Zapier is an app that connects over 400 other apps, which leads to challenging brand requirements. I redesigned the brand identity to work well across internal (destination website, web app...) and external (marketplace listings, social media profiles...) digital and print enviroments.
Zapier grew from a weekend contest-winning side project to a well-funded startup with a fast growing user base without any internal design resources. I met them while they were attending the preeminent startup incubator Y Combinator. Busy iterating on their core technical product, they hired me to design a few error pages on a contract basis. As we gained mutual trust and appreciation, mini-projects grew into a full redesign of the entire destination site and web app.
With a self-made logo, the three cofounders had pushed the fledgling brand admirably far. We decided that the stage of the business and the growth momentum justified a brand refresh to refine the logo and better express the maturing brand and solve a number of current issues.
The Zapier brand needed to be strongly represented in a growing number of contexts. In addition to the destination site and web app, content marketing was playing an increasingly important role in the company's growth strategy.
With over 200 integrations partners and more added each month, marketplace listings and cross-promotions required consistent, yet custom assets to be most effective.
In addition to digital placement, the brand would need to appear in the physical world, too. Printed goods like t-shirts and stickers as well as promotional event materials like one-sheets were known short-term needs.
I wanted to retain the aspects of the logo that were working well because there was already market awareness of the brand and both the founders and I were happy with their original typeface choice and the bold orange color, which suited the product and attracted attention on crowded marketplace directories. While the 'API' in the name was clever, it was potentially exlusionary to a larger potential audience and contradicted the core product value that you don't need to posess technical knowledge in order to use Zapier.
With that goal and the many contexts and requirements in mind, I simplified the logotype by limiting it to a single color and weight. This had an immediate impact on consistency whether displayed on light backgrounds or reversed over dark backgrounds. I normalized the letter spacing for consistency and increased spacing to improve legibility at small sizes.
I returned to the more complex geometry of the original logomark and explored lots of varations while crafting a story around the mark. The original mark evoked the idea of an asterisk, which is used to denote and draw attention to subtext—that fit because customers use Zapier to connect and automate other apps while the product itself melts into the background doing work for you.
I discovered that the more circular the negative space in the mark, the more it looked like a flower at small sizes; that didn't suit the brand. However, a rounded rectangle at different sizes looked more like a gear. Aha! A gear is the perfect symbol for an automation product. It's utilitarian and expresses the concept that Zapier is, while crucial, a piece in the larger puzzle that is your workflow. After thorough testing and refining, we had our new logo.
The rollout for the brand refresh took months. The internal deployment was painless because the site redesign accounted for the update and I had minimized references to a small number of image files in the refactored CSS code. Updating external uses were much harder. We systematically worked through a list of locations (some known, some added as we discovered them), uploading new assets where we could ourselves, and then waiting on partner actions for the remainder.
After providing a dedicated brand page from which press and partners could download the updated brand assets, we continued to see occasional use of the old assets. We discovered that many people would simply search for logos on Google and use the highest ranking images there! That meant we had to battle high traffic blog posts about Zapier using the outdated logos to improve SEO to get the new logos to rank higher. We did eventually win, but there are still old versions stubbornly hanging on in the search results.
Zapier has since grown into a 20-person company with remarkable growth and popular content marketing. The bold brand has garnered attention in social media and scaled well, now interacting with over 400 app partners and the logo continues to gain visibility through event sponsorships, webinars, cross-promotional marketing, and more.
Visit Zapier.com to learn more.
All artwork copyright Zapier, Inc. Photo courtesy of Zapier.