"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."
Go change the world you rebel.
It takes balls to do something unexpected and different. In the case of choosing brand colors for your software, this is most evident and it matters greatly. Color is one of the core ways your brand coheres its marketing efforts, expresses itself, and distinguishes your brand from competitors.
Uber demonstrated this well during their rebrand in 2018. The black and white base of their brand colors allowed them to expand their marketing efforts globally and uniformly while shifting the focus to rich photography of their users. Difficult to do if you're playing with a myriad of colors.
Compared to their largest competitor, Lyft, who bolsters a hot pink badge of courage, the Uber color palette connotes feelings of maturity, elitism, and professionalism. A smart move in trying to distance themselves from the hyper-friendly and childish Lyft.
What's cool is that the flip-side of this is also true and valid for Lyft's color choices. It takes just as much fortitude to come up with the hot pinks, poppin' purples, and other vibrant hues that construct their energetic and playful appearance. There is no way you'd mistake ads from either brand for each other, in large part due to color.
The point? Have the courage to use color boldly and to stake your claim emotionally. Use it often, with confidence, and throughout your product as well as the pieces that sell it.
Crafting a brand identity is fun and it can skyrocket a startup's legitimacy. But it's hard. Especially if you're jumping into it for the first time without a whole lot of experience or direction. So here are some steps that I'll be expanding on later this week. This initial run is an effort to get these thoughts out of my head and on to something tangible.
1. Establish and define the brand
The brand is the gut feeling someone has about an entity. Without defining what this feeling is, it's impossible to craft visuals that are aligned with it. The route to this definition comes from asking a lot of questions, empathizing with who would love this company the most, and precisely detailing the personality of the company. Think of it as creating a movie character. You want to know them intimately.
2. Seek, steal, and repurpose
Visual identities are often relegated to what I call the "design aesthetic." The design aesthetic doesn't have a unique personality to it but has good command over whitespace and simple layouts. While there isn't anything wrong with utilizing those design principles, establishing an emotional connection is contingent upon a humanistic element. Something unique, tasteful, and appropriate. The design aesthetic is a fail-safe for those who do not have a deeper story or who are afraid to be something different. As such, they try to create something on their own and fall into the design aesthetic trap.
What's the antidote? Find inspiration (from a book, a movie, a place, another brand), steal as much as you can, and repurpose the elements for your brand. Something inspiring and impactful already out there, magic happens when you place it in a new context.
3. Establish visual elements
There are foundational elements in every identity build. Namely, color, typography, layout, logo, and subsequent elements like illustration, pattern, photography, iconography, and motion. Once a visual theme has been set, the task is now to apply that theme to these elements so there is a cohesive look to everything. It's been phrased before that any piece of collateral should be recognizable without the brand's logo on it. This is done by aligning and consistently using branded visuals.
4. Flex and be ready to adapt
Change is inevitable. Prepare yourself to move and adapt your visual identity as time progresses. New mediums will arise, styles will change, your company will change, and eventually, your visuals will need to as well. Be prepared to flex, experiment, and change.