A couple of weeks ago we announced our new website and logo. To answer a few questions around how all of this came to be, Nik Karakatsianis, XDEFI Wallet’s Head of Design joined us for a community check-in.
Here’s a summary of the May 14th conversation:
We’re delighted to Welcome Nik Karakatsianis, our Head of Design
Hello — glad to be here, and glad to speak directly with the community, especially after all the great feedback we’ve gotten about the logo and design
So firstly tell us about yourself! — I’ll kick this off with three starter questions:
- Why did you chose to get involved in DeFi?
- What is your favourite type of creative output?
- Who do you think does things right when it comes to design?
Wow, putting me through the ringer straight away 😂 I’ll take these one at a time
1 — Well I’ve been involved in product design for financial institutions in the past…the thing about traditional banks is that they aren’t very forward thinking and very risk-averse. DeFi kind of felt like the logical next step for me, especially since it’s such a new industry so it’s very exciting. As luck would have it, a friend of mine was starting a company and the rest is history!
2 — That’s an interesting question, I don’t think I really have a favourite as such. I really like brand work but obviously digital product is kind of my big thing that I’ve always done so I guess those 2 would be my top 2
3 — I think traditionally I would say someone like Paul Rand, kind of the forefather of modern design, or Stefan Sagmeister who is a really big deal in the branding world. But when it comes to modern companies I guess, I would say people like AirBnB who are really design lead and give design a ‘seat at the table’ — plus their app design is really beautiful
Can you tell us how long it’s taken to get the branding to where it is today?
It’s difficult to quantify that if I’m honest, this has been an ongoing, organic process right from the very beginning of XDEFI as a company. We didn’t do a logo, stop, then do another one… it’s been a gradual evolution of our brand that includes everything from the logo, to the illustrations, the website and the constant iterative process of our product (including some stuff that’s yet to be revealed).
A heavily iterative process sounds like par for the course for a younger company.
Exactly, and we are still a very young company. Things have moved on so quickly that as we added more and more to the brand language to support what we wanted to achieve, we saw that we’d moved further and further away from what we initially thought would represent us as a company.
It’s interesting that we’ve opted for an Octopus as representative of the brand can you tell us more about this?
The idea of the octopus was born from a conversation Emile, our CEO, and I had when we first started thinking about what our signifier should be. I remember saying ‘many hands can hold many things’ and it kind of stuck…even now we have illustrations of an octopus holding a coin in each tentacle. The other reason is we wanted to get across the vastness of the ocean as an analogue for the vastness of the decentralised web so, for us, I think it’s a great fit.
I realise that octopi have tentacles, not hands 😂
Why is this and how have we honoured this in the new logo?
With the new logo we wanted to simplify the image of the octopus so we could also evoke the shape of a coin to ground it in a central concept — since we deal in cryptocurrency. The other thing we wanted to give it was a feeling of motion, of forward momentum. We wanted to get across our determination — as a company — to move fast, move forward and be future-proof. These 3 things are what describe the ethos and spirit of XDEFI.
I think this touches on the ‘Peoples Question’ about choosing a color and logo, does psychology factor in? I.e. do colors trigger certain things in the brain or animals? — I think you’ve touched on that with determination but does psychology play a large factor in this?
That’s a great question and yes, psychology is super important when choosing a colour. So the reason we went with blue is — in large part — because brands that use blue are, generally, seen as trustworthy and stable… that’s why banks often use it, that’s why health services do too… it’s an immediate reaction that you have with this colour whether that’s because we’re hirdwired to or because we’ve been conditioned in that way.
For the logo it more comes in when we think about the shape of it…rounded shapes are friendly, angled shapes are angry…we don’t want to be angry 😂
We noticed there is a slightly darker tone of blue compared to previous colours, is there a reason for this hue change? Some have said blue is clear and professional, but perhaps a bit traditional — do you feel thats the case?
So the darker tone came out of work that we had done with an illustrator we work with a lot. Her brief was to draw something friendly but not childish…so the illustration work on the website came from that. With the background all we told her was that it needs to be blue and that she should be free in choosing what tone that took on, as long as it felt ‘grown-up’ What came out of it was the new background colour which feels a lot classier in my opinion, and more refined.
