Rainfall Developed Brand Strategy and Graphic Identity Design for Fr8Hub
Rainfall designed an organized experience for Fr8Hub that tailored to each user type and simplified communications with iconography and product images. The result of the collaboration is a brand identity that effectively communicates Fr8Hub’s core values.
Fr8Hub is a technology company founded by experts in the shipping industry who believe that pairing freight with carriers should be quick, effortless, and fair for all parties.
Their users are both shippers who need freight moved rapidly and at low cost, and drivers, who often have trouble finding consistent work that carries them to desired locations, often at the expense of family time and a quality wage.
Fr8Hub’s ambitious goal is to provide a more efficient solution for pairing shippers and carriers using digital tools, which will remove costly middlemen and allow drivers adequate compensation while still reducing the cost for shippers.
Starting at Point A
The initial brief was simple: Develop a brand that communicates the security and transparency of Fr8Hub’s platform to the trucking community and is absent of photography.
This posed a substantial challenge as it meant that Rainfall needed to create all visual elements from scratch, but offered an opportunity for differentiation in a market saturated with heroic images of semis traversing the American landscape.
Fr8Hub is precisely that, a hub where shippers and carriers are constantly connected to maintain a steady stream of goods. Though the name is now written with an “8” this was not always the case. Rainfall explored a number of marks for the name “FreightHub” that communicated the convergence of technology and speed, both literal and abstract in form.
After further discussion, Rainfall decided that by stylizing the spelling of “Fr8” they could symbolize connection, movement, and efficiency through typography alone. At larger sizes, subtle dashes are incorporated into the mark to more literally identify the company’s relationship with the highway.
The resulting wordmark needed to be sturdy yet approachable, so they chose Calibre Bold by Klim Type Foundry for its creation. The typeface was inspired by German street signage, effectively a nod to transportation typographic standards.
Without photography to use as an anchor Rainfall needed to create a strong visual element that would be the basis for promotional materials and instantly recognizable throughout various applications.
Fr8Hub is based in Texas, and after touring the arid landscape of the Southwestern US, Rainfall experienced a recurring theme. Semi-trucks baking in sun-soaked parking lots, casting long shadows with the passing of each day. They distilled this image into a graphic representation of a semi-truck casting a long shadow that suggests a road and the opportunities that lie ahead.
The strength of this mark is that they can separate it into either a tractor or trailer for materials that relate to carriers or shippers, or use the unified image when speaking about the brand as a whole.
Inspired by Signs
From their initial deliberation about Fr8Hub’s identity, they were inspired by the nostalgia of 1950s truck stop and gas station signage, and the bold use of sans serif typography over solid fields of color. After deciding upon Calibre for the mark they quickly determined that it had the flexibility to serve as the brand’s singular typeface, due to its availability in several weights.
Combining light and the bold type became the foundation for communication in Fr8Hub’s marketing materials, symbolizing a dialog between consumers and the brand. Just as Fr8Hub facilitates the transport of goods from Point A to Point B, they also provide answers to consumers’ questions.
By pairing two typographic weights, headlines became metaphorical conversations, resulting in concise messaging that is a dialog with its viewers.
Inspiration from sign painting extended to the creation of a color palette, especially as Rainfall surveyed competitors’ color choices. they found an overwhelming use of green, likely implying that their services move, and light blue, a favorite in product design for its calming and non-confrontational quality.
Avoiding green Rainfall naturally eluded the cliche use of traffic signal colors and instead stepped back into the Texas heat for insight. A bolder collection of colors emerged which reference early branding for Mobil, Phillips 66, Gulf, and Conoco.
A need for simplicity led to the sweeping use of what they call Rich Blue, Warm Orange, and white, with additional secondary colors including Dry Red, Pavement, and black for contrast.
Truck drivers experience a patchwork of landscapes in their line of work, from ceaseless farmland to rugged mountains, to the rising skylines of metropolitan areas, often within a single trip. The connections between multiple environments are in themselves hubs and distillation of movement and progression.
Using aerial photographs as a reference Rainfall created a system of individual patterns that can be combined in myriad ways to create unique visual textures for use on branded materials both large and small.
Custom icons are essential for all of their clients because they efficiently communicate information while illustrating the brand’s personality. For Fr8Hub every icon was constructed from a series of lines to imply the many available routes and shipping lanes provided by the platform.
An ever-evolving family of icons range in function from simple wayfinding aids to more detailed informational concepts and work effectively at all sizes for both print and digital applications.
