Every great design begins with an even better story - Lorinda Mamo, Designer
Helping our community through their struggles in life is ultimately what Peerzee is for. We connect people together to get support on what they're going through, with others that have been there. Peerzee is the place that you can come to, to feel safe, supported and never alone. A community that truly listens, understands and encourages you through your journey in life.
To help our community feel this way we needed to be really intentional about the design. Design is what makes an experience, it is the personality of the brand and when I thought about the type of person I wanted Peerze to be I thought about my most supportive friend. Friendly, kind, humble, caring, encouraging and uplifting. This was a lot to get across and I needed an expert designer that really understood the story behind the brand to represent Peerzee this way.
The expert who I was fortunate to work with was Joe Scerri. Joe is a graphic designer in both print, digital and sound design and you can check out his great work here
The original concept for the design was trees
Trees are fascinating in that they help each other survive which really spoke to the helping each other aspect of the brand. However, as Joe says "it was too abstract as we are not selling plants or getaways to the country, so it might seem confusing and a little too yoga re-treat...It needed to be about people that are looking for someone to talk to." So we went back to the drawing board and we decided to use illustrations over photos or images of people.
Illustrations over stock images of people
As Peerzee is an anonymous profile-driven app to use pictures of people was too straight to the point and would include too many stereotypes. Peerzee is open to all people and all cultures and it is hard with photos to represent this. Also "we wanted to avoid using models or photos that appear to not hav
e any problems where everyone is happy and smiling as it would be too imposing for others to show the real side of themselves". We needed to create our own expression and character illustration was a great way to do this.
Joe created original ideas for the characters rather than reuse images that have been used elsewhere. "It made them really relevant, fresh and original to the idea of Peerzee." "Being character driven it was important to illustrate them as fun-loving characters that everyone can relate to. They represent all genders and cultures to really demonstrate the inclusivity of the brand." "The characters have been placed throughout the site, pointing out keywords and surrounding the titles of each page. They guide you through the site, hang about and help you feel welcome. Every one of them is engaged as a society, helping each other out." To bring out the personality of the characters a good colour palette was necessary.
Using colour to express
Colour is used to evoke emotion and express the personality of the brand and we wanted it to be uplifting and grounding. "When you are dealing with difficult life experiences like loss, loneliness, identity change, workplace issues, health issues etc. you want to be in a space where things are not jumping out at you or are too heavy." The 3 main colours chosen for the brand are leaf green, terracotta and light grey.
Leaf Green can evoke feelings of renewal, growth, harmony and groundedness. Terracotta radiates warmth and happiness and offers emotional strength in difficult times. Light Grey is a good neutral colour and brings together the other colours To go along with the uplifting, open, supportive nature of Peerzee we needed to find a font that matched.
Typography that spoke to you
Joe chose Sans Serif as the main font. "Sans serif is modern, it's breezy, it gives a sensation of looking into tomorrow rather than looking into the past with old traditional type". "A modern type feels like there is more open discussion, It's bold and it's brave." The main elements of design are its imagery, colour and typography and in addition to the characters, we included waves of connections to divide the content.
Waves to me mean change and the constant flow of life. Up and down in nature, full of energy to uplift or bring us down. They are a meaningful metaphor for the emotional journey that is our life. The connecting lines throughout the waves speak to the connecting nature of the app. Connection with ourselves and each other is how we get through. The last element of the design was the brandmark which is the foundation of the brand identity and it needed to stand out and be memorable.
The two sets of ee's in the name Peerzee provided a good base to demonstrate peer support in the logo. The ee's are about two people working together, engaging, conversing and communicating. A hand to the e's, created an arm reaching out, offering a handshake, it has a sense of positivity, looking after your friend feel to it. It was the right decision to redo the look and feel of the brand especially the website as it is the main opening of the brand which was important to get it right. With Joe's help, I think we have and as Joe say's "I think we nailed it!"