the marketing team would use to promote products, special announcements and just general communication to dealers. These continue to serve as some of the templates we use everyday but are ever changing to meet the needs of our dealers as well as trends in the design world.
While I focused mostly on web and UX for dealers, I also took on some print jobs to help alleviate pressure on my fellow designers. These included new banners and signs that hang at our automotive auction locations and sell sheets that the sales team uses when doing dealer visits to generate conversation and help make a sale. The sell sheets were another example into the time and effort we all put in to make sure these look as good as they can and embody our brand in the best way possible.
Though our dealer business drives most of our revenue, the consumer side of things is where we want to grow the business. This was a huge reason for the rebrand in the beginning, to leverage CARFAX’s name recognition and then to create great products and a great brand that consumers will react to.
Educating the consumer is a large part of the retail side of the business, especially with the rebrand. This video was taken from an older "what is a lien" video that was CARPROOF branded. It's essentially a simple explanation video of what a Lien is and what you should know when dealing with used cars that have liens on them.
In terms of creating a greater consumer base, it all starts with the website, particularly the home page. The team and I spent a great deal of time trying out different images/layouts to achieve the best possible result. We kept with the brand guideline and our identity swapping dark colours for bright and transparent images. You can see these images below or browse the site live at Carfax.ca. The ordering page which you can see live here also has a history to it in which I got to re-do it completely over a year before the rebrand. You can read about that story here.
Education consumers is important especially in a field like automotive remarketing. It is a bit of a boring industry and really only comes to someone’s mind when they need something (buying a car, selling a car, etc.). With this in mind educating consumers underneath the banner of CARFAX is a great way to create engagement and awareness of both the industry and our brand. These are some social media graphics I branded for CARFAX Canada during the rebrand.
This project was a massive undertaking that required basically my full attention for six months while juggling other non-rebrand projects and my own life. It was a tremendous learning experience and with our unique team, I was able to exercise a lot of creative direction on things I normally wouldn’t be able to and had the chance to shape the brand for a multi-million dollar company for years to come. I’m incredibly proud of everything we achieved here and know that the best is yet to come.