When entering a space like internet security, you'd think that the best bet would be to rely on a stoic and staid brand. That is, of course, unless everyone else in your market is boring, difficult to work with, and doesn't provide any emotional value to the customer.
Dashlane is a password manager (I use them personally so I don't spend hours trying to get all of my passwords in a row). I've gotta say, having used their top competitor, LastPass, it's evident what makes Dashlane's positioning so potent: they made password protection snazzy and cool.
LastPass, the only major competitor to Dashlane, goes for $3 per month for the same features as Dashlane's $4 per month premium personal plan. Something they seem to be totally ok with given that they are pushing for a higher-end experience.
Smart move, here's why:
They win on a more refined experience instead of driving down prices within their market. Think about it, both of these softwares do the same thing, yet Dashlane earns an extra dollar over LastPass users. Sure, they might have less customers, but they earn 33% more money per user. In turn, LastPass' 16M users at $3 per month earn $48M compared to Dashlane's 10M users that earn them $40M in monthly revenue.
If Dashlane had gone the route of charging a dollar less their revenue would be cut in half. But by positioning the brand to be a premium alternative and an experience worth paying extra money for, they can compete. Clearly, there is some serious validity to playing up in a "downgraded" market.
With the numbers established, let's take a look at some brass tacks: who is this brand for and why they care.
This is all speculation, but given that I'd seen ads for Dashlane on several design-related YouTube channels, I'm guessing Dashlane's ideal user is someone in the tech scene with money to spare and willing to pay for an elevated experience. Why this matters to this user is the fact that they don't have time to fiddle in run-of-the-mill tech like LastPass and instead yearn for something fresh and easy to use. They are neophiles with a taste for well-designed software. Paying the extra dollar is worth the boost in esteem and status. Dashlane built their brand around this.
Compared to the consumer LastPass attracts (the person looking for a conservative, affordable option), this tech-savvy user base allowed Dashlane level up the market.
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.
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.