Design, Brand Identity
Fuad is the creator of the Plugbot. After being a long time sneaker enthusiast, he began to realize how lucrative the market had become. Sneaker culture is culture. Sneakers are hip hop and fashion and everything trendy. What was once relegated to the fringe few is now an essential part of popular culture.
There’s nothing like the excitement of copping one of your grails.There’s so much demand for new sneaker releases that nowadays you can expect a shoe to sell out in mere seconds. This has led to increased competition among buyers. So much so that a whole sub-industry of professional buyers and resellers. These professional sneakerheads are always trying to get an edge for the latest releases, and so many of them have invested into computer programs called “Bots” that allow them to place several orders simultaneously and in record time.
As Fuad studied the industry, he used his silicon valley background to really dig into the technical standards of the market. That’s when he realized that most of the bots on the market were built by amateurs and had inconsistent performance.
There he saw an opportunity to disrupt the Sneaker Bot industry by bringing best-in-class software engineering principles to building a better product. They had the technical talent and software requirements, but no product design.
This was an issue because sneakerheads are picky consumers who expect good design. They care about experience, aesthetics, and visuals.
So Fuad came to us to create a brand and design a product to distinguish himself from the pack.
Once we finished on the design, we also worked with the client to name their product/company. Names are delicate. They say who you are to the world. Your name is how you will be remembered. Many people make this decision arbitrarily, but when you’re serious about your business it’s important to think through those kinds of decisions with some intellectual rigor.
We conducted a namestorm to facilitate this process. Our process was thorough and structured.
- We started by forcing ourselves to describe the product in one sentence and in layman terms. This helped ground us and give us a sense of direction.
- Then we discussed the brands traits, adjectives, and sentiments. Much of this pulled from the previous visual design exercise. This defined our lexicon and shared vocabulary.
- Once we had our foundation, we then thought through how we can make the brand feel of the community. We brainstormed several terms and slang from sneaker culture that resonated with brand or had strong positive association/recall.
- By now, we had all of our inputs. Now it was time to see how we could turn those inputs into a memorable name. There are many different types of names you can create for a product. From something that is playful to something completely random. We outlined all the potential categories then created naming alternatives that mapped to each.
To select the best name, we selected a shortlist then use a custom rubric to evaluate the best option. We asked ourselves:
- Is the first impression strong? ✅
- Does it sound good? ✅
- Is it easy to read/pronounce? ✅
- Can you use it in multiple sentences? ✅
- Is quick association positive ✅
- Does it sound credible? ✅
- Is it memorable? ✅
- Does it relate to your positioning? ✅
- Can we get a domain for it? ✅
- Does it feel cool? ✅
- Is it easily understood? ✅
- Is it on-brand? ✅
- Does it communicate the purpose from the get go ✅
- Does it make you nervous? ❌
That’s how we ultimately landed on Mr. Plug and the Plugbot. It was the perfect mix of novelty, personality, cultural relevance, and positive association.
Once we landed on the brand and product name, it was time to pen a logo — one mark to capture it all. Our goal was to design a logo that played off of the brand name, was fun, and communicated what the product was.
To play off the brand name, we took the concept of the “Plugbot” and decomposed it. The plug connects sneakerheads to their favorite sneakers, so we decided to use iconic sneaker silhouettes as a primary component of the logo.
The Jordan brand created sneaker culture in 1985 with the release of the Air Jordan 1. So we chose to incorporate this sneaker into the design.
To allude to the “plug” effect, we explored using different graphics to communicate electricity and how the bot connected sneakerheads to their power source.
We explored using a lightning bolt element, but ultimately settled on a photorealistic depiction of a wall-charger because this communicated the “connection” effect more clearly.
To create the feeling of fun, we leaned on one of our audience’s favorite complementary interests — Gaming. Sneakerheads love gaming. Research reveals that one of the reasons sneakerheads love collecting is bc of the gamified experience of searching, negotiating, and achieving your goals. So we use illustration styles inspired by classic games: Sonic the HedgeHog, Mario, Pacman, etc.
