In a post coming soon I’m going to talk about how Cloud.net actually works behind the scenes, and how we’re using the OnApp federation to deliver huge scale and reach for your VMs, through one control panel… but first, I wanted to take a short break from the detail to look at one of the other aspects of launching a start-up – the brand and the logo.
A tough nut to crack
When I talk with people who’ve never been part of a start-up, it’s amazing how many of them think that branding is one of the easier tasks. Far from it! The brand can be one of the toughest nuts to crack on the road to launch. Because, to be blunt, it’s hard to be original – especially in cloud, and especially with the logo.
When you’re building a brand and creating a logo, you’re trying to create something that has never been done before, while at the same time making it easily recognizable, and if possible, relate to the product you are selling. Of course some very successful companies have been able to create brands that had no obvious link to the product – Google and eBay spring to mind – but with a name like Cloud.net, it would be hard to justify having, say…
We toyed with the idea of using something other than a cloud itself, but every attempt led to something we were not happy with. In the end the decision was made to just go with a cloud as the logo, but try and make something different… because every single cloud logo out there is a close imitation of Apple’s own iCloud logo:
So how did we try not to fall into the same trap? We hired the person who made the iCloud logo! So I’d like to share with you the phases we went through to design the new logo for Cloud.net.
Phase 1: It’s not just about clouds
We noticed that almost every cloud logo is blue or white. Of course, clouds are white, the sky is blue – well, except here in the UK – so that’s just obvious, right? Well… no. That’s not actually true.
We started by looking at this photo by Dan Marker-Moore, a collage of a time lapse of 60 photos of a sunrise over L.A. It served as inspiration for how the sky can create a beautiful array of colours… not just blue.
We also looked at the “Sky” series by Eric Cahan, a gorgeous visual series that shows how beautiful sunrise and sunset can be, in a minimalistic photo style that seems to focus on the range of colour displayed at those times:
Inspired by those photos, we decided to create a color palette for our logo that would use some of the real colour range we see in the sky – the idea being that when you look at the logo you can get a sensation of looking to the sky at any time, be it sunrise, sunset, dawn, dusk or even noon. Here is the final palette we fixed on:
Once we settled on the colors, it was time to create the shape!
Phase 2: Taking shape
We decided to use the famous golden ratio to create a harmonic, fluid shape. It allowed us to create a more visually pleasing logo, and since this ratio can be found everywhere in nature, it makes sense to apply it to a cloud.
The golden ratio is a universally pleasing virtual proportion, a width and height ratio of 1.618:
The golden ratio is used by artists and architects to create harmonic paintings and appealing buildings…
and nowadays, even Twitter too:
(If they’d had patents back then, someone would have made a killing patenting the golden ratio). But back on track: we then started to define the shape, and as every good designer knows, you go through many versions before reaching the final one. Here are some versions of the logo we discarded…
There is still debate internally over them, as some people preferred some of the early mock-ups, but that’s design for you: everybody has different tastes, and you often end up with a compromise on the version most people agree on. Many times you return to the first draft ever: other times it’s the last. For us it was the last! In the end we decided on the following shape and design:
“Still looks like the iCloud logo!” you might say, but peel away the golden ratio layers, and this is what you get:
And after refining it with its final shape, we are left with our own version of a cloud – one with a distinct shape and the entire colour range of the sky. We could not be more proud:
Phase 3: Typography
A unique logo is no good if the font alongside it is obviously the same font grandma uses to create her e-postcards.
The typography for cloud.net was created not only to complement the cloud shape, but also to stand alone if need be. Designed from scratch using a geometric grid, the typeface is unique to cloud.net:
Phase 4: Bringing it all together
The last step of a logo is to see how good it will look in a wide variety of media, anywhere from the website to stationery. What about against different backgrounds? With different colours being used? People will use the logo for a wide range of applications, and not all of them will fit with the original design scope. So began our testing:
And the mandatory stationery testing too – it has to look good on the business card:
We were happy! We had a logo that suited our vision, it was fresh, it worked in a variety of applications and it was original as one can hope.
We hope you enjoyed this little aside into another aspect of creating Cloud.net. We still have tons to do and are hard at work on the federation that will bring you choice, scale and reach that was simply not possible before… more on this next time. In the meantime, please do sign up to our Beta newsletter and enjoy the many colours of the sky on our logo!