This is part of a 5-piece case study on Dashlane. Be sure to check out the previous pieces and stay tuned for what's next.
In full transparency, I'm a huge fan of this rebrand, there will be some bias. No shame.
Back to business. Dashlane's previous brand identity was centered on a shield emblem featuring an impala leaping across. Apart from this mark, there wasn't a cohesive structure to their design language that made them recognizable.
According to their CMO, the old branding didn't reflect where they wanted to go as a company or the attitude they wanted to convey to their users. Dashlane was seeking something elevated, elegant, and premium. Without appearing hoity-toity.
They hired a global design agency, Pentagram, to lead a rebrand. The results didn't disappoint. Here are a couple photos from Pentagram's case study.
The new branding focuses on a core concept of concealing and revealing. This is done by rooting it in a symbol (the slanted rectangle) that makes up the Dashlane "D."
When paired with an upgraded color palette, streamlined typography, classed-up icons, and a creative flex between all of them, their position as a premium internet security company is obvious. Yes, it looks clean and modern, but more importantly this brand helps distinguish Dashlane's position over competitors like LastPass.
This is speculation, but it seems like this new identity system helped streamline Dashlane's marketing as well. They use a limited color palette, two typefaces, and have a distinct grid system for their iconography. This allows for consistency between billboards, digital and print advertisements, ephemera, Dashlane's website, and even the product itself. Simplicity and safe-gaurds for their design team allow them to move faster and with grater peace of mind.
Coincidentally, that lines up with their mission of creating a safer and simpler life online for their users.
Design a visual identity that can scale across every touchpoint a user will come into contact with. Your product, your site, ads, all of it.
Focus on conveying an emotion through color, shape, and type.
Be different from your competition. No one is going to mistake Dashlane green for LastPass red.
A common worry of most startups is that they've let too much time go without focusing on their brand that it would be too late to make positive change.
This is the same feeling I had this morning. My back was super stiff so I slept in. Waking up to think, "damn, my daily routine might as well be ruined. I shouldn't exercise, I shouldn't write the MF Punch, I shouldn't pray, I shouldn't journal."
And then I thought, "so because I didn't get to these important habits of mine at the start of my day, that means they shouldn't manifest at all?"
What's the point?
Don't let your brand be clock blocked. If you expect your startup to be around at the end of the day, end of the week, end of year, whatever, you can make a change for the better right now.
Logos are tricky and inherently subjective. Not only that, but with a slew of vendors like Fiverr, Upwork, 99Designs, and friends/family who do design work as a side hustle, it's hard to figure out navigating a new identity for your startup. So, here are the top five things all startups should consider when deciding whether or not it is time for a new logo.
Is your logo descriptive of what your startup does?
Descriptive logos detail what services/products a startup provides. For example, if you owned a computer hardware startup and your logo was a monitor screen, that is a descriptive logo. The issue with descriptive logos is that they focus on what you do rather than why you do it.
Logos should be somewhat representative of the fundamental purpose behind your startup and the emotional resonance of your brand (more on this later). Furthermore, descriptive logos are a terrible solution in the long-term, especially if they are focused on a particular technology. Reason being, we don't know how long any particular products or services will be around.
Does your logo look like all of your competitors?
Everyone loves to chalk up Apple as one of the greatest brands of all time. While the logo is the tip of their branding iceberg, it successfully demonstrates the need to stand out. Here is an example of what I mean:
You see, it would have been easy for Apple to create a blue logotype just like their successful competitors, but they would not have been identifiable at all. They would have been pegged as a copycat. The goal of a logo is to be an easily identified mark that helps people recognize your startup. If your logo looks just like all of your competitors, then your logo isn't doing its job.
Did you receive all of the proper formats of your logo when you first got it?
We're diving into the weeds here, but this is an important part of logo design. The downside to sites like Fiverr, Upwork, and 99Designs is that they do not guide users through the proper ways your logo should be distributed. For example, the logo on your website should be in an SVG (scalable vector graphic) format, not a PNG or JPEG. It's not your job as a startup to know this, but you should be informed by the designer which one to use. They also do not develop variants for specific applications like social media, favicons, or different lockups for different applications. In short, if you find yourself scrambling to make your logo work in different contexts, it is obvious that the logo was not built with those applications in mind.
Is it legible and memorable?
Effective logos are simple. The reason for this is so that they can be easily recognized in a crowded market and distinguished from other marks. Simplicity, in the context of logos, could be distilled into two key components:
Legibility (how easy it is to read)
Memorability (how well you, your team, and your customers remember it).
Your logo is not a place to get fancy with grandiose illustrations or granular details. It needs to be just as clear at .5 inches tall as it would be on a billboard.
A simple test to check for these qualifiers is to try and draw your logo from memory. Ask your team and some of your loyal customers to do the same. Are they completely off? If they are, it's time to change.
Has the brand of your startup changed?
Your logo is not your brand, the brand is the gut feeling someone has toward your startup. This feeling is hard to pinpoint without walking through a formalized brand strategy process, but it is found and felt over time.
While logos are not meant for communicating everything about the company, a good logo will be appropriate for the brand. For example, Metallica's logo would not suite a company like Gerber Baby Food because the emotional qualities are at ends with each other. Gerber wants people to feel happy and cared for, while Metallica wants you to feel the wrath of heavy metal.
The first step is understanding what the feeling you want someone to have toward your startup is. Once you can define that, you can see how your logo matches up. If they are in contention with each other, it's time to change.
How does your startup's logo stack up against these questions?