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New logo, same goal.

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When I joined DoubleDutch back in 2013, I hadn’t paid close attention to our logo, aside from the fact that it was kind of edgy and that felt cool to me. I had joined as a product designer, focused on solving problems for people using our software. After a two year stint away, I came back to DoubleDutch to help as the Director of Design. Part of this new role encompassed something I had never really done before, brand design. This scared me because I had never really flexed that design muscle before and even with my Harrison Ford type confidence, I was not sure I could do a good job.

In fact, this is less a story about a new logo and more a story about doing something you don’t normally do in order to learn how to better collaborate with others.

DoubleDutch has always been a company that has a certain force of nature surrounding it. Not that we were the best at everything or that we didn’t make mistakes, but our commitment to each other and our belief that customers are a blessing has helped propel us to one of the top platforms for gathering communities, becoming essential to companies across the world wanting to connect face-to-face with their communities and drive business outcomes.

With that mission in mind, our brand has not kept pace with our customer innovation.

TLDR: DoubleDutch has a new logo and brand. In part, this came about because our current one did not represent where we are now or where we are going as a company.

Where we stand.

Companies throw events to gather their employees to connect or meet their customers face-to-face. They want to give them a place to come in contact and build relationships, centered around their brand and vision.

The words people use when asked why they go to events are varied, but they generally boil down to two:

  • Learning
  • Networking

Those two things are the most useful when people are face-to-face.

DoubleDutch exists to explore how technology can make the face-to-face experience better.

Our old logo has been around for as long as I’ve known the company…I think since 2012-ish. It has an interesting cut to it that not very many SaaS companies shoot for. The logo is bold– a little irreverent and just a tad edgy. There really is no mark to speak of other than the text; “DoubleDutch.

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The conjoined word, given distinction with a paraxial “e”, allows the reader to note that it’s not just one word, but a creative pairing.

The font chosen has a feeling that you could use it to defend yourself. We call it “Sword-sy,” and for a time we needed that swagger. A statement about how we viewed the world, the font stood as brash letterforms hinting at our fast and nimble approach to creating software and building a company. We were barely touching the ground, but we were moving fast.

Then around 2013 a very talented visual designer, Amanda Buzzard, created the now iconic “DoubleDutch Sweatshirt.” This blocky expression of our company’s outlook has made our customers some of the most esteemed in their office.

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This logo on the hoodie had become us. And for a lot of years, we had two different logos: the "sword-sy" one and the "hoodie" one.

With this history in mind, my logo and brand explorations veered away from the "sword-sy" in an attempt to distill the hoodie into a more useable and consistent brand.

Where to begin

I started working with our Director of Marketing, Taylor McLoughlin, and to ask people what words come to mind when you think about our company.

We got a lot of words, but these three stood kept coming up: "Bold, Innovative, Trustworthy."

So that is where we started. What could we do to refine the hoodie logo so that it embodied these words?

*Authors Note: I realize that you will most likely just riffle through these explorations and some of them will look like I have no idea what I am doing. You'd be right. There are hundreds of routes in the process of creating a logo.

Some are operatic in their scope and others seem like you just pulled into Burger King and spent 99¢. But this is my process, and I feel like showing it all the way through will be helpful even if it's just for me to remember.

One Step at a Time

I knew I wanted to stay with the sans-serif nature of the “hoodie” logo. I just went to the trusty Helvetica and wrote our name out in all the weights. We weren't going to use Helvetica, but it is a nice foundation.

Artboard

I then went through a ton of san-serif fonts and wound up on a font named Avenir-Next.

Artboard_Copy

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This font felt like us. It's blocky nature felt sturdy, but also it was not a “perfect” font. The counter was off-center and felt a little playful. Like the Aunt who is the managing partner at her law firm and when you'd visit her at the office she would take you to lunch and on the way back let you press all the buttons in the elevator.

True Colors

I am not an expert on color, nor do I believe color is the one true binding force in the universe. I just tried to pick some that looked nice and worked well together.

Picking colors for your brand can be really easy. Getting everyone to agree on them can be really frustrating. Just do your best.

Here is where we ended up.

