Branding and Identity: The Character of a Product
We remember when fire drills interrupted classes, earthquake drills had us under our tables and tornado drills gave us an opportunity to take a nap, huddled together in the hallway. We don't remember active shooter drills, because no one thought it was an issue. This was before Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook.
Today, active shooter lockdown drills are routine. Teachers and students are advised how to report students' suspicious behavior and rumors, defend themselves in the face of an intruder, and run as far from the building as possible. Standard safety measures for a school include buzzers, locked doors, security entrances and campus security. Still, we hear of active shooter casualties.
Safety in a Technological Age
Like many school districts, Webb City High School in Webb City, Missouri incorporated modern technology into active shooter drills. Directions were simple: Teachers were to text one of four principals with detailed information of their safety and location, their students' safety and location, and any students who were supposed to be in the classroom but were not.
When WCHS conducted a drill with the Webb City Police Department, the results weren't as simple as they expected. Crucial information was disorganized, sent to the wrong people, and outdated by the time someone got the information. Further, there was no way for administrators and police to ask questions and give directions.
After 24 min of chaos, the police department shut down the drill. As many schools have discovered, this method is inefficient and impractical.
Necessity -> Invention -> Opportunity -> Success
Within the next two weeks, Chad Doss, an employee at WCHS in the IT department, developed a prototype system that stored and organized data in one place and kept all players current on the situation. The next drill, they were able to achieve appropriate response level in under 4 minutes. A lot can happen in 20 minutes.
Chad knew his system was groundbreaking, but it was at capacity. He wanted to be able to share this with other school districts, so he approached his friends at Midwestern Interactive.
Immediately, we knew we had to take Chad's project. It works. It's effective. It's fast. It's easy to use by teachers, students, administration and emergency services. We had a good start, so investment was low enough we could make the product affordable. We wanted to make this happen.
Chad's system had been utilized for a year without need for modifications, so we began with a solid grounding. One of the weaknesses of Chad's system was the limitation to texting or email. We adapted our software so it could be accessed through an app on school iPads and personal mobile phones.
In May 2014 we tested the system with Webb City schools. And it worked. Within a year we had implemented the system in five school districts and private schools, launched a pilot at on a college campus, and solidified an agreement with an entire state's education system.
The Lokdown Identity
Midwestern Interactive loves developing branding, using our expertise in design and communication to condense the qualities of a company or product into a concise message. Developing logos is fun, but the excitement lies in coordinating the name, logo, web design and experience. It's the difference between developing a car people need, and designing a car people want.
We first considered the realities of lockdown procedures as well as the perception of school staff, students, their families, and the public. We developed branding that would immediately indicate the product's purpose, but also reflect the pillars of the product: protection, communication and speed.
In essence, the name of our product is a homophone of its purpose. Because people have negative experiences--terrifying news stories, complicated drills or jarring depictions on screen--the term lockdown incites fear and vulnerability. We want to transform the situation as well as the perception that lockdown procedures are uncertain. The moment someone interacts with the Lokdown brand, we want to instill confidence both with our product and with its branding, the.
We brainstormed and developed multiple renderings for the most accurate and recognizable message. Undoubtedly, the image would have reference to a lock, tying the logo to the name. We vacillated between a padlock and a rotary lock, but we wanted to keep it as simple as possible: a logo anyone can quickly sketch is generally more effective.
We experimented with the image of a school building, but the most recognizable image was a little cute and, well, old school. The final cut featured a lock shaped like a shield, an image that projects power and protection and resembles a police badge.
Finally, we wanted to show speed and action. We chose to create a lock that was closing, indicated by an arrow. Even the natural hook shape of the lock contributes to an idea of turning around.
Once the logo was developed, we had a clearer brand. Then we designed a website that would reinforce the brand as well as show follow-through. Some of our choices include:
- Clear images with short copy reflects Lokdown is user friendly.
- The understated color scheme (black, white and a pop or red) suggests Lokdown's innovative technology.
- The initial image is a long, empty high school corridor, resembling the ideal experience during a lockdown.
- A grayscale photo evokes sentimentality and creates balance between high tech and safety for loved ones.
- The front page features a brief and emotion-driven tagline reflecting the sense of urgency.
- Navigation never leaves the front page: you can either scroll down to see all the offerings of the page or click on the parts of the page you want to see first. Just like the website, Lokdown, is simple, organized and all in one place.
Sales and Customer Service
We continue to refine our branding and expand it to our messages on social media and in the press, as well as our presentations with potential and current Lokdown customers. One of the most important aspects of aligning the branding with the qualities of the product itself is how we go about providing sales representation.
While many companies have separate sales teams, we believe it is important that the client speak directly to the people creating and maintaining the product. You can prepare a sales person for potential questions, but their knowledge is limited. Especially when discussing details of the operation of the product and IT interaction, the best person to talk to is the one who can accurately say, "Yes, Lokdown does that," or "Yes, Lokdown can be customized to do that." Our developers are the ones who speak to the client to ensure the best quality of customer service.
Proud of What We Do
We love our product and are excited about where it is being implemented and the lives that will be saved. We saw an opportunity to make something great, and we did it. Without the branding, though, the product is incomplete and far less marketable. Because we made a thousand small, strategic choices, we were able to let the product speak for itself before we meet with the customer.
This is what we do. We provide quality products and services. If you bring your idea to us, we can make it happen. We have the assets, knowledge, wisdom, experience, efficiency and creativity to make big or little ideas a reality. We do this for ourselves, we do this for our client. And we love every...well, almost every minute of it.