In response to the traditional aspect — yeah it is a little traditional. But I think that everything we put around it it ‘frame’ it kind of pushes it forward in a different direction.
So we had a few community members go deeper on the Octopus logo — they wanted to know if its because of their characteristics or personality traits or survival instincts (i.e. bulbous head, intelligent)? did that, their 3 hearts, blue blood, anything in their biology play a factor in this?
Completely honestly, no not really… I’m not sure what else to say here other than the considerations that we had around this has been answered in previous questions… One funny thing that happened actually with the original logo is that when we put it out at the very beginning someone on twitter mentioned that it looked like the Martian Man Hunter
There seems to be a trend where logos and branding seems to become more friendly and much simpler? Was this the goal when you set out on this journey (i.e. to go from an aggressive logo to a friendlier one?)
I’m not entirely sure there’s a trend of logos becoming friendlier… it’s about what’s appropriate. There are plenty of brands that feel aggressive, NFL teams, gaming hardware, gyms, brands that want to be viewed as these bastions of performance which cater to a specific audience. We’re not really about that, we’re a financial platform and we want to represent ourselves as a gateway into DeFi, not ringfence ourselves into a niche or appear elitist in any way.
The point about simplicity is a good one but I think that the best logos — the most memorable ones that stand the test of time — have generally been the simple ones. The Nike ‘swoosh’, Apple, FedEx, IBM. It’s about recognition, versatility, reproducibility at any size. The considerations that go into a logo are various and about way more than just something that looks cool or the personal preference of any individual.
So I guess the thing about most of the logo’s you just outlined is they are mostly 2D and not 3D— why did we not pursue a 3D logo?
Because 3D logos aren’t particularly versatile and simplicity allows you to use them anywhere at any size and manipulate it a lot easier. So if we were to get into animating the logo there are considerations there around the complexity required to animate a 3D logo vs a 2D one and how versatile that animation would be…where can we use it and how appropriate is it…there’s a lot more room there if it’s simple and 2D.
Also 2D logo’s are inherently more recognisable when you shrink them down…or crop them… etc etc
Can you give any insight as to how this new look will factor into future iterations of the product?
That would be telling ;) in all seriousness there’s a lot of stuff in the pipeline that I think people are gonna really like. We’re constantly iterating on — not just the design — but taking a really hard look at our UX and how to improve that so we can deliver the best possible product. We don’t want to stand still, we’re a company that wants to forge a path and we constantly reassess what we can do to make the wallet the community wants, as well as how we can better prepare ourselves for the future DeFi.
I think we got a sneak peak 2 days ago when we leaked the Dark Mode version of the app — community members have noted that though Dark mode is very easy on the eyes — will there be an option to set specific hours for dark mode? (I.e. dark mode for the day and dark mode for night?)
That’s a good suggestion, we should probably add that to the pipeline!
Currently it’s just a switch in settings but nothing stopping us from looking at that as an option
Can we expect any more drastic branding changes in future?
It feels strange that you’d call it drastic because it doesn’t feel that way to me, but I guess revealing it all at once could probably come as a surprise! Right now I think we’re in a place that we’re happy with and I don’t expect things to change any time soon. Maybe some minor tweaks here and there but from here it’s all hands on deck getting the wallet up to standard ready for public release.
Are you sure? A community memberwas asking if you’d thought of a type of serpent for the logo redesign as it continues down the Nordic mythology direction and has not been used in crypto yet.
Haha like the world serpent, Jörmungandr (thanks google)
It’s a nice suggestion but really, we like where we are right now and no plans to change
What about for the logo in-app? A community member was wondering if we plant to make any enhancements to the logo, like adding a badge or changing color within the wallet to signify a balance, activation of security feature, coins held, or age of the wallet? Animating the Logo — or Maybe golden ticket badge to signify you’re a lucky OG)
Yeah that’s something that we’ve spoken about a little, very much a nice to have but it’s a consideration. Especially around animating the logo. There are some good suggestions in here which we’ll definitely talk about and see what we can do there!
At the end of the discussion, we rewarded all the community members who provided questions with early beta access and agreed to try to do further check-ins on a monthly basis.
Thanks to everyone who got involved in this check-in and we hope to see you all at our next check-in next month!