Why do Startup Weekend logos all look different but somehow similar?
As of July 2016, Startup Weekend has reached 150 countries with over 1,000 organizers around the world. Yet, if you look at their logos, they all look different, while some elements seem to be preserved. What exactly are different and what are the same?
According to the official brand guidelines from Startup Weekend, every Startup Weekend organizer is allowed freedom to be creative with its logo as long as 2 key elements stay intact: the Beaker image and the text “Powered by Google for Entrepreneurs”. This flexibility allows organizers to differentiate themselves with unique logos, while strengthening the global brand of Startup Weekend.
So What is the Story Behind Startup Weekend Utrecht 2016 Logo?
Key Image 1: The Palm
Our logo designer, Madelein Ovens, did encounter difficulties as there are already all kinds of variations made. Yet with her involvement in previous Startup Weekend Utrecht events, she experienced a strong sense of collaboration among the participants, mentors, judges and organizing team. This is the key message she wants the logo to convey.
To visualize the abstract concept of collaboration, she used the shape of a palm in the background. The “fingers” of the palm are 5 iconic buildings of Utrecht, which are Dom Tower, St Catherine’s Cathedral, Water Tower Utrecht, Province Utrecht Building and of course, a Dutch Windmill. The Province building was particularly chosen (instead of the City Hall) as the thumb for its most important symbolic meaning: Startup Weekend Utrecht is going beyond the city level to a wider province level.
Key Image 2: The Beaker
With the palm in place, she put the beaker in the middle. The 3 circles at the side of the beaker not only resemble an ecosystem, but also to represent 3 key activities participants do during the event – Meet People, Have Fun, Innovate.
Miffy (Nijntje in dutch), the famous cute white female rabbit in children’s books, is undoubtedly the perfect representation of the citizens in Utrecht, as she was created by a dutch artist Dick Bruna, who was born in Utrecht. As the heart of the ecosystem, the Miffies situate right inside the beaker.
Every year our logo will be different. Do you have great ideas for our upcoming logos? You are more than welcome to let us know by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org or just come check out our upcoming events at www.swutrecht.com!
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UP Global’s design team is tasked with visually communicating how and why UP Global works. Not just by what colors are chosen, or by the shape of a logo, but by giving each program an identity that ties it to the whole organization.
Design is so simple, it’s complicated. Companies have tried and failed to visually tell their story and provide a clear brand narrative. With months of hard work behind us, and even more ahead, we hope UP Global’s design will help take your events and impact to the next level.
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
– Steve Jobs
UP Global is the overarching parent brand and underlying foundation of all activity within our organization. Programs like Startup Weekend, Startup Next, and Startup Education, while important on their own, must be built upon a stable foundation to have longevity.
This system reflects the way our community operates: We all lead unique programs, events, and local efforts, but we come together under one entrepreneurial movement and share many common goals for bettering our own communities and the world as a whole.
This brand structure and hierarchy is called a ‘House-Blend’. This is an architecture based on sub-brands with added credibility coming from the parent brand. Each program has unique offerings and benefits, yet are connected by visual cues and a similar naming structure. By using this system, we can not only house all programs under the UP brand, but connect them in a way that adds recognition and trust.
Our logo is the flagship element of our brand and one of the most visible elements in our identity system. This mark provides a universal signature across all UP Global communications, necessitating meticulous care and consideration when using it.
When creating a new brand for one of UP’s programs, the design team asks four key questions: Does the logo represent the core values of the program? Will the subject matter be universally recognizable? Does it fit within the brand system? And lastly, is it aesthetically pleasing?
Here are some quick descriptions of the meaning behind each program logo:
Startup Weekend: The Startup Weekend logo represents two fundamental elements of the program; the beaker, which speaks to the creative aspect while the figures inside represent the importance of team. However, the real soul of the brand lies in its interactive qualities. Much like the version before it, the Startup Weekend brand was created to be used and built upon. One look at the event t-shirt wall in UP’s Seattle HQ says it all. Image after image created using the logo – tweaked to represent individual community personalities. This is where the heart and soul of this identity system lies.
Startup Next: If Startup Next’s logo could be summed up in one line, it would be: helping your startup find the direction it needs. The logo uses a rocket – an iconic image known well in the entrepreneurial community, but gives it a fresh twist by combining it with a compass rose – a representation of finding direction. These two elements work together to create a mark that can grow and evolve along with the leading global pre-accelerator – Startup Next.
Startup Digest: Startup Digest’s branding combines the image of a mailing stamp and a newsletter in one cohesive mark. The logo was created to be an efficient, readable anchor for the brand, aimed at communicating the brand’s evergreen, core elements.
Startup Education: When looking for something iconic to represent the spirit of both entrepreneurship and education, our design team kept coming back to the same answer; the lightbulb is a globally understood icon for thought, ideas, and innovation – the “ah-ha!” moment present in both entrepreneurship and education . On the other end of the mark is the pencil. Not only is this a recognized icon of education, it puts the thoughts and ideas of the light bulb into action, which is evocative of the entrepreneurial spirit.
The design team is continuing to roll out updated branding for older programs as well as new branding for Startup Week and Entrepreneurs Across Borders.