We aligned on different logo treatments for the brand, the founder, and the app based on the use case. We felt the final selections were the best mix of:
- Fun without being cheesy or childish
- Cultural relevance
To craft the visual design of the product, we went through a brand attributes exercise. We presented the client with a series of prompts to help them articulate how they wanted their brand to be perceived.
We started by talking through the basics of which colors they felt represented the brand and why. Then we discussed adjectives, emotions, and characteristics to describe the brand’s image.
We decided on a dark-themed dashboard design with custom color accents. We used red as the default color because of its symbolism to the culture and the fact that it’s most sneakerhead’s fav color. To add a layer of personalization, users can set their favorite color from the profile tab.
We started this project with a clear list of requirements. Fuad and team had already done the heavy lifting of auditing the market and identifying the core surfaces needed. The Sneakerbot industry has matured to the point where there are clear standards and expectations for all bots.
Sneakerbots are essentially fancy task creation tools. They allow you to run tasks that place orders for you on popular sneaker retail sites. So instead of placing the orders from your personal device, you have an army of servers placing dozens of orders at the same exact time, with superhuman speed and precision.
Users need a way to create, monitor, and manage these tasks. There are a few surfaces needed to do that:
- This is the hub where users can see and manage all their tasks. There’s a clear entry point to create new tasks. Users have a clean and simple way to visualize all of the tasks they have and all the associated details. We have a search function for people to search through past tasks. There’s a status field for people to see which tasks are in progress, idle, stopped, or completed. And we include quick action modules for users to easily stop, edit, or delete tasks.
- This where you’ll be able to monitor upcoming releases to prepare yourself ahead of time. It was important that we make the release module visual to improve recognition and appearance.
This section of the app captures all of the user’s billing and account information. It’s important for them to add multiple payment credentials in case they run into any authentication blocks when placing bulk orders.
Proxy and Captcha List
This section of the dashboard allows people to see the proxy servers and captcha solvers they can use. They’ll be able to see the live status of each at the touch of button.
The whole purpose of this tool is to help sneakerheads ensure they can purchase the shoes they want on release day. The success of this product is rooted in task completion. So it’s important for people to have a way to evaluate their bot performance. We created an analytics dashboard that allows people to see their successful checkouts as a proportion of total task created. They can slice the data based on the time horizon or they can see a timeline of successful purchases.
In the marketing materials, we zoomed in on one of the most magic moments for our audience: the moment you tear open your box and see your new shoes in person. There are no words to truly capture what that moment really means. So we wanted to design marketing assets that foreshadowed that moment visually.
The background looks like a new shoebox being ripped open in excitement. The outline font and supporting elements are an homage to the Nike brand, one of the most recognizable brands in the game.
But nothing says, sneaker culture like iconic sneakers. We lined the background with some of the most popular and memorable sneakers to foreshadow all the great inventory people will be able to purchase through the Plugbot. This has the benefit of being more visually appealing, contextually relevant, and distinguished. This also enhances persuasion and raises the product’s status through association. Now when people think about the most popular shoes in the game, they’ll also think about the Plugbot.
This project was a nice trip down memory lane, with a twist. As we’ve mentioned before, one of the things that makes our studio unique is that we are entrepreneurs by trade. We’ve actually been there in the trenches building a business from 0 to 1. This project was special because our first breakout success as entrepreneurs was in the sneakerhead industry. We built a strong brand in the space by creating viral content and designing one-of-a-kind products just for that audience. So this project felt like a coming home that allowed us to pull from our past experiences to tackle a new challenge. We had a lot of fun along the way too.
If you’d like to learn more about Knac or discuss potential projects, feel free to shoot me a ping.
Till next time — own your power, give back, and leave no stone unturned.
Black Lotus Out.