This is part of a 5-piece case study on Dashlane. Be sure to check out the previous pieces for more insight.
In my last article about Dashlane, I foreshadowed what could be done better about the brand experience. Keep in mind, I love this product and I use it daily. It has greatly impacted my life and I hope other people will use it so they can live a simpler, safer life online. These suggestions serve as takeaways for other software companies working through building a brand and (if anyone from Dashlane ever reads this, it'll hopefully inspire them too).
There is only one critique that seems to be present in Dashlane's branding efforts: their advertising, specifically the integration of humor.
Humor is awesome and every brand can flex different emotions when trying to resonate with an audience. The key is to make sure it all points to the same emotion at the core. For Dashlane, those core emotions appear to be premium experience, sophistication, expensive, and bordering on elite.
Check out this ad they released for the Super Bowl in 2020:
The ad is evocative, however the humor conveyed seems a bit more childish and playful than Dashlane's other experiences. Dashlane's website is a straightforward, easy to understand information piece that demonstrates the reasons why this brand charges a premium price.
It's 100% possible to be humorous and expensive, but it's a bit more complex that zealous acting and funky plot scenarios.
What's the solution? I hate to bring them up as an example, because they're used so frequently, but Apple's Mac vs PC campaign is a flawless example of how to execute a humorous, yet premium ad. The refined structure of the ads gave them an elevated feel and the actors appear authentic. Not a whole lot of showmanship, but still entertaining.
If this is something your brand struggles with try this example: find a TV character, movie star, or otherwise well-known figure and mirror the emotion they bring to the table. Guaranteed they have specific phraseology, joke patterns, etc, that you can emulate.
Remember, as long as the marketing efforts point to the same place, you are on the right track to building a brand. Don't deviate from your compass.
After 23 trials and test results, the Sloth Sanctuary concluded that sloths take an average of 16 days to fully digest food and rid itself of food waste. 16 full days is the same as 384 hours, 9.6 work weeks, or two working months to produce shit.
I'm currently reading The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. He talks about one of his first ventures and that they had spent six months working on a product that no one liked. No one knew how to use it, what good it did, or why they should buy it. Without mincing words: it was shit. It earned no money and it didn't help anyone.
What's the point?
It doesn't matter how long something took to make and how much effort you've put into it, if it's not useful to anyone, it's shit.
The remedy? Make something useful for someone and find out early whether or not it has value.
Design is a gargantuan undertaking, namely because there is so much stuff to consider. From logos, icons, illustrations, layouts, man, the list is endless. But, there are two things that set the trajectory for good design and good branding within a startup: color and typography.
Things go haywire with color really fast. Why? Because most startups want to impress people and peacock their way to good branding. The more flash, the better right? Wrong. Honestly, when you are starting out, it is imperative to rely on one core color (unless you design out a full color palette). Why one color? Because it helps you focus and reign in all of your energy on keeping your branding consistent. One color, with neutrals (black, greys, and white). That will make your startup appear far more mature than a one boasting yellows, blues, and pinks like a clown at a sideshow.
Type is hard, even for designers who have been trained in choosing tyoefaces and using them properly. In the prospect of boosting your startup through design, please heed this suggestion: pick one, good, timeless typeface. Why? Because typography connotes so much emotion and is often chosen based on what looks "cool." "Cool," usually translates to distressed, obnoxious, or flippant. None of which you want to be associated with your startup.
I get it, you want to be extravagant and show that your company is creative (and it is, don't you forget it). But is selecting an overtly illustrative or stylized typeface going to be the best way you communicate that? It could be, after you get a grip on what you're doing from a design perspective. But that takes time and expertise. So, for the time being until you can fully invest in picking typefaces that have personality and are selected with on-brand intentions, pick something neutral and timeless. I'd recommend pulling one from this font bundle on Design Cuts.
Implementing these suggestions into your startup is not going to solve everything, but it will at least help you appear more trustworthy until you can really build out and refine your branding.