Sagmeister & Walsh creates elegant identity for Fugue software

Sagmeister & Walsh has created an elegant visual identity for Fugue, a software product that creates cloud infrastructures. The dynamic system is designed to convey “lineage and humanity” without relying on traditional tech imagery, and features an animated logo and graphic patterns generated in response to user data…

Sagmeister & Walsh has created an elegant visual identity for Fugue, a software product that creates automated cloud infrastructures. The dynamic system is designed to convey “lineage and humanity” without relying on traditional tech imagery, and features an animated logo and graphic patterns generated in response to user data…

A product of US software company Luminal, Fugue creates cloud infrastructure such as servers and security networks using “regenerative component architecture” – in other words, it makes cloud-based systems by constantly generating, destroying and regenerating components in short life cycles, moving data from one place to another in the cloud, a method which allegedly reduces the risk of hacking, configuration drift (inconsistent configuration across computers in a network, which happens due to changes in software or hardware over time), and ‘bit rot’ (the decay of data over time).

Sagmeister & Walsh was asked to create an identity that would reflect the ephemeral nature of the product and developed a script logo constructed from dotted lines which constantly move and regenerate to form the name of the brand. As well as a static version for use on merchandise and in print, the studio has devised an animated logo in which letterforms disappear and reappear as lines regenerate along a given path, visualising how the software works:

Speaking to CR about the identity, Jessica Walsh says the studio was also asked to create a system that would convey a sense of elegance and avoid visuals commonly associated with technology or internet security.

“Fugue wanted to move away from the masculine tech and security graphics that they see often at the trade shows they showcase their software at,” she says. “They wanted the brand to be elegant and stand out against the current tech and security landscape – these were key factors in choosing the color palette and typefaces, which we believe are unusual and unexpected in the industry.”

While the logo’s complexity makes it difficult to read at small sizes, Walsh says this was of little concern to the company, as it will rarely be used in small-scale or on physical products.

“When surveying the media scope for the brand, we found the majority of places they are using [it] are at large sizes: at trade show booths, on large monitors, on tee shirts and tote bags, and on the web,” she says. “There are occasionally times the brand needs to be shown at small sizes and in those instances they use a serif version [shown below] however, it was rare, which allowed us a unique opportunity to design something that works at larger scales,” she adds.

The identity features Grilli Type typeface GT Sectra, which Walsh says was chosen for its contemporary take on calligraphy, while a blue and nude palette echoes the founder’s desire to move away from masculine branding or bolder colours more commonly associated with tech brands.

“GT Sectra is a contemporary serif face that pays homage to the calligraphy of a broad nip pen. When speaking to Fugue, we found that lineage was extremely important to their core values – they wanted to pay respect to the long history of computing their software builds upon – so we wanted a font that was contemporary but also had its roots in history to reflect this philosophy,” she says. “We choose a mono font to accompany GT Sectra that worked well optically for programming code demonstrations for the software,” she explains.

The studio also created a custom application, which allows the company to create patterns and illustrations by importing SVG files (when a line drawing is imported, the application generates visuals in the same style as the logo, such as the icons shown above). Users can then alter size, speed and density to create animations before exporting .tifs or .mov files, and a drawing function in the logo application allows users on tablet devices to draw abstract visuals in the same style as the logo.

An additional application for tech shows and trade fairs, inspired by the company’s name (a musical term referring to themes which are repeated), allows users to import music from their personal library and generate a logo in time to the beat or speed of a particular track.

With its sleek design and subtle features, the identity, at first glance, feels more like one belonging to a fashion or luxury heritage brand than a software firm – it doesn’t look at all like software branding, which is exactly what Sagmeister & Walsh set out to achieve. Creating an identity that mimicks the performance of the product is a clever response to a brief with no obvious visual starting points, and it’s great to see such an inventive approach to branding in an industry which often favours more minimal designs or icon-based systems.

It seems odd not to have created a logo that works in small-scale – or at least, an alternative icon for smaller uses such as online and on social media profiles in the same style as the larger marque – but with no physical products to apply branding to, and most of the company’s presence at events with exhibition stands and digital displays, Walsh says there wasn’t really a need for this. Instead, the studio opted for a flexible visual language based on patterns and abstract symbols.

“When we thought about how people will see their brand, it would be either online or at a trade show event where they give out merchandise. So the most important thing for us was creating a visual language that worked optimally across those media where people see it most often,” she adds.

The large-scale logo is the company’s official marque, she says, and the serif word marque will likely be limited to use on pencils, the back of business cards and as a placeholder on the company’s website. For other small-scale uses such as stickers and letterheads, Walsh says the company will use abstract visuals in the same style as the logo, as shown in business cards above. “The idea was for the graphic language to be recognisable but dynamic and always changing (like the software), so the graphics used are always different,” she adds.

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