Kickstarting the Neos brand

With more tools being deployed and more communication channels being established, starting to create a Neos brand becomes more pressing. @rasmusskjoldan wrote in Slack recently:

Hey all. Really sorry that I can’t keep up at the moment. I’m still 100% swamped in client work these weeks. I won’t have too much time before my summer vacation that starts on 26th of June and knocks me out for 3 weeks :simple_smile: If some of you guys feel for moving on with identity and logo, you should just do that. It doesn’t need to wait for me at all. What generally works well for me is to establish a brand platform before going into actual visual design (typically through quite a lof of analysis, archetypal branding or other systematic ways of building brand platforms). But that’s just my way of working with such. Other approaches can be just as good and history is full of examples of great logos that just mysteriously happened.

So please don’t wait for me about anything if others have ideas about how to move on :smile:

Changing the logo according to code changes sounds like an absolutely wonderful idea to me btw, @bwaidelich

I think that Rasmus is right with that we shouldn’t spend more time waiting, on the other hand I’m reluctant to just start creating some visual designs without spending some more thoughts on our identity. @daniel led a round during our meeting in Munich where we started collecting some ingredients for a brand platform. We really need to tackle this task now and continue where we left off.

@daniel, would you be up for leading this process? We need some guidance there, also when it comes to finding a viable quick path towards having a CD soon.

Right, I think it won’t do harm to collect some initial ideas and drafts for a logo though.
I’m no designer by any means, but some “identity cornerstones” from the Munic meeting and how I could imagine them being incorporated in a new logo (really roughly):

  • Not fully-fledged, more modular. Diverse, international, vivid community -> not a “monolithic blob” kind of graphic, but some kind of a “loose structure”
  • Content-driven, COPE -> some big thing™ in the center that is connected to smaller things surrounding it (representing the content and its sources/representations)
  • Innovative. Ready for change -> I like the idea of a changing logo (always keeping its unique identity of course). E.g. activity and time could influence nuances - that would be innovative and represent the ever changing nature of our field

Hey, I’m currently not involved in the process and no designer :slight_smile: Anyways, I think the brand needs a new identity fast (that could be relaunched later) and just did some dirty drafts from the outside using the following details:

  • “share” as font (Look ma, no discussion about fonts and licenses)
  • “neos” instead of “Neos” or “NEOS” (the austrian
    political party)
  • some familiar looking icon that looks like a open hobbit door, too :wink: (a.k.a. “the böppel next generation”)
  • a specific good sounding claim (Isn’t neos future all about this COPE-stuff?)

@robert @bwaidelich If you guys give me enough feedback (especially what’s missing or you don’t like) I could organize some professional CI suggestions from our designer according to your requirements.

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To be honest personally I’m strictly against “just creating something which might change in some months again just to have something new as fast as possible”.
I think it makes sense to start collecting ideas and stuff like that but rushing a new identity seems to be wrong from my point of view.
I think it is something different for a well-known product which switches it’s identity after some years due to a re-branding but what we would do is to switch from the former TYPO3 formed brand to something rushed new and then again a short while after to something else which might be final for a while. I could imagine that this hurts more then it helps.
I think first of all it makes sense to collect everything we already have like colors, font, etc. - build the brand platform Rasmus and Robert mentioned. Everyone interested in finding ideas, sketches or whatever can use this basis so that we at least have some common ground all the next steps are based on.

Disregard the color, I just chose something. This simple shape takes inspiration from the greek letter starting neos. Maybe an idea?

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As I wrote earlier, I agree that we need to get this settled rather sooner than later, but in my opinion it’s not helping us if we already discuss concrete designs or colours right now. It makes sense to at least sum up the findings from our meeting in Munich.

@rasmusskjoldan despite your lack of time, could you quickly throw in your thoughts about the archetype we could use for Neos and other raw thoughts regarding the story etc? @daniel can you try to give us a little summary from the Munich discussion?

