MINING.COM is an online news destination for the global mining and metals industry. Established in 2008, the brand had been largely untouched since its days as a print magazine. In June 2019 my team and I launched the rebranded MINING.COM. Join me as I dig into the processes and design methodology used to create this brand.
The end goal of rebranding MINING.COM was to modernize the look and feel while bringing the brand into alignment with the Glacier Resource Innovation Group‘s goals and strategy. MINING.COM, with its massive reach and audience, would become the main hub to lead into other Glacier RIG products, such as Edumine and Careermine.
Existing Brand Perception
Overall feedback regarding the previous MINING.COM brand was lukewarm. Brand recognition was moderately high within the industry, but almost non-existent outside of its niche. Readers had strong feelings about the content on the site, but very little to say about the brand itself, likely from a lack of personality or commitment to design aesthetic.
In the time since its launch, social media and user generated content had proliferated, vastly changing the way readers interacted with content online. Direct traffic was replaced with readers primarily coming in from Google News, or via email newsletter digest subscriptions.
As with most rebrands, time was the main constraint. It was being rolled out to coincide with redevelopment of the website, including a complete overhaul of the software architecture and new front end design. With a small team to accomplish these tasks, both the rebrand and UX design were undertaken by one person (me). This rebrand was also under intense scrutiny with many stakeholders. Pressure was high to create something that everyone would get behind.
Research & Discovery
Google Analytics gave us a solid understanding of our audience demographics and behaviour, which actually contradicted the widely held belief that MINING.COM’s audience skewed to older (50 years+) mining professionals. In reality, it was generally made up of readers in their late 20’s to early 40’s, from a variety of backgrounds and industries. These readers were mostly coming from Google News, researching commodities for investment purposes. This accounted for the majority of the audience at the time, with a vocal, but smaller group of core readers subscribed to newsletter digests.
Competitors at the time fell into two categories; industry focused sites, and general news sites.
The industry focused competitors were similarly outdated and lacked personality. The general news sites, although being more modern and reader friendly, lacked insight and industry-specific perspective.
Our goal was to position MINING.COM as a modern, reader friendly news site, with incredible insight and unique perspective on the mining and metals industry. In a fairly conservative space, we wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to be bold and stand out, building on a reputation for occasionally controversial topics and viewpoints from editorial. We supported this bold attitude with trustworthy content from our Data, Education, and Career products. This position would set up MINING.COM as the “homepage” of the mining and metals industry.
Core Values & Messaging
I utilized the Google Ventures 3-Hour Brand Sprint to help the leadership team uncover the core values of the brand. Through that process, we arrived at three core values; Integrity Without Compromise, A Human Centred Perspective, and Innovation Powered By Curiosity.
Based on these values, a few keywords helped me form the basis of our direction; bold, irreverent, and modern.
The MINING.COM logo is bold, readable, and irreverent. The clean angles and simple shapes in the logo make it very easy to read, but the overly bold text, along with the treatment of “Dot Com” lend a sense of wit and humour that matched the tone of the editorial team.
I designed the logo in three forms; Standard, Stacked, and Dot. The standard and stacked logos were used most often when we launched the brand, but the simplicity of the Dot logo has proven most versatile, especially at smaller sizes, so it’s taken over as the primary logo over time.
I initially developed this colour palette for the Mining Intelligence brand. When the decision was made to use MINING.COM as the hub of all the brands, I expanded the set to make it more versatile. I designed the colour space to be bold and vibrant with a touch of warmth, making it easier on the eyes and reducing strain for users.
I chose red as the primary colour for this brand to help it stand out from other brands in the mining and metals industry. At the time, most brands were using either blue or orange as their primary brand colour, with a few of the eco-friendly outliers using green. The Black/White/Red colour scheme created an eye-catching focal point for our in-person event branding that proved quite successful. It also led to our brand launch catchphrase, “What’s Black & White and Read All Over?”
I once again borrowed form the Mining Intelligence brand, using Montserrat as the lead font for MINING.COM. The letterforms comprising the word MINING created a clean and bold visual that looked great at any size.
Montserrat’s versatility and variety would be the key factor in it becoming the main font for all the Glacier RIG brands going forward.
Complementing Montserrat was Zilla Slab, which I used primarily for headings and section logos, to give a bit of a nostalgic print newspaper vibe to the layouts.
Through the Brand Sprint process, we decided that the key elements in the personality would be its rebellious attitude, countered by an authoritative posture, with everything geared towards innovating in the mining and metals space.
This combination would give the brand a way to stand out within the mining and metals industry, but also a more approachable aspect for a general audience.
Collateral & Application
The largest part of the rebrand was the site redesign. I focused on bringing the site into the modern era with a mobile-friendly, responsive layout to meet to our audience’s needs. The new homepage layout focused on getting more stories “above the fold,” and emphasizing the new sections, while de-emphasizing advertisers.
Each section was also given its own homepage catered to content related to Glacier RIG’s family of products.
MINING.COM has been a major presence at conferences at events in the mining and metals industry since its launch in 2008.
I designed the collateral, such as conference banners, to be eye catching and bold to create focal points that would draw an audience in and start a conversation.
Internally, the new brand was met with lots of excitement and praise. Many were happy to see the old brand retired and updated to reflect what the site had become since its initial launch in 2008.
Customer responses were mixed with a vocal minority very upset with the layout changes to the website. This was an expected outcome and died down after about 6 weeks with the remaining feedback overall positive.
Although I can’t share specific metrics for this rebrand, I can report that we saw significant increases in Time on Page and Pages Viewed, which were two of our KPIs going into the project.
Our NPS score moved from the high 60’s into the high 80’s within 6 months of the launch. A lot of this movement was attributed to the new mobile-friendly responsive layout.
The MINING.COM rebrand remains one of the projects that I’m most proud of from my time at Glacier RIG. It was the first of these projects where we had a clear set of goals and expectations going in, and we were able to meet or exceed them as a result. It’s easy enough to redesign a logo and see the visual improvement, but to have actual metrics to measure against that prove the effectiveness of the brand itself is much more satisfying.
As often happens with competing strategic priorities, I had to move on to other projects before I could shepherd this one through all the phases of maturity. The direction of the site has shifted since our relaunch in 2019, but much of the design aesthetic remains, and I’m very proud of the work I did with my team on this project.
MINING.COM was the third major rebrand I led while at Glacier RIG. Learning from the first two, the most important factor for me going into the process was stakeholder buy-in. I was particularly focused on the editorial team as the best ambassadors for the new brand. This would be my most public rebrand project to date, and that meant lots of scrutiny. Keeping stakeholders involved throughout the process, taking feedback, and adjusting accordingly ensured we had a successful internal launch.
Credits & Acknowledgements
A huge thank you to the UXDS team at Glacier RIG in 2018-19 for their help in implementing my design work on such short deadlines and with lots of pressure. In particular, Tom Setterlund (Software Architect) and Micah Ho (Frontend Engineer), who spent many long days putting up with my pixel perfect nitpicks. I also want to acknowledge Rob King, who was President of the Mining Information Group at the time, and trusted me to lead this project.