rainfall-built-full-brand-expressions-from-scratch-for-atlis

Rainfall Built Full Brand Expressions From Scratch for Atlis

When Rainfall was first approached by Atlis in the Spring of 2015, that product vision had not yet been created, or in better words, discovered.

The story of their partnership is a journey that includes the creation of a product, a brand, and a new behavior from scratch through constant iteration, testing, and deployment.

Atlis is the next generation of local search, a platform where its community can get real, personalized recommendations for almost any type of business simply by asking.

In essence, Atlis has brought word-of-mouth recommendations to the digital space by rewarding quality interactions from its users with cash, status, and most importantly a trustworthiness score.

Rainfall’s Process

At Rainfall, they call projects like Atlis “full brand expressions” because Rainfall has the ability to affect every visual element and touchpoint, not only defining the rules for how the brand is presented, but literally designing each and every component in the company’s suite whether it’s printed, on the web, or in the product itself.

When developing any large system Rainfall design multiple pieces simultaneously in order to test ideas on a broad scale. Sometimes a particular approach will work well in one situation but not adequately characterize the overall language of the brand. Working holistically allows them to spot those situations and find effective solutions earlier in the creative process.

Creating a full expression involves understanding how the visual language works as part of the narrative fabric without interrupting the audience’s ability to engage.

This is especially true in the digital space, as each platform serves a higher purpose than simply communicating the brand’s visual identity.

Atlis’s interaction model and methods for information hierarchy are themselves components of the identity, so on the web and in the product, those elements are of the highest importance.

Here’s a look at what Rainfall created with Atlis.

The Brand

Atlis Helps Users Make Decisions

At the start of Rainfall’s engagement, Atlis existed as a big idea and a product MVP. The working idea was that they could be the ultimate platform for users to get trusted recommendations for businesses through a network of their peers.

At the time the mechanism for bringing that idea to life was not yet complete, but there was a strong enough narrative structure in place that Rainfall could strategically build a brand, a “favorite” between two options.

The Atlis logo, a heart between two dots, symbolizes the platform’s aim to help its users make informed decisions when given multiple options. It is quite simply the love that one shows for one business over another.

This mark fits with the company’s aim to strike friendly relationships with both consumers and businesses in order to create a platform that is mutually beneficial.

We Are Red…Orange

For the initial release, Rainfall wanted Atlis to fit within its product category while still maintaining a hint of unique flavor. They began exploring variations of red due to its bold energy and iconic associations with passion, desire, and strength.

In the end, Rainfall pulled it ever so slightly into the orange spectrum to make it approachable and unique.

Around the red a family of colors was built ranging from warm to cool that would signify the various expressions of Atlis’s messaging from friendly to more serious. Color combination guidelines also defined how each color could play nicely with the red or each other to allow for ultimate flexibility.

Type

When selecting a typeface Rainfall wanted the choice to be approachable and friendly as well as share Atlis’s core values of democratization and trust. This was at a time when Proxima Nova was making its debut as the web’s new “cousin” to Helvetica.

Designed by Mark Stimonson, Rainfall was drawn to the thicks and thins of the lowercase letterforms that add a bit of humanity to a face often regarded as a geometric sans.

Over time Rainfall found that while the face holds up well for the digital product, it was not suited for other marketing materials, and due to a massive increase in popularity began to feel tired. The switch was later made to Circular by Laurenz Brunner which, while also ubiquitous, gave better typographic sophistication to the brand’s friendly attitude.

The Badges

At this point, Atlis had a visual presence but lacked the personality required to excite its audience and encourage them to engage. As part of a larger strategic exercise in gamification, Rainfall developed a series of badges to reward users for their participation and become the face of the brand.

Rainfall considered all of the individuals that compose the fabric of an urban neighborhood to conceptually link each badge to a stage in one’s knowledge of the businesses nearby. Each badge memorializes the journey of discovery while also putting a face on Atlis.

The Brand Summary

This exercise was unique in that Rainfall approached it as an attempt to let the brand reveal itself as the product and community grew. Their job was to impress a set of values, analyze how those values resonated, and shape the brand according to those results.

With a successful initial rollout, Rainfall has created a platform to welcome users, businesses, and partners to an ecosystem that encourages trust, honesty, and positivity.

The Product

Central to Atlis is its mobile product, the main platform on which community members ask for advice find businesses or respond to others with their own recommendations. As a concept the experience design is simple.

There is a flow to ask for advice, a flow to view and respond to other users’ asks, as well as the necessary user and business profiles.

What started as a simple task of designing each of these flows developed into an approach of constantly iterating to optimize interaction and effectively display large amounts of supporting information.

The Ask Flow

#AskAtlis was a term coined early in the project that embodied the ease by which users would seek information. Rainfall’s job was to deliver on that promise of ease by making the Ask flow as effortless as possible.

