I’ve always championed our company’s rebrand using this audacious analogy: Hightail is like NASA in the 1960s. Our users are the astronauts taking giant leaps of creativity, while we’re the geeks at Mission Control calculating air-to-fuel ratios and parabolic trajectories to ensure Neil and Buzz get where they’re going, then come home safely to enjoy tickertape parades and punching conspiracy theorists in the face.
Space exploration became an internal theme of the new Hightail brand that even extended to the names of the various project teams working across all our products and services: Centauri, Orion, Polaris, Pulsar — everyone at Hightail is looking to the stars. The design team’s mission was to create a visual identity that matched these lofty ambitions.
The text-only lockup of our name had to be bold and instantly recognizable. As I worked through different versions, I kept asking myself: would this work on the side of a space shuttle? Though simplicity was the main aim, I also wanted to give the wordmark something extra. The horizontal bar over the H adds a playfulness that subtly conveys the idea of doing more and that’s what Hightail is all about.
The Hightail wordmark is an introductory handshake that appears on our marketing and sales material, in press articles and on our corporate website. But we also wanted another mark for our users — something more personal, a sign that you’re among friends.
That mark is the Hightop and it represents how we want people to feel when they use Hightail. It’s a design you might see on an astronaut’s mission patch or an Eagle Scout badge, a mark that symbolizes the success and accomplishment of completing the task at hand, something that lets you know you’re part of a team.
Circles are lazy
These days a major function of any logo is to be the app icon on a user’s phone or tablet. Rather than be dictated by the tile format of mobile devices, I wanted the Hightop to have its own frame. But I refused to use a circle, which too often feels like the lazy option, a comfortable crutch used as an easy fix for any lame design.
All circles are the same so it’s almost impossible to create one that stands out. I wanted something different, a shape that would speak to our brand values of exploration and movement, a frame that was balanced and geometric but also dynamic and original.
Odd number-sided shapes are perfect thanks to a flat base that grounds the shape and a point at the top that moves your eye up and out. Triangles are boring, pentagons are too militaristic and nonagons don’t reduce well, which made the heptagon an easy decision.
I’m proud of the new Hightail identity and of the amazing work done by the whole team here. The primary mission was to deliver a strong, unique brand and we’ve achieved that with our fantastic wordmark and logo. But the real work starts here. Now we have to instill our new brand with life and make it mean something to people.