Evolution of NextStage: An Icon
When Joseph Carrabis at NextStage Evolution approached me back in '03 to do some design work for his budding company I immediately jumped at the opportunity. This was my first introduction to seriously approach branding a business. Not only is it fun to be a part of a company from the start and see it grow, but to be there to influence and create how the world will see it is a thrill. He's also family and you can't say no to family — So there's that.
If I could dumb down what they do it is this: With only software and code running on the client side of things, they are able to interpret a wealth of information based on the site and the people browsing it. I mean down to the level of knowing if they're a man or woman just based on how the mouse is being used and without any personal information needed.
I explained it to you in the simplest terms possible. When he told me what they did in depth, and all the maths involved, my eyes glaze over. But at the end of it I had an idea in my head of what would make an ideal logo that told what they were about. Reading and knowing the user without being given direct input about them.
On the left is the first idea (that I have on file at least). If you immediately thought this is a play on the opening scene from "2001: A Space Odyssey" then gold star for you! On the right we have the second pass that is still used today. The styling is heavily influenced (or shall I say "inspired") by the Aqua look that was introduced with Apple's OS X because we were all guilty of it.
The "telepathy man" depicts a levitating figure with radiating waves to show that NextStage is a powerful tool that is able to read the consumer without the need to directly interact or obtain information. The white and refreshing blue colors used tell you this technology is non threatening and clean. At the end of the day I wanted this logo, and the company, to publicly show that it's a friendly and forward thinking business and not give off a "big-brother" feel when people put users and data collecting together.
So where can we go from here?
I personally still like the logo even if the effects look a little dated. It was created in Photoshop and, if I wanted, I could recreate and "tighten" up the overall softness in Illustrator. But at the same time, styles are leaning towards a simpler, cleaner look.
Gone is the spiral flourish left over from when two sides of the company combined so we focus on the main message of the logo.
I've taken all the different shades of blue and narrowed it down to just three. The colors are bold and the logo jumps off the page. And while the software at NSE is code based and not contained within a traditional app I have shown the logo within the familiar square shape we associate with icons. This is all still an idea in progress, but a direction I'd like to see it move in.
The biggest challenge will be finding a balance between an updated and cleaner design direction and some elements of skeuomorphism that is so prevalent in the current designs used that I had created. For example, to the left here is an icon created for the podcasts. The design is nice, not too overbearing with effects, and cleverly uses the logo to create the look of a mic. But does't quite fit into the rest of the design direction.