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A Look Inside the New Canal Brand

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Ela Lasić
January 20, 2023
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If you’ve been to Canal’s website today, you’ve probably noticed an entirely new site experience, and underlying that, a fresh brand identity. 

Since early last year, our team has been working on evolving our visual language to reflect the transformative nature of our first year in operation. 

And today we’re incredibly excited to share with you the results of our brand transformation, which includes a new logo, design system, brand story, and website. This new identity tells a cohesive, powerful narrative of how Canal is changing ecommerce by building the inventory layer of online shopping, amplifying our original mission of making it easy for anyone to sell anywhere. In this post, we detail how our new identity will propel Canal’s brands into the future by making it easy for anyone to channel their brand.

Channeling your brand with Canal

When you browse through Canal’s Discover catalog, you’re greeted by a vibrant array of products: from consciously-minded brands like Hello Bello to AAPI-founded brands like Fly By Jing and creative, progressive brands like Vacation, just to name a few. The caliber of Canal's network is strengthened both by this diversity and the fact that all brands are hand-selected according to our curation values: compelling brand storytelling, authentic audiences, thoughtfully-designed products, and superior customer experience.

A peek into Canal's Discover experience

Since we launched in March 2022, our brands have come to trust Canal’s technology and service for these exact reasons. So why change something that isn’t broken?

Simply put, we’ve evolved to meet our customers’ needs. While Canal initially launched as a cross-selling Shopify app for brands to supercharge ecommerce growth, we’ve expanded to bring us closer to our mission:

We onboarded hundreds of new brands to our network and hired a Curation strategy team.  We launched merchandising tools like a bundle app, post-purchase checkout app, and text-to-order. We now empower creators. We offer a white-label API, so that our network was never limited by a brand’s tech stack. We transcended beyond marketplaces – helping brands sell more through pop-up shops, drops, and social content. All this to say, we found ourselves outgrowing our first brand identity.

Our previous website homepage

So what is Canal? 

Canal is a conduit for brand partnerships. We are a premium brand channel, on a mission to guide and empower top ecommerce brands to activate cross-selling partnerships and capitalize on third party merchandising opportunities.

"We are a premium brand channel, on a mission to guide and empower top ecommerce brands to activate cross-selling partnerships and capitalize on third party merchandising opportunities"

And we’re bringing that to life by creating a virtual inventory layer of online shopping. Through our curated network of brands, team of dedicated ecommerce strategists, and suite of all-in-one merchandising tools, brands can lower CAC, increase customer loyalty, and intelligently expand their product offerings on their own terms. Whether a brand joins the network to sell its products or joins to power new shopping experiences for its customers, channeling its brand into a new revenue stream. 

At Canal, we need a brand identity to convey this robust vision – one that’s sharp in perspective, rooted in culture, and progressive – and carries the Canal experience into our next chapter.

Combining quality curation with strategic technology

We began our research in the spring of 2022 by interviewing team members, customers, and investors, who shaped a full perspective of Canal. We learned that the Canal identity was that of a patchwork quilt, a company with multiple shimmering visions of what the future could look like. 

On one hand, we had the technologists, who saw a disruptive future when Canal’s platform could empower anyone – and we mean anyone – to easily stand up a storefront and sell products they love on the internet. (Our favorite analogy is your dog walker selling their tried and true staples.) On the other hand, we spoke with brand enthusiasts, those who believed deeply in the value of a brand and saw an editorial future where Canal built the most selective catalog of products on the internet.

At the core of these two perspectives, we found a commonality: the world is increasingly noisy. And as consumers of this busy world, we’re constantly being sold to. New ads, new products, new this, new that. But who do you trust? At Canal, we believe deeply in the power of brand influence. We want to empower those who’ve carefully crafted a point of view and nurtured trusted relationships to be able to thoughtfully recommend new products. We aim to do so by adding more guidance, selectivity, and credibility to consumer purchases.

