The Story Behind Medium’s New Logo [2015]

*Medium has since updated their branding. The latest guidelines are here.

Ever since Medium first launched in beta three years ago, we have sported a logo that is a big, bold, black-and-white slab-serif M, from the font Stag.

While simple, elegant, and strong, this Stag M proved rather inflexible as a logo. It served us well through our first few years, but as Medium has grown and evolved, the logo has begun to feel flat, impenetrable, blunt, and not to be toyed with. It is also not particularly distinctive, either. In short, our M no longer captured or conveyed what Medium has become.

So, we set out this summer with the goal of creating a logo that was a better reflection of who we are, and where we want to head from here.

After exploring about a million different ideas for a new icon, we arrived back at the capital M as a visual mark we wanted to hold onto. Next step: we started having some fun — figuring out how an M shape could bend and stretch to embody what Medium felt like to us.

From there, we started getting more serious, working with type designer Rod Cavazos of the foundry PSY/OPS. With Rod, we pursued the concept that our logo could be made of a series of interconnected ideas or shapes that, when joined together, form a new thought. A logo that flows, unfurls, and builds like a great and memorable conversation.

At last, we were on to something! This simple geometric interpretation of the M felt fun — like a delightful game or a deeply satisfying puzzle. We couldn’t stop ourselves from playing with all the different treatments, mutations, and color combinations it was practically begging for.

We began to see the four planes of the logo as overlapping strains of a conversation. A conversation whose tone and direction shift as the planes come into contact with each other.

Next, we went back to our type friends at PSY/OPS to develop a unique wordmark that would be aesthetically akin and also live comfortably alongside our new M. The result is a custom set of letters that beautifully picks up on the angles and spirit of the logo, without becoming too harsh or overly geometric.

Lastly, after much design philosophizing as to whether our logo should be rendered in perspective, isometric, or axonometric projection (we went isometric), we created an exhaustive range of different heights and angles to make sure we landed on the most steady and most optically pleasing form.

And as a very last finishing touch, we rounded those sharp corners just a tad, so we didn’t accidentally poke someone’s eye out. The final result, ladies and gentlemen, we couldn’t be more proud of:

And, just for fun:

Artist, designer, and Lead Art Director for @GoogleDoodles