Finishing at Point B
A close partnership with the team at Fr8Hub resulted in a brand that connects the spirit of truck driving with the sophistication of contemporary design. Over the course of several months, Rainfall had the opportunity to develop and test materials directly with consumers prior to launch.
An iterative process encouraged constant refinement and resulted in an identity that effectively speaks with its audience and communicates Fr8Hub’s values of efficiency, transparency, and trust with considerable impact.
What is Fr8Hub
Fr8Hub is a marketplace that connects shippers with carriers more efficiently and at a lower cost than existing methods. A centralized digital platform provides the tools necessary for shippers to easily post the freight they need to be moved, and for drivers to find those loads to transport.
For both parties, desktop and mobile tools facilitate the transfer of necessary documentation and enable communication and shipment status updates from initial posting to final delivery.
Fr8Hub must cater to two types of users, each with a unique set of needs and technical know-how.
Shippers are companies with goods to move. Their freight might be pallets of bottled water, frozen food, or car engines. Regardless, it needs to arrive at its destination without delay. Shippers are no strangers to digital tools but were accustomed to finding drivers by posting individual shipments to Load Boards, antiquated platforms that buried opportunities through a lack of intelligent organization.
Carriers, or owner-operators, are men and women driving the tractors needed to carry shipments. They are accustomed to browsing load boards but are often forced to rely on third-party brokers to find shipments to their desired destinations.
Instead, utilizing mobile tools greatly increases their ability to efficiently find new jobs while on the road, as well as manage the logistics related to their current load.
What Rainfall Did
Rainfall designed an intuitive experience that streamlines interaction for both shippers and carriers and caters to their individual behaviors. By developing an efficient and engaging interaction model, more loads are posted, more drivers earn better wages, and more users return to the marketplace, choosing Fr8Hub over its competitors.
A Map Is Central to the Product Experience
From the moment a shipment is approved, its ongoing location and progress towards the intended destination are paramount. Rainfall put a map at the center of the experience and built all interactions around it. From a single location, carriers can view their entire fleet, and shippers get real-time updates of all loads in progress.
Posting Equipment to the fr8hub Marketplace
Carriers and drivers are brought on board by enrolling their equipment in the marketplace. This is as simple as specifying their desired origin and destinations, indicating a qualified driver (which may be themselves), and adding certified tractors and trailers. Shipping lane preferences can be adjusted at any time, allowing carriers to adapt to market demand.
Pairing a Driver With an Available Load
After carriers and drivers have enrolled their equipment on the platform they will see all available freight that matches their preferences and can choose to bid on enticing shipments. After indicating the minimum price per mile for which they’d carry a load, the driver’s bid is sent to the shipper for approval, and a match is made.
Carrying the Load
After connecting a shipper with a carrier, Fr8Hub’s platform manages all communication and document coordination necessary for proper pickup, transport, and drop off including the bill of lading and insurance information.
Throughout the life of the job all parties can connect via instant message, and the driver can update the shipper if there are any issues along the route. Shippers also have access to real-time location information for all of their open jobs.
Dropping It Off
At the destination, Fr8Hub’s location services inform the shipper when their load has been delivered, and the Bill of Lading is confirmed by the receiver electronically. It is immediately processed and drivers are paid in a matter of hours rather than days.
Expediting reimbursement allows carriers to operate their business without factoring, which promotes engagement with the platform and higher driver supply for shippers.
The Style Guide
Fr8Hub is constantly evolving in order to serve its many users better. To facilitate rapid development and the exploration of new ideas, Rainfall designed a series of components that can be used to build new features in iterative cycles while maintaining the integrity of the brand.
These product style guides exist digitally and as large-format posters that can be folded into a portable size, just like road maps.
The Marketing Website
Just as Fr8Hub can be used on the go, so can the marketing site. A fully responsive design allows for browsing and signing up from any device, anywhere.
An informative marketing site was necessary to inform shippers and carriers of the advantages of the Fr8Hub platform and offer a glimpse of the product. Rainfall created an organized experience that catered to each user type and simplified messaging through iconography and product visuals.
Even the biggest skeptics can’t resist trying a platform that offers better wages for drivers without increased shipping costs.
For all user types, the marketing site effortlessly guides them into the onboarding funnel, allowing a choice between immediate signup or valet assistance.
Fr8Hub has seen strong traction in its early stages as an increasing number of shippers and carriers return to the platform after each successful load. Constant iteration and testing make the product is a joy to use and promotes the importance of user experience to the success of the platform.
Rainfall designs brand experiences, from digital products, interfaces, and websites, to alluring visual identities.
They love both coasts and have studios in New York City and Seattle where they build delightful and effective solutions for a wide range of clients.