Indeed, I can try :smile:

The system I’ve used for many different types of organizations is called archetypal branding. It’s all about establishing a brand platform that establishes and communicates the meaning behind the organization. In other words, it’s not about doing a visual identity, a design program or any other kind of strict guideline system but instead figuring out the basics of the brand we would like to become in the minds of everyone (both internally and externally).

In short, the system claims that by figuring out what archetypal personality best suits the organization, you will have an easier time producing communication afterwards because you can put the brand on a storytelling track that is already well-known and can easily be recognised + you can use it to differentiate the brand by taking on an archetype that’s uncommon in your market category.

Seen from the outside, the brand can become more stable through a brand platform (regardless of whether you use archetypal branding or another systematic approach) - because the underlying messages always come from the same basic world-view. You can change storylines, you can change products, market strategy etc. etc. but the brand platform must be stable for the brand to be more easily relatable to the outside—in a world saturated with communication and brands shouting at you. There’s a lot more to it but the simple idea is that underlying meaning is more important than specific visual guidelines. They can come later—but they can’t be created without a strong base. Otherwise, visuals will be created out of random trends or what any given designer feels like on any given day and so on.

My simple idea for Neos was to position it as a so-called Creator brand. That’s a brand type that obviously values creativity and instills creativity in the minds of the customer. Aka. play with Neos, build your own stuff with Neos—or “Neos is like LEGO” as we presented it around the 1.0 release.

Hope that makes sense. If we don’t start there—with the base brand—then any visual design will be random. It might work but the risk of producing something that looks good here and now but will fade quickly is really high.

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Going back to the meaning of the Neos word is definitely worth exploring.

I’m quite naturally also all for picking a font that won’t give us license issues. Two other possibilities at DK brand agency, Kontrapunkt for example: http://www.kontrapunkt.com/type

I personally wouldn’t use Share. That was really created for TYPO3 and I think the TYPO3 identity is best off by being completely different than Neos’s new identity.

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First of all, thanks a lot @brgmn, @kitsunet and Markus (via Slack) for investing the time!!

I agree that we shouldn’t rush this and elaborate on our identity asap, but I don’t see how some initial concrete logo ideas/discussions should distract us from that. And sometimes you only realize later that a logo represents the identity more than the designer had intended (take the Apple logo for example that people connect to Turings suicide)…

I second Rasmus’ opinion to go for a completely different identity…
Re the Kontrapunkt font: I find it hard to read (in running text), but just the word “neos” looks nice IMO and I like the typewriter reference

+1 for the kontrapunkt font (but maybe with some letter finetuning) @rasmusskjoldan thanks for the hint! Could look like this:


@kitsunet Don’t know if I understood your idea with the greek letter right…

I’m no designer but one thing: Please let us keep the names like “Neos” and “Flow”.
It was always difficult enough to get people and magazines etc. to write TYPO3 properly and as we already have a name which is used and won’t change I would vote for keeping they way it is written and not change it to lowercase, uppercase or whatever.

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@brgmn totally, thanks for putting in context with the name :slight_smile:

Ok for me. But I think we should try to keep the brand name as compact as possible like in the following drafts.

I’m just so happy @rasmusskjoldan is on board with us! Thanks a lot for taking the type to explain your strategy, so awesome to read.

Our designer saw “new” Neos logo the other day and said it is great :wink:
Seriously, no need to rush it. Let’s take our time and invest into something that would reflect us, our team, our way of thinking, our values not the least.

And some link with the right attitude to logos: https://ia.net/know-how/logo-bullshit-co-inc

If Neos wants to be a lego-like “Creator brand” (ok for me) it should push this attitude by just starting the brand here with a minimal approach - e.g. just setup the brand as a clean text-logo. No color scheme, no icons, no rules - defining just the “bricks” to be recognizable and build something on top of it afterwards. The Neos brand - with all its values and the stuff you want to put on a paper - still exists by your attitudes and daily contributions as a Neos core/community member - I don’t see any significant value differences or how the values could change the basic text logo afterwards.

no need to rush it

As an internal you do not need a logo - that’s true. For the public (users/customers, developers, fundraising, partnerships) Neos - as brand - is not born yet. From the outside the brand is dead. Neos and Flow as products loose more and more power every day after the divorce from TYPO3 without a recognizable identity. The new Neos doesn’t even have a website explaining the product. It’s time to be pragmatic :slight_smile: The old one e.g. should just be reused for neos.io with the ne logo (until the relaunch of the new page has been finished).

