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decision makers

Calvin, Logojoy’s mascot, in the company’s offices.

The series: We look at decision makers among Canada’s mid-sized companies who took successful action in a competitive global digital economy.

Designing a logo can involve some tough decisions about how you want your company to look, but Dawson Whitfield and Rares Crisan figured there must be ways to streamline the process.

They made a few decisions of their own when they co-founded Logojoy, a Toronto-based online design firm. The first was to deploy technology that would make it easy for ordinary people to tap into professional expertise.

"We needed to think about how all the pieces fit together," says Mr. Whitfield, 24, Logojoy's CEO. The company, started in November of 2016, said it has already served more than 250,000 customers and in its first eight months generated more than $1-million in revenues.

"We think we can increase revenues by 20 times over the next two or three years," Mr. Whitfield says.

Logojoy's tech decisions coincide with the disruption now under way in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This revolution, in which digital technology is changing the way people live and work, has evolved much faster than three earlier revolutions, which were fuelled by steam and hydraulic power, electricity and then mass communications.

"The logo market is a huge market. About $56-billion is spent on graphic designers per year around the world," Mr. Whitfield adds. Designing can be labour intensive; Logojoy chose to stand out by putting as much of its design process online as possible.

Mr. Whitfield and Logojoy's head of technology Mr. Crisan designed its website using an approach called "microservices architecture," or simply, microservices. This is an increasingly popular method for developing software; rather than building a huge, complicated site that does everything at once, it puts together small, independently deployable, modular tasks that can communicate with each other and be combined toward a bigger goal.

In the case of Logojoy, that means prospective customers start on its website by signing in, providing the name of their company and then looking at that name displayed in generic displays of typography and colours.

Users who log in also immediately receive a welcoming e-mail from Mr. Whitfield offering a video tutorial that explains how to change the font and colour.

The simplified technology lets prospective clients mull over designs before making any commitments.

"Competitors have great templates and can come up with great logos, but they still require the customer to be a designer. We're different because we take on the onus of creating the designs and giving them suggestions up front," Mr. Whitfield says.

"Investing in technology is paramount when you're a company that's trying to use artificial intelligence in design," Mr. Crisan says.

"We put a lot of time into researching the technology," he adds.

"After all, when you're a customer sitting with a human designer, you're not providing your own designs, you're explaining your ideas and describing, and the designer tries to show your vision," he says.

Companies like Logojoy fall into a category that researchers focusing on digital transformation consider to be leaders – firms that move more quickly than others to try out and adopt new digital technologies.

"The leaders are delivering new customer experiences by writing software to make their products smart or take their services online," says a recent global survey of about 4,000 firms in 16 countries by British research company Vanson Bourne.

The study found, though, that this group of leading companies represents just 5 per cent of the business population worldwide, and that among 16 countries surveyed, Canada is a "digital laggard" when it comes to embracing new technology.

Another study by British consulting firm Oxford Leadership looked at work practices at several of the world's largest corporations between 2011 and 2016. It found that the most nimble firms – and most likely to succeed in these times of rapid change – are "those which encourage organizational adaptability, speed and agility."

The winners are most likely to be run by "leaders who have most effectively adapted their organizations to embrace disruptive technologies and new business models, have challenged the organizational status quo, defined a clear and common purpose and focused on creating the conditions for speed, agility and flexibility."

That appears to be consistent with the moves that Logojoy's co-founders made in designing their business from the bottom up, focusing first on how the technology would serve potential customers.

Mr. Whitfield says that he and Mr. Crisan had in mind the idea of clients thinking about their logos with a designer looking over their shoulders – only in this case, the designer is digital, rather than a person breathing down their necks.

Logojoy is also designed to be interactive – you keep scrolling through logos, choosing ones you like, and then, when you are ready, you can buy your top choice for a fraction of what it might cost to hire a live designer.

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