Hot Monogram, Cool Type
A fresh rebrand for podcast hosting platform Fireside.fm
When you work in a visual industry based largely on word of mouth and the internet proliferation of your current and past work, you often attract clients looking for something very similar to what you’ve done before. This is especially true for commercial lettering artists, who are consistently working with the same 26 characters, and may develop certain styles that happen to become popular or frequently sought out.
In my career, elegant, highly decorative script lettering quickly became the primary reason for potential clients to discover and then ultimately hire me early on. I thoroughly enjoy that work, so that’s not a problemby any stretch of the imagination, but I do like to consider myself a versatile designer, capable of executing any style of lettering and type. So any time I get the opportunity to work on something outside that familiar zone, I jump at the chance.
Dan Benjamin founded and runs a premium podcast hosting and analytics platform called Fireside, that makes setting up and publishing a podcast incredibly easy. Several months ago, Dan asked if I’d be interested in helping him replace the first iteration of the company’s branding with something a bit more versatile and considered.
The original logo was crafted by the designer that helped build the site, and had served the platform well. But with multiple colors incorporated, and the literal imagery of a microphone, for instance, the branding didn’t lend itself easily to a wide variety of potential applications. And with a growing, vibrant community of fervent Fireside users and supporters, this versatility was a major goal for Dan. He wanted the flexibility to translate his branding to products like t-shirts, pins, stickers, etc., and needed something better suited for all that.
I knew from the beginning that I would want to retain some sort of fire element in the rebrand. Fire is such a strong, accessible concept that provides instant recognition and familiarity. As is my nature, I approached this “letter first”, and immediately began to wonder if I might be able to develop a letter-based flame icon that could actually serve as a standalone monogram element of the brand. After some brief sketching, I quickly landed on this direction.
I was thrilled with where this was going, and from there, I started by attempting to directly translate the F and S from this flame monogram into a full flame-referencing logotype.
This was a fun exercise, but given the more professional, technical nature of the company, this lettering felt a bit too whimsical, especially when paired with the illustrative, organic-shaped icon.
I then explored a couple of different font-based directions to provide some grounding for the overall brand. My favorite of these initial options was based on a redrawn version of Cooper Black, and if I can’t one day find another use for this “candle lowercase i”, I’m going to be quite sad.
Things were really starting to shape up at this point, but Dan felt that the flame icon was a bit too close to flower territory instead of reading immediately as a flame. Also, as I mentioned at the beginning, one of our main goals was to increase the versatility of the brand, and this gradient was beginning to feel less and less helpful to the ultimate strategy. I didn’t feel like orange or yellow really carried the strength of the mark adequately, so I decided to hunt for the perfect red to stand as the hero color of the brand.
As far as the shape was concerned, I was hesitant to leave what felt like such a killer monogram, for fear of losing the legibility of the letters in search of a more appealing overall form. So I went back and studied the original Fireside brand, to see if there might be an opportunity here for a bit of valuable recognition retention with the existing user base, and took a stab at heavily tributing to the old icon.
And with that, it felt like we had a winner.
The red was a soft, warm-leaning unique shade, and the FS legibility was still plenty plausible. Now, we had a simple, strong brand developing that could effortlessly translate into just about any application imagineable.
Ultimately, Dan decided to keep the logotype more in line with the previous version, and we settled on a custom, redrawn setting of the name based closely to the wonderful Brandon Grotesque typeface by Hannes von Döhren, which fit the bill perfectly.
Dan is doing some pretty incredible things with the Fireside platform, and the podcasting community is really taking notice. Now, the company has a brand that can help push it to the widespread usership it deserves.