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The Early Gyrations

Playing with pixels on a screen can be quite freeing, as nothing is permanent and the cost for messing up is microscopic. So I did what any experienced designer does...start making and moving shapes around until it feels right.

A shape that started to materialize was that a lowercase "d" looked kind of like a person raising their hand. The "Asking a Question" learning or the "Hi, great to see you here too" networking.

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I was playing with the concept of the first initial of each word "DD," exploring interesting ways they could interact with each other.

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I liked how the shapes were saying multiple things at once. I would keep this as a guiding thought throughout the process.

Helping Hands

Around this time I was lent a book by Burno Munari called Design as Art from Kasper Jeppessen (CTO of DoubleDutch). It got me thinking about the shapes in design and how you use them dictates what they say.

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Random shapes slowing morphing into other things.

I became very interested in subtly showing the 2 lowercase "d's" from the Avenir Next Font inside a container. I called them "d-slashes."

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The “d-slashes” needed to be seen in various forms and layouts to see if they would be a good fit.

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I constantly gathered the team around these explorations, letting them know where I had come from and showing them where I think we should go. Their feedback was immensely valuable. They cautioned about being obtuse, not trying to be too fancy. To get out of the way.

It felt like I was starting to understand that feedback can function like Bumper rails at a bowling alley, keeping the work from going into the gutter by letting it bounce back and forth until it hits the pins.

The First Version "D-slashes"

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I had worked and worked, narrowing down to what I thought was a great logo and mark. There were tons of iterations and coordinating meetings with different stakeholders. It was exhausting. And it was here that I think I could have made the case due to time and resources that, "This is it, this is the one. We will land on the moon and this will be our banner."

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I had a ton of reasons why the “d-slashes” were the best; why these versions would be what we hang our hat on. It was here that I think I was just too close to the problem and was just making excuses because I didn't feel like I had anything left to give.

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Maybe you've been in this place too, aware that you may have jumped into something that was out of your weight class and you are just now seeing that you may not be good enough to finish.

If you haven't been in this place, I encourage you to go there. It will not be fun, what with the mirror of your work staring back at you, feeding the self-doubt. But if you do choose to go to this place and not run away, it can be a rite of passage. For me, the mere fact of getting there was the solution to the problem.

I was lucky that the team I was surrounded by is very good at parsing bullshit and caring enough to help me try again.

Take a Break

At this time I took about a month off from even touching or talking about the logo/mark. I had the benefit of needing to work on our Event App and it was a helpful distraction.

Around the time we finished designs on some of that product work, I started messing around with the mark shapes again. I began by deconstructing the logo font and seeing what I could make from its parts.

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From here the "d-slashes" get ditched for a "D" which started to feel like something we could work with.

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I took this to the team and we began to see something really interesting with the two capital "D's" on top of one another. It kind of looked like there was a jump rope between the “D’s,“ which gave it a fun, fluid look. Still Bold. Still Innovative. But More Human.

This led to seeing what color looked like on it.

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And blending those two "D's" with color gave us this mark at the bottom. Two "D's" overlapping, and in the middle a merging of the 2 shades of blue, the formed a playful shape that looked like a jump rope going round and round. It felt right, like this is the place we needed to get to and the "Mark" that describes us.

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Stress Test

I tried several explorations with this mark, trying to see where it's weak points were or if more refinement needed. I used all our brand colors to see how well they played with one another.

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The Final

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Forward until we change

This is DoubleDutch. Our goal is still the same: to drive more productive and interesting conversations and connections between people at live events in an effort to build community and get business done.

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Appendix

I think it’s important to stop at this point and just level set on what I mean when I say “Brand”.

If big M “Marketing” is about Values, then Brand is the expression of those values to the world.

This expression takes many forms, some of which are:

  • Tone and Voice (What you say)
  • Copy Constraints (How you say it)
  • Logo (How you want others to view you)
  • Mark (A Landmark to recognize)
  • Colors (A primal connection to feelings)
  • Layout (An ethic of how you represent yourselves)
  • Typography (A Considered Message)
  • ETC
By Josh Lee | 29 May, 2019

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About the Author: Josh Lee

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Director of Design