A Look Into SuperHi’s Brand With André Cândido

Creative design in online education is key to helping empower anyone, anywhere, to uncover their learning potential. Here's how SuperHi did it!

Gabriela Ross

Enrolling in an online course is one thing, but actually completing it can be a whole different kettle of fish! The number of people who quit can be shocking. Not to mention the amount of money they've already spent on it!

SuperHi understood the real challenge for online education platforms; it's not only about the subject but how you present it. As their team says: "Learning anything creative shouldn't feel like you're in a military boot camp." That's how design became a key advantage for SuperHi to increase engagement and reach 90+ countries, but most importantly, help their students bring learnings to real-life scenarios.

As curious as we are at Blush, we wanted to get a little closer to SuperHi and discover how design became essential for their brand. And we did! We had a great chat with André Cândido, Art Director at SuperHi, and he shared some of his now, not-so-secret tricks to create an approachable, design-oriented brand.

Image of the homepage of superhi's website.
SuperHi's homepage.

Creating the right design for online education

Blush: Olá André, we're excited to have this chat with you and discover more details around how design became one of the pillars for SuperHi.

Vamos começar! Let's kick off with our first question: You've seen both sides of the picture; you were once a student at SuperHi, and now their Art Director. Could you tell us more about that experience?

Profile picture of André Cândido.

André: Olá! Yes, that's correct. I learned about SuperHi when I was looking for a WordPress course. I was at a place in my career where I needed some extra fuel to carry on, and to me, learning new things is exactly that fuel. I chose them in a big part because of how design-oriented their courses were.

Long story short, six months after having bought that course, I was part of the design team!

I feel I have grown in my role in tandem with the changes and demands of a fast-paced startup. It's like my job and responsibilities have changed every six months!

Blush: Sounds like you're always discovering new ideas! And talking about ideas, we know you've worked with printed materials, exhibition design, websites, and graphic identities, and in the cultural sector as well! How would you describe the perfect design? What are some of the must-have elements?

André: To me, before it's a good design, it is a great idea. When I need to design something, I spend 80% of the time reading and thinking about it, and then only the last 20% is spent on actually making it.

In terms of must-have elements, I'd say that a good choice of typography carries you a long way. Add an appropriate color scheme, figure out how to balance the composition, and add a pinch of illustration or well-crafted photography to tie it all up. And there you have it!

Figures and geometric shapes from the design process.
André's design process.

Blush: As part of SuperHi, you're helping shape online education, reaching over 10,000 students across 16 timezones and 90+ countries; but André, how do you create a unique and scalable brand that can grow with the company simultaneously?

André: With systems! But with an openness for disruption and reinvention. When I had the opportunity to look at SuperHi's branding deeply, we were at a stage where what started as a coding school was way more than that. The marketing site needed to be updated to reflect a full-fledged creative community better teaching all kinds of skills. The 25+ courses were the central offering of the company, so it was evident that their visual representation would be at the core of this refresh.

The previous course artwork was a mixture of either photography or vector illustration, and the result was confusing and not consistent.

I started by auditing the current brand across multiple touchpoints while researching how other rebranded brands have recently done it.

Image featuring grids and geometric shapes and designs for image composition.
André's design process.

Blush: Would you say it's always necessary to look internally and at what other brands are doing?

André: I think both these aspects are crucial. Looking inwards allows you to spot what is unique about your brand, be it shapes, typefaces, colors, compositions, moods, etc. Searching outwards grants you the opportunity to learn how others have scaled and grown. And in a startup environment, things can change pretty quickly, so it's fundamental to be nimble and adapt quickly.

Blush: André, we're already getting inspired! Can you tell us more about the process of doing a brand system?

André: When doing a system, I feel that it's very easy to get trapped in your own rules, so I'd say you should approach it with an open mind. Treat it more like a game where you are both creating the rules and playing for fun. With SuperHi course images, I was able to craft a system where you can clearly see that the images go together, but they are also unique and standalone pieces.

And I do like to experiment a lot, so I'll break my own rules if a concept justifies it. Most recently, SuperHi launched a course on Crypto and Web 3, and I was compelled to break my own rule of the main shapes never touching one another because I felt that if they connected, there would be a subtle nod to the blockchain. And while no one may notice, these small easter eggs are what keep the job fun for me!

