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How did we design our new logo? Our new designer, Danny King, explains:
From start to finish the whole thing took about two months. I knew I couldn’t make something that was uniquely us without having a firm understanding of what Circle is and how the team works, so I spent the first month or so doing as much work in our tech stack as possible, trying to gain an insight into the the product and the people who make it. Much of that time was spent on research and fighting the urge to simply use a plain circle. There was a recurring theme that I kept noticing; despite its numerous complexities, Circle is a product of ingenious simplicity. My goal with the branding was to create something equally as simple in its complexities.
I knew there were at least a few ideas I wanted to touch on going forward. There’s already a lot of meaning in the name itself, being related to a virtuous circle and the idea of producing continuously, so I knew that symbolism needed to stay intact. Beyond that I liked the idea of focusing on circuits or branches imagery. You’ll see this visual style in a lot of developer tools, like Git for example. It’s a strong visual metaphor that I wanted to draw from. If you look closely you’ll find a similar figure in the negative space of our new logo.
How complex could a circle be? Obviously the mark needed to be more than just one circle. I borrowed a lot of proportions from The Fibonacci Sequence, not just because it made for cool diagrams, but because creating a system helps give me a foundation to work from. Often times I’ll find that when starting from the beginning with a system like that, elements designed later seemingly fall into place. This gives me a sense that things are going in the right direction.
Similar methods were implemented for the construction of the type. I tried many variations here, mostly with typefaces already in existence. Many of them offered some of the elements I was going for, but I kept thinking it would be easier if I just took those different elements from other typefaces and merged them into one unique type. I’ve created custom typography in the past and it’s normally a pain, but the letters in “circleci” aren’t overly complex. The “c” is repeated thrice and builds most of an “e”, while “i” is repeated twice and forms most of an “l”. Only the “r” offered any resistance at all. It needed to follow the same rules as the other, very round letters, but came out looking very awkward at times.
While designing the rest of the branding I never lost sight of the importance of our iconography. I believe those little symbols, used to inform users whether their build is working or not, offer a personal connection to the product. The same rules and guides I used for the construction of the mark itself helped me craft a custom set of icons to use throughout the app. I thought it was important to see a status page for someone’s project and know right away that it’s tested by Circle. The general idea is that the framework for the logomark remains intact, but its core or center is mutated into something that fits its surroundings appropriately. For example if my build is failing, an “x” seems appropriate, but if my build is queued, the arms of a clock might make more sense.
In its final form you’ll most often see our new logo appearing on a deep navy blue, but in reality it looks just as good on a light background. The sign of a great mark is its ability to look great anywhere under any conditions, and at any size. I did my best to meet that standard. I’m always more impressed with brands that were built as a whole, each piece complimenting the next. I spent much of my efforts on this project forming cohesion in both the visual identity and the process in which I craft new visual elements as well, which I think will continue to resonate as more features ship into production.
Danny joins the Circle team from The Windy City, having worked with such clients as The Tribune, Verizon, and Lego. If you want to find out more about him, you can find him on his own website or follow him on Twitter, and if you want to see more of the logo, you can do that here.
Danny has grand visions for how things will look here at Circle. He’s already working on his next projects, and you’ll start to see them roll into production more and more in the coming months.
Welcome to the team, Danny! Thanks for making us look so damned good.