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5 min read

Meet Deel: Jola Aerts, Creative Director

Deel Dialogue

Author

Shannon Hodgen

Published

February 26, 2024

Last Update

July 09, 2024

In the Meet Deel series, we chat with team members across the organization to get their unique insights into remote work, life at Deel, and more.

Since 2019, Deel has gone from offering onboarding and payroll services for small and mid-sized businesses to supporting larger companies with payroll operations and entities worldwide. 

As we’ve matured, so has our brand—with the help of team members like Creative Director Jola Aerts. Jola has been leading the in-house creative team in shaping the next era of Deel's brand identity.

“The new look and feel is an evolution of where we’ve been, rather than a whole different brand,” explains Jola. “This matches our evolution as a company—Deel is still the same at its core, with a consistent emphasis on product excellence, quality of execution, and customer care. We’re just growing up.”

Here’s what Jola shared about her career journey, the importance of Genuine Care, and Deel’s new look.

What brought you to Deel?

Jola: After having studied industrial design and graphic design, I started my career in branding and publication design (Pentagram and Interview Magazine), followed by a move into the advertising world (Ogilvy), and in-house (Amazon). 

Two years ago, I was contacted by a person from Y Combinator who said that “a great startup that's disrupting the work industry” was interested in me as the candidate for the creative director role. And that's how I started my chapter with Deel.

Can you describe what you do as a Creative Director at Deel?

Jola: I lead the creative team of designers and copywriters in building the brand's creative and advertising assets, and ensure the creative vision is cohesive throughout all our touch points. I create the processes for the team, communicate with other internal teams and external vendors, and generally make sure that the workflow is streamlined and the creatives can focus on doing their best work. 

What makes working at Deel special?

Jola: To me, it's the fantastic, smart people from all over the world that I get to interact with and learn from every day. 

I had worked on globally-reaching campaigns in my previous jobs here in NYC. The difference now is that I get to work on such campaigns with people from all around the world and hear their perspectives (instead of only reading about them in strategy docs).

I also enjoy having the extra time I used to spend commuting. I get to cook more! And I’m able to travel more and work remotely from any location. I was working at Amazon when COVID-19 first hit, so the transition to online communication and video calls wasn't as difficult as I had expected. Mostly it was my wardrobe that shifted, and my feet thanked me too, for not having to wear high heels as much anymore.

Which Deel values help you succeed in your role?

Jola: Genuine Care. To me, it’s the one value that unlocks a lot of the others. 

I can't imagine someone working with Deel Speed if they don't really care. You have to care to have that internal motivation, to move fast, to deliver more than expected, and to collaborate with others.

I believe in Deel's mission of enabling talented people everywhere to work at any company on Earth, and I care about my team's output. I care about the people, and I know that creative teams only thrive when there's a sense of collaboration and community.

What advice do you have for those interested in pursuing a creative career in tech?

Jola: Tech companies and startups are pretty intense. That’s why—going back to Genuine Care—it’s important to look for a workplace where you actually believe in what the company is doing. Just wanting to work in a startup isn't enough. You have to have genuine interest and believe in the product to do well and thrive.

Let’s talk about Deel’s rebrand. How did it come about?

Jola: Deel has grown a lot over a few short years, and our HR services have, too. The products were rounded out to be much more comprehensive and enterprise-ready: they include global payroll, HRIS, immigration, and PEO support. 

We’re seeing meaningful momentum across all sizes and industries of businesses, so we want our brand identity to reflect this maturity.

To come up with the optimal brand identity, the creative team embarked on a six-month collaborative research and design process. The goal was to develop a global identity that would resonate with enterprise customers, while building trust and loyalty with all sizes and types of companies. We wanted to stay true to the playful nature of our brand but also appeal to a more established audience.

Through a research plan that engaged Deel leadership and customers, the team set out to build a design system that is aspirational yet approachable, aligned with company values, and inclusive of the wider world.

What inspired the new look and feel?

Jola: Deel is a global company at its core, serving 25,000+ customers in over 120 countries. The new brand identity needed to be contemporary and provide flexibility for incorporating visual trends, yet also be timeless and geography-neutral. 

People will notice the presence of "chunky" shapes in the new illustration style, the abstract background shapes, the new typeface (Bagoss), and the tweaked company logo. 

Those shapes were inspired by the styles of expression omnipresent throughout art and communications history all around the world—from Lascaux cave paintings and cuneiform (one of the oldest forms of writing in history) to more contemporary abstract artists like Matisse and Lygia Clark.

The new color palette enhances the brand personality—it is warm and optimistic, with a positive outlook. The blue, purple, and yellow provide a range suitable for formal, neutral, and informal use cases. They fit with how the lighting changes throughout the day, signaling the movement of time, and a work cycle—from the bright morning yellow, through the mid-day blue sky, to the purple afterglow.

Deel’s rebrand will show up across our website, social media accounts, advertising, and sales materials. We'll also be rolling out more design and functionality changes to our customer and worker interfaces.

Who was involved in the rebrand?

Jola: This monumental project would not have been possible without the designers, illustrators, copywriters, and our project manager, who poured their hearts and hard work into it: Jean-Baptiste Di Marco, Tory Van Wey, James Porter, Spencer Gutierrez, Tyler Bradley, Emi Norgaard, Manu Arborelo, Yuwei “Momo” Liu, Cherihan Hassun, Luis Vallejo, Ope Aluko, Ray Hobbs, Kirkland Luther, Bianca Wagner, and Adam Lisbeth.

I'd also like to express my gratitude to Deel leadership and our partnering teams, who graciously shared their insights, advice, and time throughout the process. Alex Bouaziz, Meltem Kuran, Elisabeth Diana, Grace Stuart, Pearce Dolan, Anja Simic, Rachel Shulman, Muhammed Salim, Jonathan Willington, Alex Chan-Perryman, Iougo Alves, Evgeny Pavlov, Weijie Fu, Paolo Cargnin, Alexis Gruet, Raman Deol, Erin Hannon, David Bullock, Aviv Haim, Carly Osterman, Mel Brittner, Juliana Sheldon, Kate Moerel, and more.

The work is never done, and the new identity and the guidelines are just the beginning. 

Interested in joining Deel? Great news—we’re hiring! See open positions here.

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