Hodlnaut has been a moderately popular name within the sphere of centralized finance. The name caught my attention earlier this year and in my illustrative imagination I envisioned an alien mascot - something akin to the minimalist 'bugdroid' used by Android. I was honestly disappointed when I saw Hodlnaut's official logo, and more so when I realized that they weren't making full use of their brand's potential, but this doesn't mean it's a bad design. So make preparations to voyage across the cryptoverse, where we'll brave the siren's song of buzzwords and dive deep into the lair of the Hodlnaut.
Hodlnaut's choice of blue is a safe bet. I've said it many times, and I will keep saying it: blue is a color of consumer trust. Generally speaking, it is a color of tranquility and peace because we associate it with soothing water and clear skies. Any company or organization that makes blue a part of their identity is intentionally leveraging that feeling of tranquility to keep our thoughts serene. By removing anxiety and pressure from decision making, the party awaiting our decision appears trustworthy and responsible.
As more white is mixed with blue it becomes light and cloud-like. The lighter the blue the lighter the atmosphere, giving Hodlnaut's blue a lofty intelligence.
Hodlnaut's color choice is the 'vanguard', the front line of their attempt to appeal to the people.
Hodlnaut's capital letters carry a lot of weight indicating a desire to make their brand presence known. Where other brands make use of block-y, monolithic letter forms to cement their foundation in the industry, Hodlnaut's script typeface suggests their foundation is built upon a community of people. The round forms of handwritten scripts are friendly and welcoming, and although this font is far from handwritten cursive it still possesses a subtle brush-like quality – most notably in the “N”, where the stroke imitates an imperfect application of pressure. A script font adds a human element to the brand, thus becoming relatable and trustworthy. It is appropriate for Hodlnaut's appeal to the average person.
Observe the faint italicization of Hodlnaut's letters . The wordmark is absent of the aggressive speed typically seen with italics, but the brand isn't standing still either. This reveals Hodlnaut's intent to carefully and methodically advance the crypto agenda, as well as giving the brand an aura of patience.
I'm inclined to perceive this typeface as an imitation of those used in vintage futurism advertisements. Again, the implication is slight but if the decision is intentional then Hodlnaut wants their consumer base to believe that a “better tomorrow” can be had today.
The web design is unabashedly simple – a good sign considering Hodlnaut is appealing to the people. There is a new purple color that appears on the website, which I didn't discuss prior because it seems that Hodlnaut isn't entirely sure how to make use of this purple. Currently, it is being used as an exciting gradient for some isometric illustrations. I also noticed it being used as a hover state for page links but it isn't consistent, as some links utilize blue when moused over. From a logical perspective the CSS is meant to create uniformity across the website – every link everywhere should become purple on mouse over. Except, for a reason known only to the web designer, a separate style is used for the navigation links. Purposeful perhaps, but I believe it should be corrected.
The Hodlnaut app introduces a “Swap Assets” button colored in magenta, a color that is only reused for a checkbox at log in. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this. These are the only objects using this color making them unique and, like a siren's song, they hypnotically beckon to be clicked. But magenta is off brand and the lack of integration elsewhere in the design is annoying, if not confusing.
Unfortunately I can't experience the iPhone app, but accessing the web app from a mobile device is problem-free. Due to the simplicity of the interface both the website and web app suffer no complications when responding to mobile devices.
All said, the design could use some refinement. As far as reinforcing Hodlnaut as a brand of the people the experience is successful.
The Hodlnaut 'H' is by far the most striking feature of the brand. It's larger than the wordmark, italicized at a steep angle, set far apart from the “O”, and the rocket launch lends it an animated quality – a combination which insists upon being seen. I find it peculiar that, with all of this focus directed toward this emblem, we only ever see it as a favicon; all other uses of the logo exhibit the full emblem and wordmark in a horizontal lock-up. The 'H' emblem has been primed for a solo debut, but it's being forced to work with an untalented wordmark.
I like the little retro-futuristic rocket. This is a wonderful call-back to the futurism of the 50's atomic age and 60's space age and it fits well with the typeface. But there is a discernible lack of similar retro-futurism or 'atompunk' elements within the rest of the brand identity making it feel generic, especially when considering the myriad of networks that make use of these dime-a-dozen clip-art rocket ships. To drive this point further, notice how the rocket becomes unrecognizable when reduced to the size of a favicon. As for myself this confirms the inadequacy of the rocket; it's not a brand necessity.
In my personal opinion, the Hodlnaut brand missed an opportunity to incorporate a mascot. The combination of the acronym HODL and the Greek suffix '-naut' - translated as “sailor” or “voyager” - calls to mind an individual: Argonaut, cosmonaut, Juggernaut, chesnaut, etc. A mascot would greatly strengthen the brand's connection to the people by providing a personality for the community to rally behind.
From what I've observed thus far, I am of the opinion that Hodlnaut is making serious, if amateurish, attempts at developing trust with their consumers, and I'll admit my inclination to trust the brand. With this fintech startup being only two years old, give or take, and with the uncertainty of regulatory measures looming, it's understandable if Hodlnaut doesn't desire to invest a hefty sum in re-branding just yet, but the re-brand will be necessary. If and when it takes place, it will be a signal of Hodlnaut's permanency.
Although design alone cannot ascertain trustworthiness, it undoubtedly has an impact on how we interact with any brand. As always, exercise due diligence, do your own research, and maintain awareness of the influence that your favorite crypto brands have on you. That intuition could save you from a FOMO-based decision! This is the way.