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The Shapes of Shortcut

Al Power

The Challenge

With an ever growing competitive landscape, we here at shortcut.com were challenged with creating a unique, illustrative brand style that helped separate us from the rest, as well as telling a unique, clear story of why Shortcut is so special.

The Process

We knew what the challenge was, but how do you actually go about making it happen? Scalability and consistency being a key factor for the project, it was important to ensure we had a solid process to move smoothly and effectively.

Let's go!

Research

A deep dig into the landscape around us to see what we were up against allowed us to understand the challenge ahead. It gave us the chance to review current trends and understand the scope of the project - what worked and what didn’t work.

Ideation

We decided that evolving our style was going to be key. We had a pretty generic vector based style, but we knew we had to pull it up a notch. We wanted our our brand to be story led. We didn’t want something boring and dismissible.

The ideation stage was the most creative and time consuming part of the process. This was so crucial. It let us try out multiple ideas, to see what worked and what didn’t. Communication and openness was key. We had to be honest about what worked and what didn’t work.

Here are some of the ideas we explored that help us on our way:

We got it to the Peppa Pig Effect stage and felt it worked really nicely. A soft illustrative style, using our core palette as the outer stroke, and opacities of that color as the fill, coupled with a hatched effect for our shading.

So we had an illustration style. But now what? To really expand your illustration arm within a brand, we needed to be able to use that style to tell your story.

Defining our Story

Having an illustration style is fine, but using that style as part of a bigger story is what’s really important. Use that style to tell your brand story. Too often brands think once an illustration style is created that their job is done. Having a style without a story is like having makeup on without a personality. We needed to be able to apply that style to something that would allow us to scale.

Here are some of the ideas we explored that help us on our way:

Defining and Refining

We were intrigued by the idea of the shapes, alive, watching you work. But how could we create a story that lined up with project management. We started to iterate different possible concepts to see where it took us.

The Shapes are alive

What if the shapes were tasks. Each being carefully placed in a specific way that allowed another shape to be balanced on top, all delicately being used to form a solid structure. Something that was beautiful in its uniqueness. Just like project management.

Project management is a balancing act, but if you are careful and know what risks to take, you will create amazing products.

Here are some of the structures we created:

Scaling the Illustration Story

Assets were created to compliment the new scene illustration story style. Spot illustrations and iconography were created, along with background patterns to allow push the style across all touch points such as google docs, and swag etc.

Here is a collection of the different stages of the style to help reinforce the consistency at all levels:

Smaller, more focused spot illustrations

More detailed illustrations using shapes for empty states

Blog illustrations that align with our shapes approach

And of course our Mascots

One of the core reasons we decided to ideate around shapes in the first place was because of our cool little mascots, who are of course shapes. The idea is that from the outside you see our core branding, which is made up of shapes, but as you dig a little deeper into our brand identity, you start noticing that our shapes are indeed our mascots, each with their own little character. Each as cute as the other…

The Future

Who knows what the future holds, but what we can say is the plan is constantly evolve our brand output. We’ve created the scaffolding for our brand story, now we’re going to start pushing things and see how far we can fly. All we ask is that you come along for the journey and enjoy the ride.

Be sure to check out some of these links to see the brand identity in the wild!

Shortcut.com — to see our brand in full flight

Design.Shortcut.com — to learn more about the team design with love and care (we’re hiring)

Engineering.Shortcut.com — to find about about the engineers who make it all happen (we’re hiring here too)

Dribbble.com/Shortcut — check out our Dribbble page for the most recent outputs…

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