ProtoPie News10 min read

The Future of the ProtoPie Brand

We recently conducted a series of brand-building workshops to define what our brand is and how it should be portrayed. Here are the results.

ProtoPieSeptember 28, 2021
The future of the ProtoPie brand article thumbnail


After our brand redesign, we've been mainly focusing on increasing brand awareness. We've promoted our brand across various channels - from our website, to social media, ads, and educational programs - so that customers can see, experience, feel and ultimately purchase our product. However, we've encountered some issues when executing and managing our brand design as the company has grown. Generally, these issues have centered around the following areas:

  • What is our brand?
  • Do our product and branded assets contain our brand philosophy?
  • Is our brand delivered as a consistent image to users?
  • Are our brand and product on the same page?
  • Is our brand message clear enough?

Above all else, we needed a consistent brand tone. That's why our brand and product teams came together in a bid to integrate our design from different channels. Over the past few weeks, they've gone through a series of focused, bitesized workshops to define our brand in granular detail. The participants had two main goals:

  • To define our brand personality
  • To establish our design principle

Through several workshops, we defined our brand as below:

Step 1. Brand Personality Keyword (Tone of Voice)

brand personality keyword

Approachable, Inspirational, Nurturing

We've chosen 3 keywords to represent our tone of voice and brand personality, based off our vision and mission Incubate Ideas to Innovation. They are: Approachable, Inspirational, and Nurturing. You'll notice that our brand positioning is quite different from many other SaaS companies. However, after considering the value that we want ProtoPie to deliver to its users, we're confident that these keywords are just right. But it's important to clarify that these keywords relate to our brand as a whole rather than our product specifically, which can be described as having Powerful, Enjoyable, and Intuitive attributes.

However, this clarity into our brand positioning did raise another concern: How can we have an overarching design consensus when we have different values for our brand and our product? What design principles do we need in order to cover both?

These questions lead to us running the Design Principle workshops. Through this workshop, Brand and Product designers came to the conclusion that we need a larger theme or keyword that can cover both the brand and the product. As a result, Clever, Caring, and Magical became the basic keywords to represent our design principle, although they are not used officially.

Step 2. ProtoPie Design Principle

ProtoPie design principle

Easy to understand

Every visual representation of ProtoPie must portray a clear message and leave no doubt in viewers' minds. They should instantly make sense.

Fine-tuned, micro-interactions breathe life into our brand

ProtoPie animates still objects and brings them to life. Adding a subtle but powerful motion is the best way to demonstrate this attribute throughout our design.

Attracts users

Our friendly attitude and unique visual tweaks make us recognizable and attractive. We must be friendly, positive, and always accessible to users (or potential users.) We want to have an identifiable look by adding unique details that are customized in the ProtoPie way.

Leave white space to invite users

Leaving uncluttered, deactivated space invites users to bring their imagination into our product. It allows users to explore new ideas of their own. In that white space, we emphasize essential elements to reveal only what is truly important.

Okay, so we've defined our brand personality and the design principle that showcases our personality. The next step was to visualize this concept. This will be the core design motif that expresses ProtoPie as a visual language.

Step 3. Brand DNA (Design Motif)

ProtoPie creates interactive motion. We give our users the power to drag out undiscovered, still ideas and animate them. Within ProtoPie, static objects can be brought to life with only a few touches. We wanted our Brand DNA to reflect our conceptual model of drawing an interactive ‘Response’ through combining an ‘Object’ and a ‘Trigger.’ Based on this philosophy, we came to 3 types of Brand DNA.

motion motif

Act & React

The interactions that we create start from a single, simple motion. The more you add and layer them, the richer the interactions become. Inspired by this chain reaction that takes place within ProtoPie, we decided to take this chained wave as our visual element and named the concept ‘Act & React.’

Layered Block

The UI in our product has been designed to show layered interaction pieces/blocks. We drew inspiration from this and ‘Layered Block’ became our next visual motif.

