They say 7 seconds is all you have to make a good first impression. However, on the web that’s down to a shockingly short 2.6 seconds according to a study at the Missouri University of Science & Technology. Too little time to say anything, how do you make sure to come across in a positive, meaningful way? Turns out, appearances matter.
Over the last few years we’ve been working hard building products that focus on helping teams work well together.
Teamwork is complex, a lot of the time we think we know what we should build to solve a specific problem. We research and test our ideas where possible, sometimes it’s best to just get it out in the real world in the hands of teams. We rapidly build the best product we can, learn how well it works sooner, and make improvements faster.
Consequently, we haven’t committed as much time as we’d like figuring out how Saberr and it’s products should communicate it’s message on a visual level.
Saberr is smart, intelligent, approachable, but wears a mismatched suit. That’s sort of how we felt about Saberr’s brand up to now. No one ever told Saberr how to dress.
The absence of any guidelines not only harms messaging but also the user experience. A customer using Saberr Base who jumps over to CoachBot would be presented with a completely different visual language and is forced to relearn the interface. Sometimes even between different pages… in the same product!
Over the last 6 months our goal was to help Saberr dress well, in a meaningful and consistent way. To build a brand that is recognisably Saberr, whilst standing out from other workplace tools. We’re pretty pleased with how it turned out. 🙂
Thankfully, we weren’t starting completely from scratch. We’d spent time defining a set of keywords that we thought best described Saberr as a brand - our products, our people and our approach.
These words acted as a compass to navigate us through the decision making landscape when creating a visual language to match.
Faced with a decision, instead of hearing “well…I prefer this colour”, the keywords helped us approach decisions with less subjectivity and ask, “which option feels more positive yet knowledgable?” helping us make the right calls by reinforcing the Saberr brand at every decision.
Logos encompass so much about a brand. When designing them you are encouraged to tackle many hard questions head on, and quickly, to help inform all that follows. So that’s where we started.
We wanted to create a consistent logo set for each product all following a similar theme.
The 4 logos — Saberr, Coachbot, Saberr Base and Coaches Community — are now one unique family of logos, all clearly linked together.
They are based on a set of simple, rounded geometric shapes to make up a letter signifying what each one represents.
Every logo is formed of two parts that feel closely linked, like puzzle pieces they work together to form the whole. A subtle idea that has a teamwork undertone to it.
The use of simple shapes would become the building blocks of our new brand — it’s an adaptable motif at the centre of our design language.
Building products that are accessible to everyone is a core value at Saberr. Colour, and inherently contrast have a huge part to play in creating a brand that not only looks great, but is accessible.
We set out to create a high contrast colour palette that would be flexible and follow our brand keywords, with plenty of character.
The old palette complete with the affectionately dubbed ‘Summer in Mordor Green’ was certainly accessible, but lacked character.
Contrast it with our new, bright and vibrant palette bursting with personality.
From a CoachBot chat on your phone inches from your face, to an information dense values report in Saberr Base on your laptop, to a poorly calibrated projector at the other end of the room in a CoachBot session. In our products, information relies on being conveyed by text in a wide range of contexts.
Finding a typeface that scales well whilst maintaining legibility in all scenarios was key, but the choice of typeface (or font for the less fancy) conveys so much more about what you’re trying to say than the words it carries.
We went through many typefaces and combinations, testing them at different sizes and at a wide range of viewing distances and contexts (to the amusement of our colleagues!)
Meet our perfect pair — the beautifully rounded, approachable Aperçu for headings, and the incredibly flexible and practical Akkurat for body text.
The pair complement each other in a way we couldn’t find with any other combination, together they are ‘knowledgable’ yet ‘playful’.
Using characters in illustrations is a great and inclusive way of representing teams visually in digital products. Our monsters were generally well received but didn’t reflect some of the key aspects of our brand — knowledgable, insightful and intelligent (plus we had a some reservations from HR directors who were presenting CoachBot to their board!) So we replaced the monsters and borrowed from our recurring shape motif to build a simple set of characters working together as a team. They help reinforce the ‘positive’ and ‘playful’ nature of Saberr, but the overall mood is less childish, more abstract, and more inclusive.
From the very beginning, we knew what we wanted Saberr’s first impression to be, but we know this old friend all too well, who are we to say whether we are creating the impression we want? We needed to get the new Saberr out in front of new people to learn more.
We presented an early set of designs to 200 people unfamiliar with Saberr and asked them to select keywords they felt best described what they had seen. The keywords included our brand keywords amongst other random brand descriptors.
We also measured how we stacked up against other B2B workplace tools by showing 40 of our Saberr Ambassadors a set of websites with logos removed and asked them a set of questions about each one.
The results gave us valuable insight into the the areas where the new Saberr was still a little lacking. We made changes, and went again.
The world of digital software development is that of constant building and refinement. We are incredibly excited to have rolled out Saberr’s new brand everywhere.
As more teams choose to use Saberr products we will continue to learn about what works and what needs work.
Our next steps are to refine what we have done so far and document our new visual language alongside our existing brand guidelines, creating a design system we can all use to create new things that are undeniably Saberr.
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