Thursday, July 12, 2018 | Kate Ratner
Cloud Construct works with established organizations and small businesses alike, helping them push their technology and design further to solve problems for both the business and the user. One thing we always do, no matter the client, is ensure brand is not an afterthought.
We are passionate about working with startups, especially startups in which the brand has yet to be fully defined. Most organizations understand the WHO, the WHAT, the WHERE, and the WHEN. They often come to Cloud for help on the HOW. The last W is the WHY. WHY is the reason for being. Many companies don’t really get to this point because they are not brand led. While the brand was not yet defined for GabrielsVault, their WHY was so clear that we knew we would have many options to choose from to help them create their brand.
GabrielsVault came to Cloud Construct with the idea of a platform to create, securely store, and send messages to loved ones in the future. They had decided on a name and had been considering multiple design options and treatments. After working with our team on initial user experience and technical concepts, GabrielsVault realized we might be able to help them with their brand as well.
We started reviewing the story. The idea for the service came from a very personal experience; losing a loved one without the opportunity to talk about life’s important moments and be able to preserve their memories. The motivation was to make it easy for people to preserve their memories with family and friends in multiple media formats and to avoid the regret of missing the chance before it was too late.
The platform is also intended to capture significant moments in everyday family life; weddings, babies, children reaching adulthood, graduations, etc. The idea is not solely based on loss/death, but to share moments with future generations through future messaging.
The problem for the team solve, and when I say team, I truly mean everyone involved, was how to create a brand that would convey all these benefits and important aspects without defining the brand mood in terms death while explicitly emphasizing the bigger picture.
The brand exploration started by creating mood boards that would represent brand through a combination of photos, color, and other visual elements. One thing we focused on immediately was the idea of intergenerational conversations. We discovered that soft colors and calm, peaceful, uplifting and powerful imagery such as ocean waves, and sunsets were able to portray these larger ideas the best.
We also considered imagery that emphasized everyday tasks that bond families together and reinforce memories and traditions such as meal sharing, vacations and activities.
We found that closeups of happy and calm people looking straight at you, as if talking to you, could be used to represent the idea of “travel through time” conversations.
However, the team decided we wanted to limit the focus on being too specific. Concrete faces, age and situations can be a double-edged sword, limiting as much as inspiring. Instead, we wanted to convey feelings, mood and concept. This helped determine the final choice of the hero image.
From there we focused on opportunities within the name and logo. The name GabrielsVault has powerful connotations. Gabriel, as the messenger, has relevance across Christianity, Judaism, Islam and the Baha’i Faith where the angel Gabriel delivered important messages, including delivering the Quran to Mohammad. There can also be negative associations around the end times, including the notion of Gabriel's horn, which isn't necessarily Gabriel using, but many people make the association. Since we were focused on positive association, the team decided to shift the brand focus from “Gabriel’s” to “Vault.” We had two important reasons for doing so. First, was to de-emphasize and not allow the “death” aspect to overshadow the full potential. Second was to reinforce the idea that the platform is designed to be very reliable in delivery and preserve the user’s treasures. It’s your virtual Vault that’s as reliable as a physical vault in a bank.
The initial idea, and seemingly very natural progression, was to use heavy typography for the word Vault, adding a keyhole to the “U” to make it look like a real vault while showing contrast with a “handwritten personal letter” idea for the word Gabriel’s.
Looking at the treatment we realized that Vault was important, but it was such a traditional idea and it would limit the idea of what GabrielsVault could deliver.
We moved towards the personal message idea; something unique and individual like handwriting. That’s how we arrived at the idea of using a script font and we added a quill pen as a part of the letter “V”. We thought this pen resembled a wing too much. In the next iteration we emphasized the quill more.
By gradually refining the lines and cutting off the noise of unnecessary elements we finalized the logo. The logo is clean and minimalistic. It reflects the purpose of the platform - preserve only important memories. You can see the quill is more developed.
To reinforce the idea of handwriting we used the handmade paper texture and color as a background. We chose the blue color to create a strong layout structure which highlights the technology that powers the platform.
We then expanded this brand across their organization and although the business is primarily digital it also needed to present well across all mediums, such as business cards, documents and brochures. Once we were satisfied the solution worked we finalized the treatment, and a brand was born.
This process sounds simple and easy but in truth we developed these ideas and directions iteratively with the brand stewards, and it would never have been as successful at establishing their brand identity if GabrielsVault had not been so open and so clear about the WHY.
Cloud is proud to have been part of this process, and to have earned the trust of the GabrielsVault team in order to get such a successful result.
GabrielsVault launched in the winter of 2018. The entire effort was a testament Cloud Construct’s technical team, design team and of course the client. Please read Cloud Construct’s case study for further information regarding the UI and technical approach to GabrielsVault.