Unified Harmony

We aim to stay approachable, inspirational, and nurturing at all times - and across all channels. To enhance our brand personality, we decided to use harmonious gradient colors and 3D illustrations. Colors and shapes within ProtoPie are blended into each other, creating a unified harmony.

Step 4. Design Execution - Visual Elements Inspired by our product

Once we create our Brand DNA, we then started to sketch out our visual elements. We've been trying to figure out what our visual look is, something that's truly unique to us as a brand. We had previously aligned our branded assets with the 'Free your ideas' brand campaign. This metaphorical expression was chosen as it reflected the soft mood of our brand, rather than portraying a strict, constrained image of our product.

An abstract expression of interaction & motion
Cloud lamp motif to express ideas image
An abstract expression of interaction & motion / Cloud lamp motif to express ideas

Through this brand design system project, however, we wanted to break away from the limitations of visual communication that came from abstract expression and reduce the gap between the product and the brand. We wanted to express our product more intuitively as a brand. Therefore we made our 'ProtoPie' way by adding 3 visual motifs - Layered Blocks (from our Brand DNA), Timeline Handlebars, and Touch Wave.

  • Layered blocks

Our two interaction pieces, 'Trigger & Response' cannot be found in any other tools - they form the art of ProtoPie's unique identity. We visualized these combinations of triggers (actions) and responses (reactions) that make up dynamic interactions. When these triggers and responses are put into motion, they reflect our Brand DNA, 'Act & React'.

layered blocks example
  • Timeline handlebar

The Timeline Handlebar that is used to adjust the duration of interaction blocks is another concept that's unique to ProtoPie. We extracted our line design motif from this concept. Each line represents an interaction and represents our design principle 'A fine-tuned, micro-interaction is what makes us lively.' More than one line style can be used in one frame, as shown in the example below.

timeline handlebar example
  • Touch Wave

Touch Wave is a visual idea taken from 'touch points' (these are essential when testing prototypes in the player app.) This motion gradually spreads with a gradient to vividly express the touch interaction. The touch wave can be used in various ways - for instance, for highlighting text as shown in the image below.

touch wave example

Step 5. Design Execution - Style Guide

We also created a style guide for colors or moods so that we can create visual elements in a unified, consistent manner.

  • Color
ProtoPie color system guide

The ProtoPie Color System consists of 11 color spectrums. This integrated palette is for both the brand and the product. We took 6 warm colors from the ProtoPie color system for the main branding color palette. Our unique color palette, which we named our 'Unified Harmony Color System', is versatile for many different channels. Layering and blending a Base Color and an Overlay color, we created a Unified Color. The system helps our designers to stay balanced between the brand and the product. It also inspires users to be more creative and demonstrates our friendly, approachable mood.

  • 3D Mood
ProtoPie 3D graphic styles

The last thing we defined was the 3D graphics styles which are indispensable for ProtoPie. The 3D assets use light from a comfortable, sunny home, and create a bright and pleasant atmosphere with a rounded angle illustration. The 'hand', which frequently appears when presenting interaction prototypes with 3D, uses various skin tones to create an easy-to-reach and friendly look-and-feel.

Step 6. Applying our brand system across various channels

Building our brand system is only step 1 - we then need to apply this across various channels (such as websites, SMS communications, and any educational content related to ProtoPie.) Our ultimate goal is to become an Approachable, Inspirational, and Nurturing brand as users encounter a consistent tone-of-voice and look-and-feel.

applying design system on SNS
applying design system of handlebar
applying design system of layered block

Finishing up...

ProtoPie brand system

Our brand system was designed so that we could create a consistent image and personality, and to help everyone design according to the tone, style, and attitude that make up ProtoPie. We're aware that brand design is an ongoing journey - this is a process that will continue to be developed in the future. Please stay tuned and keep tabs on our journey to strengthen and maintain ProtoPie's identity!

- ProtoPie Brand Design Team, Rina Selin Jun & Jane

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