Logo Design Process: Brand Values, Iterations, and Octavia — a Mascot


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Last month, we changed our logo, and now have a new mascot named Octavia. What you don’t know is that we went through 7 iterations with 20+ models for our logo, and the whole process lasted 5 weeks. On the other hand, our mascot only took one iteration, but still with 20 models! 

We want to share everything with our community, so in this article, we’re going to share all the iterations for the logo and what our thoughts were for each one of them. You will most probably disagree with some, and might even have preferred another logo. We realized during these 5 weeks how subjective the process was, even though we tried to stick to our principles as much as possible. So don’t hesitate to share your opinion in the comments! Our brand is a living creature that will grow with time. Any feedback that can teach us something is worth having.

The values we want to convey in our brand 

We’re building a data integration platform that helps you replicate data from any source to any destination, and that needs to adapt to any data infrastructure. So adaptability is at the center of what we build. 

Being able to connect any source to any destination is our vision, so we need our brand to be about connectivity

Airbyte is also defined by its open-source and community identity. The only way we can cover the long tail of integrations is through our community. That is why our brand needs to be friendly, which led us to think about friendly animals. 

In the end, when you think of these three values – adaptability, connectivity, and friendliness – only one animal stood out: the octopus. Its tentacles could stand for connectivity. Its ability to squeeze through any space and to change colors could represent the adaptability of our brand. And having a friendly octopus mascot could be a way to build friendliness within our brand. 

One last thing was missing, though: in order to become the new standard with which data is being moved across all companies, we needed to show great velocity and immense growth. That’s the idea of movement and velocity that we wanted our brand to be associated with. 

Our 20+ iterations on the icon

Starting with our in-house designs

We started with a few iterations of our own. Let’s look at them.

You’ll understand why we needed some expert help ;). We didn’t number these, as I do not believe they are worth being dwelled upon.

However, working on designs ourselves helped us get a better idea of what we really wanted.

Leveraging expert help

At this point, we started working with Daniel from Kreatank. We loved his previous work with animals. Here is what he came up with, given the context we shared above. 

All these designs were done across 4 iterations, and 2 additional ones to finalize the option we selected. In order to gather our feedback, we created a Google Doc with the whole team, so that everybody could chime in and share their feedback/ideas. 

Focusing first on the icon, and not the font

At first, we started giving feedback on both the icons and the fonts, but we stopped focusing on the font iterations pretty quickly. We decided we would first agree on the icon and then decide on the font for the logo, once we had chosen the icon. 

The reason for that is that the font would depend on the icon, so it’s less efficient for the designer to work on both. We’d rather have more icon designs in the same amount of time, than fewer with fonts that we would want to deliberate upon in any case. 

So we deliberated over the font once we selected the icon (#20):

Going the abstract approach

Eventually, we went with this design, as you know.

Why? Ultimately, we went for a more abstract approach than an immediately recognizable octopus. The reason was that we thought that it was more important for our logo to reflect our values of adaptability, connectivity, and velocity. Friendliness will come from the logo, as well as from the mascot and the overall visual identity. 

Being abstract means that different people see different things in our logo. We heard about a nautilus, a Tipp-ex, a paperclip, and even a long-distance view of a blue super saiyan flying, a comet, a supersonic object, and a flying spaghetti monster! Officially, we see an octopus in movement, but we do agree it also looks like a soaring comet, and we’re ok with that. 

So what do you see? But maybe more importantly, was there any other logo that spoke more to you?

Our one iteration on the mascot

Choosing our mascot was a completely different experience. This time, we worked directly with a very talented designer, Laurel Duermael. She’s the one behind Docker’s amazing illustrations. We knew we wanted to work with her; her designs bring so much friendliness, and this was what we needed. 

So, once the logo was finalized, we shared with her our vision for the brand and the octopus mascot, and also the newly designed abstract logo (most probably less useful, as it was too abstract). 

Here is what she came up with:

You can see that she saw a nautilus in our logo, too!

Number 15 was the obvious choice for us. It was the cutest, friendliest iteration, and it seemed to us it could show lots of different emotions as humans do. You can already see some of them on our Community page, or below. 

Let us know if you think we should have opted for a different one!

Our iterations on the name of the mascot

The last thing we needed was a name for the mascot. Our philosophy here was that it needed to be immediately friendly, possibly with a pun, and easily memorizable. So we started listing a few names that we liked and built a survey for our community to vote. The survey was also a way to gather other name ideas from the community. After that, we cherry-picked three names with high results from the community, and  two of them actually came as suggestions from the community:

  • Bytee or Inky (most popular in the survey).
  • Tako (meaning octopus in Japanese), suggested by the community.
  • Octavia Squidington III (just “Octavia” for short) – the last name Squidington was a suggestion from the community. 

Bytee and Inky were cute, directly correlated to our brand. The logo could look like a Bytee that is flying, hence Airbyte. A bit fun, but that’s all: no humanization. 

Tako might seem more common, but unless we explained to you that it means octopus in Japanese, you wouldn’t get the link.

“Octavia the octopus” has a nice alliterative sound to it. Squidington III could enable us to create a full backstory behind it. We feel it is the one name that you don’t need explanations for, it humanizes our octopus the most, and it can even put a smile on your face when you hear it. 

And that’s why we chose this name. Let us know if you think we should have thought about it differently. 

That’s it! You got the whole history about our logo and mascot. Hope it was an interesting history, and that it can help you if you ever go through this process yourself.

Also published here.

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