Know Yourself

Communicating a message to others about how you are different is impossible without introspection

November 22, 2019

Building a brand is about connecting people to a company at an emotional level. What do people connect with? Other people and their stories. No matter how lame and uneventful you believe your journey to have been, your story as a founder, entrepreneur, and business person is exciting to someone else who has never lived it. Every detail is a new experience for them.

For example, I've lived in San Diego my whole life. Naturally, the beach and amazing weather don't surprise or excite me anymore because I've seen them so much. But to someone who lives in Canada who has never seen a wave, felt sand between their toes, or spent an entire day playing beach volleyball, it's completely foreign and interesting to them.

Set aside your products for a second and think about your story. Where are you from? Where are you now? What does that say about you? Lastly, how can you embed that story into your brand?

The brand of a startup is almost always a mirror of the founder. If you want to build a stellar brand, you must know yourself first.

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Dashlane Visual Identity | Software Branding

How Dashlane's identity elevated their brand and reinforce their position.

1.18.2020

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.

Part I

Part II

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.

Image Credit: Dashlane

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.

Image Credit: Under Consideration
Image Credit: Pentagram
Image Credit: Pentagram
Image Credit: Pentagram
Image Credit: Pentagram
Image Credit: Pentagram
Image Credit: Pentagram

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.

Parting thoughts:

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.

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Steps | Software Branding

Don't play the game for Q1 only, play for years to come

1.18.2020

With companies like Uber, Medium, Squarespace, Dashlane, Zapier, Mailchimp, Postmates and the like bringing in millions of dollars a month, it's easy to get envious. They have it all, they have it now, why can't you?

We see these companies from their highlight reels. We don't see the hours put in to create their MVP, the number of times they were told "no" after a investor pitch, or how they too fell into the same boat of wanting it all right now. The truth is, you cannot let your brand fall victim to this. Comparing your software startup to ones that have been around for years is unfair. It's unfair to the work you're doing and it will set you up to be disappointed.

In building your brand, you'll want to do many things. You'll want multiple offerings, to touch multiple markets, and impact multiple user groups.

Don't.

Focus.

Help a specific group of people do something specific. Something that will help change their life, earn their trust, and get you past the first step in building a brand that can stand shoulder to shoulder with those you admire.

If you want to get there, take the steps one at a time. Otherwise you will fall. To put it into perspective, here are the founding years for all of the companies above:

Uber 2009

Medium 2012

Mailchimp 2001

Squarespace 2003

Dashlane 2009

Zapier 2011

Postmates 2011

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