The core of Handshake’s business is an iPad app, so it was important to develop a strong mark to serve as an app icon. I began the ideation stage by sketching out as many concepts as I could think of (again, this is incredibly important for identity design).
My first set of concepts involved creating connections within or around the letter H—an experiment to see how far we could move away from the literal handshake.Even at this early stage, it was important to consider how the mark would work in black and white.
The next concept took us a step closer to my original thesis, and completely dropped the idea of using the H in the mark. My internal team liked the direction this was going, but neither the arrow, plus sign, or heart was particularly hitting the mark. The overlapping X was moving in the right direction, but I really felt that this mark needed to connect together somehow.
In the next round of sketches, I felt very strongly that this was the right direction to pursue. Our goal was to create a bold, strong, technical mark that would ideally connect with the idea of a handshake. I developed as many different permutations as I could: connected lines, overlapping line, etc. I wanted to get this in front of my team as quickly as I could.
Final Brand Identity
I refined the mark into the final version (pictured below). I was very pleased that we had collectively managed to move on from the literal handshake illustration and adopt a much tighter, abstract mark. Selling this direction took time, and I worked on flushing out the remaining “kit of parts” while the founders contemplated this change.
The existing color palette was orange, black, and grey. My goal was to inject some life and personality into into this business by selecting brighter, friendlier colors. Eventually we settled on this palette, with specific uses for each color.
Typography plays an important role in every brand, and my goal here was to create a more personable image. I selected a bold sans–serif with a wide range of weights to champion the Handshake brand.
I documented our new brand guidelines, which is an essential framework for future creative work. This is important to provide to other teams in the company (like marketing and sales), future design hires, and third party vendors. The examples you see above are included, as well as guidelines for how to use / not use the logo lockup (pictured below).
This guide ensures that the Handshake brand will always be displayed in the manner we intent it to.
I worked with the marketing team to create a series of potential new homepage designs. Some of these were implemented immediately with the existing identity). We A/B tested multiple iterations of these extensively, and found a combination that resulted in increased conversions. Once the new logo was approved by our legal team, we implemented it across the website (pictured below).
I mocked up different variations of potential homepages / landing pages as part of the identity redesign process, like the one pictured below.
We completely overhauled the pricing page, introduced new tiers, and made the differences between them more readily apparent. This page was constantly being tested and tweaked, and we experimented with many different versions of the business model. The overall goal, of course, was to convert more customers at higher price points, which we achieved within a few months of starting the experiments.
Working closely with marketing, I created wireframes for a new Features section. Wireframes are obviously essential for product design, and I’ve found that they’re also very useful for: a) helping develop a content outline and b) aligning all stakeholders on what what these pages will look like.
Our existing site featured only screenshots of the product, and I decided to source (and shoot) imagery that would show people interacting with our software. This all played back into the thesis of making the new Handshake brand feel more personable.
Next I moved on to overhauling our email communications. We created templates, added imagery, and created new iconography to communicate what we needed new customers to do. I helped the marketing team develop new content for each email and drip campaign, reducing the amount of copy so that each email was focused on one or two things at a time.
Seeking to differentiate Handshake from the competition (everyone used stock photos), I developed a library of custom illustrations for blog posts. This give Handshake unique imagery to share on social.
Finally, we extended the new branding presentations, business cards, sell sheets, sales materials, and all different types of marketing collateral.