The Brand Identity

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PORTO ROCHA’s identity for freelance platform Upwork signifies their dedication to community

Faced with an international shift towards remote and freelance working due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the offering from global freelance platform Upwork has become more relevant than ever before, yet their brand failed to convey their formidable network and vibrant community. In need of an update, Upwork turned to New York-based design studio PORTO ROCHA, resulting in a playful, engaging and earnest identity system.

Collaborative at its very core, the identity mirrors Upwork’s business by enlisting the help of a remarkable collection of creatives, including illustrators, animators and photographers to emphasise and convey their story, their talent and their dedication to human connection and community.  

“We worked with three different illustrators to capture the idea of diversity and collaboration,” Senior Designer Joseph Lebus tells us, “the hand-drawn, painterly quality brought warmth, personality, and an analogue quality to the illustrations,” Lebus adds, a tone they saw as necessary to convey the humanity and personality of the brand, especially while existing often in a purely digital environment.

The notion of collaboration continues in the combining of Upwork’s name into a single word, as well as the diligent execution and creation of typefaces within the identity, including a bespoke cut of Pangram Pangram Foundry’s Neue Montreal. Partnered with Upwork Neue Montreal is Upwork Rza, a customised version of the serif typeface that, together, constructs the contrasting typographic system that lays the foundations of the identity. 

“We chose Rza as it offered a strong contrast to Neue Montreal in a way that spoke to the two sides of Upwork,” Lebus explains, “the credibility of their service on the one hand, and the distinctiveness of their talent on the other;” two components of Upwork that are demonstrated in the tandem expression of pragmatism and personality. Recalling the customisation of Rza, “the x-height and baseline of the letterforms were adjusted to be identical to Neue Montreal,” Lebus notes, “allowing us to combine the two typefaces in a way that ensures they are coming from the same place,” in doing so reflecting the effortlessness of Upwork’s process. 

Maintaining certain elements from the brand’s previous identity, such as the prominent use of green, PORTO ROCHA also updated the iconic ligature between ‘U’ and ‘P;’ creating an immediately ownable and recognisable form. “We liked the sense of movement and energy it brought to the wordmark,” Lebus explains, “and wanted to retain that in the new version,” making minor tweaks to the individual letterforms to create a seamless flourish. “In doing so,” Lebus recalls, “our aim was to take the best of what they had before.”

Typefaces: Neue Montreal (customised) by Pangram Pangram Foundry / Rza (customised) by Out of the Dark
Portolio photography: Sarah Hopp
Brand photography: Geordie Wood
Illustration: Martin Nicolausson / Roberts Rurans / Tania Yakunova

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