The Daily Dot: Brand Pattern
art direction, illustration, pattern
As The Daily Dot continues to increase its brand visibility and presence, there emerges new requirements and new ways for their branding to thrive. The variety of branded moments in today’s online media landscape has never been greater, from social media cover art, to digital wallpapers, to video backdrops, to swag, and everything in between. As a growing company, The Daily Dot needed an asset that would not only establish familiarity but would also be flexible enough to work across several implementations. Looking first at our immediate needs, cover art and backdrops for video interviews, we decided to create a pattern that could enhance our brand visibility and communicate our areas of coverage.
final pattern (dark and light versions)
Besides a logo and a brand color, we didn’t have much branding to speak of. I had only recently written our Style Guide, so there wasn’t any precedence or much of a foundation to build on. We were also in the early stages of redesigning our website and repositioning the company as a whole. I knew that, if successfully executed, a pattern could go a long way to advancing our brand presence. I wanted to do my due diligence to create a pattern that was tonally appropriate for our future. I started by creating a very rough proof of concept using an existing illustration we had commissioned for another project and then developing moodboards that would guide the design.
proof of concept
We were trying to position ourselves as thought leaders on online culture and the way the Internet shapes society. We wanted our aesthetic to be unique and memorable, speaking to a young, influential, culturally aware, and digitally savvy audience. After considering how each of these aesthetics could support a change in our positioning, we felt as though the Victorian Toile or Vector Iconography direction was the most appropriate. Although the Geometric Pattern speaks to a modern, digitally focused atmosphere, we felt as though it was too "tech-y" and lacked enough personality to make a worthwhile impression.
We decided to persue both directions as each could be appropriate for different situations (toile for more formal, in-person/print applications and vector for digital use). I came up with a list of vignettes for the toile pattern that our freelance illustrator could tackle.
Snowden, cyber-security, surveillance, Anonymous
Scene: street lamp post in background (on the streetlamp is a bunch of surveillance cameras going up the post); Snowden (in foreground) standing in front of the post w/ arms crossed, wearing a USA flag T-Shirt (make it subtle); maybe we only have snowden from the waist up.
Retro tech, Zack Morris cell phone, Apple II computer, Gameboy, pagers, etc.
Scene: run of the mill female student walking or sitting on a fence in a field with a Zach Morris cell phone to her ear, pager on her belt, and a Gameboy peeking out her front pocket.
Gaming, Oculus Rift, Internet of Things/future tech
Scene: a wheel barrel motif and in the wheelbarrow is a bunch of these products: Oculus Rifts, Xboxes, Playstation 4, Apple Watches, Fitbits. We can have a dude in overalls, wearing an Oculus and a plaid shirt and smiling ear to ear.
Game of Thrones/Star Wars original trilogy mashup, Marvel, fandom, etc.
Scene: a cute picnic motif, BB-8 + Deadpool + Khaleesi sitting on ground having a picnic; one of her little dragons on her shoulder.
The rise of YouTubers, YouTube celebrities/shows, view counters
Scene: can we do a museum-like bust with the head of Tyler Oakley w/ a tilted crown on his head (maybe one other YT star) and under the bust, on the stand, is the YT logo.
Netflix and Chill, the “Are you still watching?” pop up, binge watching, streaming video
Scene: take a page out of the Cialis commercial (in terms of the angle), but they are on some lawn chairs + kissing, and on the iPad is the Netflix logo; we probably want to have a over the shoulder perspective on this one.
Daily Dot logo in the middle; done up in that nice toile style
Other little mini-vignettes to sprinkle around the wallpaper in the negative space
Small flock of drones.
A pile of flowers but they have the iconic Windows hourglass on them.
A cracked Anonymous mask on a string hanging from a nail.
Although the idea was inspired by a historical aesthetic, the style of illustration was very particular. I asked our illustrator to deliver a proof of concept based on one of the vignettes to see if these modern scenes would work in such an distinctive style. We ultimately decided to scrap this direction, only because the costs of the custom illustrations was prohibitive.
Meanwhile, I created the vector illustrations. I chose subjects that would be relevant to our areas of coverage (entertainment, tech, geek culture, etc.) and legible at the smaller sizes used in a pattern.
After some trial and error on the placement and density of the icons and A/B voting on designs that repeated on a 90 degree grid vs. ones that were off-axis, I settled on the final pattern. Once our website redesign was underway and we had decided to scrap our old branded color, I changed the color pallette on the pattern to black and white, creating a dark version and a light version to be used depending on what would sit in front of it.
pattern in use on a banner ad