The handson approach:

  • Agree on basic values and the creator archetype
  • Get an agreement on a basic text logo (keep it stupid simple)
  • Use it everywhere (neos login, neos website, discuss.neos.io)
  • Do the big brand process, add all the details on top of it (you already have your basic identity, it won’t hurt the logo)
  • Enjoy the benefits (brand recognition, visibility, growing community,…)
  • Finetune the basic text logo afterwards (if needed, like many international major brands do it).

I know you all like outstanding quality and rocket science and that’s why I like to use and contribute to Neos and Flow. But I don’t think this is needed here. It’s more like being able to prioritize boring things like users view, customer needs and market value before quality. Just skip the time consuming remaining 20% of perfection. Scale later :slight_smile:

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Hey Martin,

full ack to your words :slight_smile: Thanks a lot for pushing this forward!

All the best,
Sebastian

I agree with @brgmn on most accounts. I might even do without any logo/typeface whatsoever and leave things as is (minus the TYPO3 logo) until after 2.0 has proven itself. As I wrote on the slack channel already, Neos has a history of window dressing, while leaving stability and quality of the product itself to desire. I think the project needs to win back trust by releasing a more stable and reliable product first. I would even go as far as to say that it needs to earn the right to introduce a new visual identity by first delivering the goodies. That, I think, makes for a good brand communication strategy: better software and documentation first. Simple, beautiful design elements later. I would recommend to abstain from risking any hint of an “emperor’s new clothes” effect through tinkering with a logo and website layout etc. before releasing a version that qualifies as the first real stable one.

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… however, it’s not that Neos and Flow didn’t exist before 2.0. During the Munich meeting we also found out and agreed upon that we tend to only look at what’s in the future and forget about communicating and celebrating the product which is already available.

I think that @brgmn is right when he writes:

For the public (users/customers, developers, fundraising, partnerships) Neos - as brand - is not born yet. From the outside the brand is dead. Neos and Flow as products loose more and more power every day after the divorce from TYPO3 without a recognizable identity.

That’s a critical part. The Neos team, and some people on Slack, know that there is a lot of activity around Neos 2.0 and the new infrastructure, but to the outside we just lost our identity and didn’t get any new one.

I think we must come up with the foundation of a new identity along with the 2.0 release. Since we can’t design a full CD yet, we need to start with something minimal but something we can build upon. For example, if we agree on continuing to use the color palette we have in Neos, we could pick a color and use it as a blank canvas. Our avatar / logo would simply be that color. When we are ready to agree on a font face, we’ll have the letter N or even the whole word as our logo. Until we are ready to design a logo.

For me key is that 1) we start with something which we can stick with (minimum viable design) and 2) use it consistently everywhere. That alone should be enough to give people a feeling of identity.

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That part you are quoting from @brgmn is the one I don’t agree or disagree with, simply because we have zero data and certainly live in a filter bubble. As for the rest, I feel uneasy with the fact that so many devs spend time here and in the other thread on slack with this matter. I would feel better if you all had no time for this. That said, I can see your point about the basic CD, but in my experience that tends to eat a lot of time and getting something basic right isn’t much easier than something more complete. I personally don’t want to support that effort now, because I fear it will drain other, more important topics. I am totally up for it later, when the product is ripe.

I don’t remember the meeting in Munich to be as much about celebrating what’s here and I think it would be very dangerous to do that right now. I would rather think we agreed on stopping to be defensive about the state of the product and rather focus about advancing, improving and completing it, within the scope of 2.0. So far, I can’t tell if there is a good chance to make 2.0 the real 1.0 within the next few weeks and the upcoming sprint. Only a timely and convincing release will tell.