This belief and our beautiful blend of expertise led us to sharpen our brand differentiator: Canal is where quality curation meets strategic technology. That duality is the essence of the creative and technical forces that have powered experiences like Deuxmoi’s holiday edit, the first farmer’s market in the metaverse, and YUMI’s 24/7 online mart for families. And this balance is what makes us the premium channel for brand partnerships and cross-selling. 

"This belief and our beautiful blend of expertise led us to sharpen our brand differentiator: Canal is where quality curation meets strategic technology"

It also guided us in how we defined the values we want to be known for:

Our new brand values

The new Canal

In addition to our brand values, this research also led us to reenvision our entire brand identity:

  • Our new logo features custom letterforms meant to evoke a feeling of sophisticated luxury with a nod to history. The pathway bisecting the logo represents a channel of  partnership between the brands and products.
  • Our new primary colors are values of desaturated grey, which allows the spectrum of colors belonging to our brand partners to take center stage. Our secondary teal pays homage to our past branding, enhanced by a complimentary gold. Our tertiary colors were inspired by colors found in the shopping bazaars of the ancient world, the origin of many retailers coming together to sell at scale.
  • A collection of heavily abstracted icon graphics inspired by minimalism and modern art, enhanced by the beauty of motion.
  • Our new type is a modern and meticulously-designed sans serif typeface that provides superior readability on-screen and in print. Closely related to Helvetica, Söhne provides provokes both familiarity and modernity.

Along with a robust and thoughtfully designed brand system, we also reimagined our website experience through ShopCanal.com. Our new site is designed to inspire and dedicates more space to spotlighting some of the most successful brand activations.

Most importantly, the new website is just the beginning. It’s been reimagined to be a strong foundation for adding future guides and thought leadership, making it easy for any brand or person to begin selling products they love.

Building the inventory layer for online shopping

In addition to a new website and visual identity, we’re excited to announce that our Discover catalog of products is now available to all brands in our network. 

Previously, our network consisted of storefronts (brands who used Canal to merchandise their sites, campaigns, or product drops) and supplier brands (brands who opted into having their products sold via Canal). Both categories of brands joined Canal by applying and are hand-selected for the network. 

Now, that second category of brands – our suppliers, trusted brands with tremendous growth potential – can use Canal to power selling third-party brand products on their site.

To paint a picture of what this means for a brand: Great Jones came into Canal’s network having been a supplier product on another brand’s campaign. After it became a storefront seller on Canal, Great Jones launched its ingredients pantry and drove up AOV by 66% on orders with these top pantry products.

Great Jones' ingredient collection, powered by Canal

Now, any brand on Canal can do as Great Jones did and can power its own inventory-free revenue stream with the inventory layer for online shopping. With Canal, any brands in our network can now create a full category experience, channeling their brand influence to change the conversation on what customers come to them for.

"Now, any brand on Canal can do as Great Jones did and can power its own inventory-free revenue stream with the inventory layer for online shopping."

New year, new brand, renewed optimism

As we look to 2023, we can’t help but be excited for the future. Beyond what we have planned for Canal, we’re energized by the fresh slate ahead for our brands to make a splash and capitalize on the moments ahead. 

With Canal as the conduit for brand partnerships, brands can respond to planned retail and seasonal moments throughout the year to drive incremental revenue and improve ecommerce performance. They can also rely on Canal’s virtual inventory to respond to moments that we can’t yet predict – the ones that ebb and flow with the culture of consumer commerce. 

But this is just the beginning. Thank you to all who contributed to bringing the new Canal brand to life: our teammates who gave endless ideas and feedback; our customers and investors for their continued partnership; our senior brand designer, Yanni Davros, who designed our new brand identity and our product designer Katherine Davis, who created our new website; and our friends at Fazer and our branding consultant Kaitlin Sullivan for their expertise in brand strategy. We’re incredibly proud of the work done to date, and can’t wait to continue to tell the story of how Canal helps anyone channel their brand for growth.

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Ela Lasić
Marketing Lead
,
Canal
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