The Connected Brand: Trustworthy, Collaborative, and Bright
Tuesday March 10, 2020
Designed and defined by Underline Studio, Tammy Chiasson, and countless others, Connected’s 2018 rebrand not only revolutionized the way we portray ourselves, it also exudes our vision and mission of becoming the end-to-end product development firm. As the Marketing Graphic Designer for Connected, I get to work with the brand every day and in the (almost) year I have been here, it has grown leaps and bounds because of its strong foundations.
From its foundations, the Connected brand is versatile. It’s professional, yet playful. It’s simple, yet exuberant. Yes, we are a corporate consultancy, but we are also a bright, collaborative team of diverse individuals that work together in unique ways to build better products. Everything in our brand book and outside of it portrays this to the world outside our walls.
To any brand there are the basics: the logo/wordmark, typography, colour palette, illustrations, and iconography, all wrapped up in a pretty package that results in a unique personality. Each aspect of the Connected brand serves its own purpose and collectively, they come together in a harmonious fashion to show people who we are, what we believe in, and what we do. Below, I break down our brand into each crucial component, explaining why the look and feel of each is the way it is.
Our logo is unfinished by design, illustrating that our job is never done, we will always be iterating, and our products will never stop evolving. In Underline’s words:
“Connected’s logo is a stylized wordmark that represents their pursuit of better. Just like products are in a constant state of iteration and improvement, so is Connected.”
The unfinished aspect of the logo also portrays the idea that we are the missing piece of the puzzle in terms of the product development cycle. We have introduced a new type of firm, one that bridges the software engineering, design, and strategy into one connected team.
Our logo is solid, professional, and clean and when it is paired with other elements, it serves as the stabilizing part of any asset.
Our brand typeface is the beautifully constructed Neue Haas Unica Pro. It is simple, legible, and informative, rather than decorative. We predominantly use the “light” weight and when you take a close look at each letter, it’s hard to ignore the pin straight lines descending or ascending to a smooth tail. The typeface itself is quite sharp and utilitarian, but can be played up when scaled large, tightened up with tracking, and accompanied by a pop of colour. At first glance, it is not what you would call a bold or expressive typeface, but with the right treatments, it can be molded to any mood.
Our blue is business oriented but vibrant—not navy, not muted, unapologetically bold showing people we are confident in what we do. It is widely known that blue represents depth, stability, trust, loyalty, confidence, intelligence, and many other characteristics, explaining why many businesses flock to this colour.
Our secondary colours are teal, yellow, and red. Our colour palette roughly makes up the primary colours. The meaning I personally take from this choice, is that the primary colours are the building blocks of the colour wheel, representing the building blocks of our business—an end-to-end product development firm. We are always building and working together to improve, innovate, and grow with products. The teal is trendy yet somehow timeless as it’s been around for decades, being a popular colour in the 50s, 60s, 90s, and 2010s. Our bright-as-can-be yellow shows the intellect of our people and their ability to never stop teaching and learning. And finally, the warm red brings balance to the palette.
Designing an asset with only one of these colours results in a clean, bold, and sophisticated look, while designing an asset with more than one of these colours creates a bright and exuberant feel that shows a different side of our brand personality. Like I said earlier, our brand is extremely versatile.
Our brand illustrations were created by illustrator Christopher DeLorenzo and are instrumental in portraying our professional but quirky personality as they are designed to “utilize spots of colour from our brand palette and are whimsical with a noticeably hand-drawn quality.” Paired with our more structured elements, like our logo or typeface, these brand illustrations really add a flair that can change any design asset from something stationary to something dynamic with movement.
Each of the brand illustrations are designed to capture Connected’s ideologies and values. For example, what we call our Build Better Products tree represents “the spirit of true product development. Software-powered products are constantly evolving, even branching off into multiple products or growing into large-scale platforms and ecosystems.”
Our iconography plays a critical role in evoking the emotion of the brand within all manner of assets. We recently updated our iconography language with additional icons coming to life through our blog and social media. The icons are designed starting with either a coloured circle or square and are built upon with solid black lines to create something recognizable. This can represent what Connected does on a daily basis, we take a building block and make sense of it through collaboration and hard work. These coloured circles and squares are echoed throughout Christopher DeLorenzo’s illustrations. The icons are kept as simple as possible to balance out the more intricate brand illustrations.
It all comes together
Since starting at Connected in April of last year, I’ve had the pleasure of designing a couple of our firsts. In September, we released our very first ebook ‘The Frame Game: How to Define Your Product Strategy’ in partnership with Gibson Biddle, former VP of Product at Netflix. The challenge was to create something along our brand guidelines with a new illustration style that did not attempt to replicate our brand illustrations. I used purely geometric shapes with texture and shadow to create a dynamic abstract image that had lots of movement and could represent a wide variety of concepts. Even though this style was not necessarily in our brand guide, it honoured the brand personality. In February of this year, we also released our first whitepaper ‘Turning Noise Into Sound.’ Using the rules of our brand book, I designed a whitepaper using another completely different illustration style paired with our colours and typography. The style of illustration for this whitepaper went for more an isometric style because the whitepaper was talking about the influence that specific products have on our lives.
It is easy to be given a set of brand guidelines and follow the rules to create a branded asset for any company. It is not so easy to get to know the ins and outs of a brand and use the rules to grow the visual possibilities of that brand. It’s much more than following rules, it is understanding how the asset is supposed to feel when a user passes across it and the nuances that achieve that feeling. In our pursuit of product impact, the Connected brand is how people understand us before they are given further context. My job, and the rationale of the brand, is to make who we are and how we work crystal clear from that very first moment.