In line with the position of being the premium brand for internet security, Dashlane crafted elegant messaging that vaults their product beyond being a password manager.
How? They made it about the emotional value derived from using their product. In short, they make it about the feeling of security and being cool rather than making their password creator the hero. This is evidenced in the way they discuss the benefit of their product from their home page:
Dashlane does more than create, save, and autofill your passwords. See how Dashlane can give you a safer, simpler life online.
Dashlane is a tool, that the real heroes (their users) can use to fight against security threats on line. More importantly, they can do so without have to get vicious. Adopting messaging like this is great for many reasons and there is one in particular that is fascinating:
Dashlane's messaging allows them to exceed password management.
In conjunction with a name like Dashlane, they have shown that their brand is capable of handling new product dedicated to the safety of others on the internet. There's an important part in there that I don't want to skip over because it matters: the name.
Imagine these examples from companies within this market with a new offering:
LastPass launches a new VPN service to guard your internet usage from unwanted eyes.
Dashlane launches new VPN service to guard your internet usage from unwanted eyes.
LastPass has made it difficult for themselves to be recognized as anything other than a password manager because every time you say their name you are yanked into remembering that they are a password manager.
Conversely, Dashlane is tied to an emotional value. So long as the offering doesn't conflict with that emotional value, Dashlane's customers will eat it up. Yet another stepping stone to a safer, simpler life online.
The point? The messages in the things you promise, the way you talk about your products and services, even the name you give users to identify you are rooted in an emotion, not the product. The product is a vehicle by which that emotion is experienced. Focus your messaging on reinforcing the emotion. Build the brand on something greater so that you can continue to innovate and be trusted with new products.
You found an identity to steal. A theme that you can dive deep into and extract a visual story from. Now, your goal is to use these elements coherently. So much so, that even if your company's logo is absent from a piece of collateral, an ad, or website, it should still be recognized as something from you. Note, every design deliverable is different and the medium you are building within can have a major impact on how you will apply the visual identity. That being said, these are the top things to be aware of for cohesion:
I cannot overstate the value of a unified color palette, especially if you've selected on unique to your market. Keeping your colors intact and uniform makes your company appear more organized and it helps establish a subconscious connection between you and the selected color. When cigarette advertising became prohibited, Marlboro paid bars to paint entire walls of their spaces Marlboro red. Their sales increased as a result. That's just from establishing a brand color. Or think about Tiffany Blue and the associations of prestige that come along with it. Color has major impact.
Of all the visual elements startups get wrong, this is most common. Type is both science and art, hell, some people dedicate their entire lives to the study and creation of beautiful letterforms. Point being, it ain't easy. But there are some overarching principles one should consider. Firstly, limit yourself. Pick two typefaces max and stick to them. Secondly, choose typefaces that are legible and timeless. No curly q's or any of that Microsoft WordArt shit that sends you back to 2nd grade. If you follow those two steps, your visual prowess will be 50% ahead of anyone not doing so.
Layout is the arrangement of elements on a design deliverable. Here is what you need to decide: does your brand reflect order and cleanliness or chaos and creativity? Both are good, but you need to pick one side. By establishing a game plan for how you will layout design elements, you can create templates for websites, presentations, ads, etc and they will all bear the same amount of order. If you bounce back and forth between hyper-create and hyper-structured you lose cohesion.
Subsequent Design Elements
This is where your stolen identity comes into play the most. Brand identities need spice, transcendent elements that make them unique. Let's say you decided to steal your visual identity from a Brooklyn pizza parlor. You know, a real-deal shop with red and white table cloths, twine-wrapped wine bottles, boisterous families talking across the table, Italian flags everywhere, and old-time, sepia-toned photos of the city. That is a treasure trove. You've got patterns (tablecloth), illustrations (of cool stuff like twine-wrapped wine bottles), voice and tone (boisterous families), photo styling (sepia-tone photos) all from one unified source. The same would apply to motion graphics (maybe a pizza being tossed in the air), icons, or any other element.
If you refuse to use the clichè icons, illustrations, and photos present within your industry and replace them with something out of context, you can make something impactful. You can tell a better story. It's all in your stolen identity. Unlock that treasure trove and create something awesome!
Most of the startup world is focused on getting bigger, expanding, scaling, and a long list of adjectives all pointing to gaining more.
Unfortunately, this mentality leaks into startup branding efforts as well.
Have more colors, have a bigger logo, more subbrands, more typefaces, more messages. More, more, more, more, more.
The issue with this mindset is that it is the complete opposite of scalable because you are reinventing the wheel every time you embark on a new branding effort.
Ask yourself, what is in the way of us getting our point across and connecting with our tribe? Then get rid of it and cut straight to their hearts.