Over the last few years we have seen some interesting logo redesign discussions on the inter web. Big brands like Starbucks, GAP and Pepsi have all gone through redesign efforts leading to a deluge of emotions from customers, employees and partners.

History of Gap, Starbucks and Pepsi logos

Now, Compile is not (yet!) a big brand in the same league, but there was a lot of discussion and debate when we redesigned our logo, earlier this year. This is a post on the lessons learned from that experience.

Logo go

Timeline of Compile logo redesigns
Timeline of Compile Logo redesign

We are a design-oriented bunch here and for the last two years, we have been tweaking our logo every few months. But when we went through a branding overhaul, we decided that we needed a good logo – a minimal one which reflected what we stood for as a company.

First, we turned to our design house for the effort. They put on their thinking caps and gave us some good options to go with. But we still weren’t happy. Yes, we are a bunch of design snobs, and we wanted something simple yet extraordinary. How hard is that?

Getting more creative brains

We decided that we had to involve some more creative brains at this stage. Even though we had heard conflicting experiences about crowd sourcing designs, we decided to give it a try. The process proved to be quick and effective for us. We wanted something simple which communicated our company mission which is “To gather and present actionable insights to businesses and individuals.”

99designs compile logo

We launched a logo re-design contest on 99designs and based on past data we were told to expect around 60 responses. But to our surprise, we received around 750+ designs from over 200 designers around the world. I and another colleague spent a few enjoyable hours everyday, combing through the designs and responding to the designers. In the end we selected 8 designers for the final round.

Everyone knows best

This was where things got tricky. Design is a highly subjective topic and everyone has an opinion on it. Even those who were normally shy or reserved had a take on the logo!

We created an online poll so we could pick the winner democratically. Sure enough, we had a clear favorite, but when it was time to decide, many key stakeholders didn’t want to go with the winner.

Once the democratic process failed us, we decided to go with the next best option. A more selective, design conscious group was assembled. They chose a logo which adhered to our minimalist roots while representing our vision of aggregating complex and hard to analyse data into a simple, easily consumable form. Later we did a bit of kerning and colour adjustments to make it perfect.

Kerning xkcd #1015
Source: xkcd

Looking back, a big learning for me was the realization that even a seemingly small activity like a logo redesign can ignite a lot of passion among everyone, designers and developers alike. This exercise has made me conclude that all design decisions like research, testing and feedback should be done in a small group to make them truly effective.

In fact, the smaller the group the better the design and design process.