Summation360

Creating a unified brand and user experience to support a vision for a new product.

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We brought together brand development and user experience to support the vision for a customer-friendly electronic billing and payment solution.

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If you’ve had any experience with branding, you know that a brand is much more than a logo. But it’s also more than key messages, brand promise, and visual identity. If you want to get serious about branding, you have to consider your actual product or service. Are your customers’ experiences building and reinforcing your brand? They should be.

Too often there’s a disconnect at the intersection between brand and user experience. The feeling your customers get when they think of you and interact with you and how they experience your product or service is a critical part of your brand, so building your brand must also be about building an experience.

NewCity has worked with organizations on their outward-facing brand and digital strategy as well as the actual experience of their product or service. One example is our work with Tele-Works, Inc., now part of Paymentus, where the NewCity team worked to unify a vision for a new brand and the user experience to support the brand promise.

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A Singular Plan

Founded in 1986, Tele-Works focused on telephony solutions for municipalities and utilities — systems that allow interaction with a computer using voice or telephone keypad — often related to billing and payment. Their original platform was complex, requiring integration with myriad third-party solutions, and each new client required extensive integration and customization.

John Schott was hired as CEO of Tele-Works in 2006 to jumpstart the company’s growth.

At the time, Tele-Works did not have a payment solution built into their platform. After getting to know both the platform and the market, John started to imagine how Tele-Works could form alliances for payment processing and bill printing in order to provide customers with a single, simple solution offering a full spectrum of services.

After investigating partnerships, John realized it was feasible to build the solution in-house with help from experts. This “aha” moment in August of 2011 launched Tele-Works on a path to a simpler, turnkey product that included everything a utility needed to bill for service and collect payments.

“Once the decision was made it was full bore,” John said. “The faster we could get this service to market and abandon everything else, the better. This was our home run idea.”

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A Simple Vision

After settling on the name “Summation360” for the new unified platform, Tele-Works asked NewCity to create the brand and website.

Prospective customers were familiar with the various elements they needed for billing operations, but they were used to working with multiple vendors to get them. As that complexity fell away with Summation360, we found it easy to tell a powerful story. The underlying vision was to take an unnecessarily complicated system with multiple vendors and consolidate it down to one simple solution that was easy for the end consumer to use.

Based on that concept, NewCity worked with members of Tele-Works’ team to develop the tagline “Nothing’s simpler than one.” And, following that, a logo and supporting campaigns and trade show materials.

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Building the User Experience

While we worked on the marketing aspects of the new brand, Tele-Works’ engineers began retooling the software itself.

During an early demonstration of the bill payment system we pointed out opportunities to make the screens easier to use. To support the “simplification” the new product embodied, the user experience had to match. The timing was right, so Tele-Works invited us to help with the user experience of the platform.

One of the software engineers who worked with Melissa Beaver on Summation360 said, “The product is much more user-friendly than our previous development efforts, which were all driven by in-house programmers with no real UX experience or expertise.”

The improved user interface helped Tele-Works begin selling the platform long before the software was finished. According to John, “We couldn’t go to a customer and talk about our new platform with old, shoddy interfaces. So we put the brand out there along with NewCity’s mockups right from the start.”

The website went live in November 2011, and Tele-Works began promoting the Summation360 platform while the software was still in development. A NewCity user experience person served as part of Tele-Works’ development team for the next few months.

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Wireframes provided a roadmap for the software engineers.