Branding for a mobile operating system – Part I

Branding is a wonderful process. When done right, it’s fun, engaging and a highly rewarding activity that lets a designer spread his arms and dive into the the valley of possibilities. But sometimes, you end up going splat at the bottom of the deep gorge with a board in your hand that reads ‘Ouch’.


In January of this year, we started work on the branding for a top secret mobile product due to be unveiled later in the year. All we knew about the project was that we were creating the branding for a group of apps that would be launched every few months throughout the year.

The product was to be called Neon.

We spent the first few days on our preliminary research and gathered some ideas and references for what would be a good approach the project. We went in for the first meeting with convinced of what we were doing and prepared to knock the project out the park in a matter of weeks. Even though our client seemed keen on the concept we presented that was based on the etymology of the word Neon (the word derives from ‘novum’ which means ‘new.’ On its discovery, Neon was called the New Light), by the end of our meeting it became apparent that we were working on something big. This was no app package – this was a whole new android operating system.

Since the scope of the project was much larger than we had foreseen, we had to go back and expand our research to include a few more ideas that would be relevant to an OS. We looked at the basics of an OS and the specific USPs of Neon OS. We looked at the idea of usability and broke it down to the essentials. This is how we came up with concept of the shortest route between any points.

Pairing ‘The Shortest Route’ with our initial concept of ‘New Light’, we started making piles and piles of sketches and concepts. After around 25 to 30 sketches, we picked the 10 we liked the best and presented them to client.


This went on for a couple of meetings eliminating choices as we progressed. In spite of pain, sweat, creative blocks, and tea-deprivation, we charged ahead like a mountaineer in a snowstorm. Finally, we came down to the final two concepts.

Concept one was overtly simple, easily reproducible and all in all a safe bet.

Concept two was a bit complicated both conceptually and visually.

I personally liked the second concept which solidified in one of the presentation meeting itself when the CEO remarked that one of the initial shape looks like a wormhole. The wormhole idea tied into core of the shortest route concept and made it ever stronger. Later iterations were designed to represent that.

After a long discussion on each logo’s pros and cons, the committee decided that the first concept was the better way to go. We did a few more logo variations with different color options and spacing between the lines. Finally we reached a satisfactory logo variation that both we and the client were happy with.

As we were waiting for them for an official sign off on the final logo so we could start with the brand book and the app icons we got a call from the clients.

Due to copyright issues it turned out they could not trademark the logo and the name. We were told to hold on production till they found a solution.




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