Launched in 2012, Medium is a publishing platform founded by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams — relevant to mention, as Medium is the opposite of Twitter, encouraging long-form writing. Anyone can publish on Medium and everyone’s posts look the same, there are no themes, no customization, and the only thing that separates one post from another is the quality of the content. Recently, Medium has gotten some mainstream traction, becoming the place where people confess and profess all kinds of things, from how they designed a logo to how Bono is concerned about the planet. To its credit, Medium offers a beautiful interface to work on and an equally pleasant reading experience with large type and no distractions. The next step in its evolution includes a new logo designed in-house in collaboration with San Francisco, CA-based PSY/OPS.
[We] pursued the concept that our logo could 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. […] This simple geometric interpretation of the M felt fun — like a delightful game or a deeply satisfying puzzle. […] 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. […] 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 old logo was fine not because it was a good logo but because Stag is an excellent typeface and even at its most bare and unstyled, as was the case with the old logo, it simply works. In that spareness, the old logo also supported the no-frills design layout of Medium and didn’t call any attention to itself. The new logo is a parallel to the rise in popularity of the platform, both now saying “Look at me!”. The new logo comes with a lot of (nearly random) ideas explained through, of course, a post on Medium: It’s a puzzle! It’s a conversation! It’s planes (not the flying kind but the dimensional kind)! All are acceptable but, let’s face it, this is an extruded M for Medium. We get it.
Execution-wise, I happen to like it. Or, at least aspects of it. I wouldn’t go to the mattresses for it, as I have a feeling this comment section doesn’t end well for Medium. I like the connection of the bottom middle point of the “M” with its right stem — I think that’s what takes it from being a weird solution to something with a bit of visual interest. I’m not sure if the monochromatic approach is the best for it and, as the video below shows, a multi-color approach could add some definition to the planes. So, it’s not the best logo ever but it’s a good evolution from the almost non-logo that preceded it.
Someone watched a little too much MTV growing up! Just ribbing: the video is okay but it definitely feels NOT like Medium.
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.
The wordmark is also a decent change. The image with the lines coming out of the “M” is a little confusing but it does pay off in explaining the angles and aesthetic choices for the wordmark. It looks sharp, it complements the monogram quite well, it’s properly spaced, and it’s not Circular or Helvetica or another geometric sans, so bonus points for doing something different and custom.
More importantly, the logo’s main use is in a small spot on the page that doesn’t even stick to the header as you scroll. It disappears right away. The new “M” monogram works perfectly well in letting you know this is a Medium post and then it recedes into the background to let the full-page opening images grab your attention and lead you into the story. In that context, it works quite well and doesn’t get in the way.