In early versions, an Ask was just one step. The user would define what type of business they were looking for, write a brief supporting question, and confirm the preferred location all at once.

While this seemed easiest Rainfall found that breaking that process into three focused steps resulted in a greater number of Asks and better insight into specifically what users were looking for.

The Response Flow

Asking is only half of Atlis’s equation, and Rainfall’s main concern when testing the concept was that no one would respond as those Asks came in. Their approach was to make responding just as easy as asking, but with the added support of contextual information.

When users opt to provide a recommendation Atlis suggests businesses that they have previously recommended or visited aided with additional context clues such as time of day, current location, and how long ago their last visit was.

Enticement

Rainfall knew that making it easy for users to respond wasn’t going to be enough, so they wove gamification into the core of the product experience. Each interaction with Atlis is an opportunity to earn points, increasing one’s standing within the community and represented with the badges developed as part of the identity.

For additional appeal, users are rewarded in cash when someone acts on their recommendation and visits a business.

Trust

With a platform for recommendations involving status and cash Rainfall soon found it necessary to develop a means by which users could evaluate the advice from others. Were users thoughtfully suggesting businesses or were they recommending a place that they figured the asker would visit for other reasons?

Rainfall wanted to create a democratized system in which users held each other accountable for good advice and where trust is earned through positive engagement with the community.

A simple thumbs up and down system encourages users to give their opinion as to whether the advice is relevant to the asker’s intent. Users who give thoughtful advice increase their trust score, those who try to game the system will see it decrease, simple as that.

Positive for Businesses

Atlis is extraordinarily beneficial for its users because they can finally get real recommendations from locals and friends who know their neighborhoods. The value that Atlis is creating is just the first step in ensuring a more positive ecosystem for businesses.

Businesses can make themselves discoverable to new and existing clientele without average ratings and negativity while leveraging satisfied customers to further promote their businesses.

consumer-brand-product-suite-rainfall

Wrap

Rainfall’s close partnership with Atlis resulted in a consumer brand and product suite with wild initial success. It is a demonstration that their approach of honesty and mutual respect with clients leads to work that engages users and encapsulates the brand’s ideals.

Fast Company Writeup

Atlis is worthy of an award because it represents the future of local search. It is a platform where its community can get real, personalized recommendations for almost any type of business simply by asking.

In essence, Atlis has brought word-of-mouth recommendations to the digital space by rewarding quality interactions from its users with cash, status, and most importantly a trustworthiness score.

Atlis was founded in New York City with the insight that review platforms create an inherently negative atmosphere for individuals looking for help finding a business.

Reviewers rarely engage when they have a positive experience, meaning that most reviews focus on the negative interactions of select individuals rather than answering the simple question: “Would you recommend this business or not?”

Currently, Atlis is a mobile application for iOS and Android that facilitates this conversation about businesses. To ask for a recommendation a user simply inputs what type of business they’re looking for, defines a neighborhood or the whole city, and adds a comment if they feel it will help gain better results.

That Ask is then posted to the Atlis community while also targeting users who have recommended relevant businesses in the past.

With over 20,000 users, recommendations begin to roll in almost immediately. Rainfall wanted to recommend to be as simple as asking, so when a user decides to respond Atlis suggests businesses that they previously recommended or visited, aided with additional context clues such as time of day and how long ago their last visit was.

Rainfall knew that making it easy for users to respond wasn’t enough, so Rainfall wove gamification into the core product.

Every interaction is an opportunity to earn points and badges and increases one’s standing within the community. Users are also rewarded in cash when someone acts on their recommendation and visits a business.

With status and cash involved, Rainfall soon found it necessary to develop a way for users to evaluate advice from others. Were users thoughtfully suggesting businesses or were they recommending a place that they figured the asker would visit for other reasons?

Rainfall wanted to create a democratized system in which users held each other accountable for good advice and where trust is earned through positive engagement.

A simple thumbs up or down encourages users to give their opinion as to whether the advice is relevant to the asker’s intent. Users who give thoughtful advice increase their trust score, those who try to game the system will see it decrease, simple as that.

Atlis is extraordinarily beneficial for its users because they can finally get real recommendations from locals and friends who know their neighborhoods. With the addition of more ubiquitous touchpoints and machine learning currently in development, the quality of information will continue to increase.

The value that Atlis is creating is just the first step in ensuring a more positive ecosystem for businesses. Businesses can make themselves discoverable to new clientele without average ratings and negativity while leveraging satisfied customers to promote their businesses.


About Rainfall

Rainfall designs brand experiences, from digital products, interfaces, and websites, to alluring visual identities. They love both coasts and have studios in New York City and Seattle where they build delightful and effective solutions for a wide range of clients.