Image featuring grids, geometric shapes and colors representing the online course from superhi.
Course image for Crypto + Web 3 for creatives.

Blush: We've now an essential question; how would you describe the impact of illustrations on brand identity?

André: I think the impact of illustrations is enormous! Another thing I love about illustration is how it can be universal because there are no language barriers. As illustration does not rely on text to convey meaning, it can be more accessible and easy to understand. It can also help establish the tone of voice of the brand.

Lastly, illustration is very flexible. It can enrich the meaning of the text that it's paired with or used as a standalone element. It can be super powerful when used extensively, but it can also shine and draw attention when used in smaller places.

Blush: We agree! Following that question, why incorporate illustrations into SuperHi's design? What's the result you've seen within your target audience?

André: SuperHi's audience is very design-oriented and works mainly in the creative industries as designers, illustrators, photographers, etc., so from that perspective, it just made sense to communicate visually with them.

With SuperHi growing and more courses on the horizon, this new illustration style needed to be done in-house and quickly, without reducing quality.

When we launched the new marketing site, there was lots of love from the community, but it's tough to measure the success of a brand in the short term. Let's see how it performs over time!

image with geometric shapes and grids from superhi's courses
Course image for Foundation HTML, CSS + Javascript.

Blush: So, as the person behind the curtains, what makes SuperHi's design different from other education platforms?

André:  Our brand's visual design, voice, and tone foster an approachable, welcoming, and humble feeling that stands out in a too-frequently cold and intimidating space that is the internet. We made a very conscious move away from the cold and sterile look of other online schools. Although our illustrations are vectors, we injected them with playfulness and personality. We achieve that with richly textural grain and gradients, happy colors, and lively compositions.

I also think that SuperHi shines in comparison when we consider how design is crucial on every touchpoint of the product: the marketing site, the course projects, the blog, the marketing materials on social media, etc.

To me, one of the biggest differentiators is the portfolio-ready course projects; not only are you learning something new, but you also got something cool to show it off at the end!

Gif of the screens on the website from superhi unlimited membership
SuperHi Unlimited page. When SuperHi launched a membership that unlocked all content and extra perks, the brand also evolved in a whole new exciting, and festive way.

Blush: Very interesting! Especially how you're focused on making the brand reflect that consistent humble feeling, making it approachable for your audiences. How would you define SuperHi in three words?

André: Accessible, friendly, and empowering!

Blush: It's amazing how those three words wrap up all these points we've discussed today. What does creativity mean for SuperHi?

André: For SuperHi, creativity means crafting dedicated courses, books, and tools that enable people inside and outside creative industries to learn new skills, meet each other and get better careers.

Blush: Loved that! We believe that everyone can be creative as well.

We'd like to recognize how amazing it is that SuperHi showcases their students' work, even on social media. It must be a great feeling to help and teach so many talented students! André, can you tell us who your biggest influences are?

André: The dreaded impossible question! So many! I'm inspired by how Olafur Eliasson perceives light, how Anna Kulachek reinvents geometric shapes, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón novels, and the sculptural buildings of Bjarke Ingels, by the mesmerizing illustrations of Adamastor; and the eye of Sebastião Salgado. I could go on and on!

Blush: Last one! What are your go-to resources to stay updated and get design inspiration?

André: I take a lot of inspiration (not just design-wise) from independent magazines. Because they usually are such a niche, they explore their respective topics to exhaustion. Design-wise, these magazines are innovative, very exploratory, and, sometimes, highly conceptual. A joy to read and to see!

Some favorites: Macguffin, Happy Reader, Migrant Journal, Mold, Apartamento, and Fantastic Man. Regarding online resources for visual inspiration, I'd go with the usual suspects: Siteinspire, Hoverstat.es, Land-book, Brand New, and ThingTesting.

Also, if you're part of the SuperHi community, be sure to check out #chat-design on our slack group. That's where all the hot new stuff is shared!

Blush: Muito obrigada! Thanks so much André!

Creatives learning together

Creativity is a critical component in today's most engaging and practical designs. SuperHi has become a clear example of an online education platform that's focused on creativity. They've built a strong brand that creates a personal and genuine learning experience for their worldwide community.

Leave us a comment at @blushdesignapp and tell us if you've already learned some new skills with SuperHi, or are you thinking about enrolling in a new course?

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