Established in 2004 as YouSendIt, Hightail, as it was renamed earlier this month, is an online service that allows transfer of large files between users — 43 million registered users plus however many non-registered users. YouSendIt was one of the (if not the) first player to allow this service — before DropBox and WeTransfer arrived on the scene — and despite its horrible user interface and clunky functionality at the time, it became the most well-known service for sending files that would otherwise clog e-mail programs. Today, beyond sending and receiving, the service offers “online file storage, sharing and management capabilities” so the name was apparently holding them back. Hightail worked with Siegel+Gale on naming and strategy and designed its own identity in-house.
“Hightail brings humanity to what was the YouSendIt brand,” said Nik Contis, global director of naming for Siegel+Gale. “The new name elevates the brand, and brings forth the passion and drive of Hightail’s customers.”
The name Hightail suggests the ideas of speed, energy, motion, accomplishment, satisfaction and fun. Using Hightail creates a sense of empowerment, and enables customers to get things done quickly and efficiently.
With a name that strides like a giant across a landscape of Boxes, Syncs and Shares alongside an audaciously elegant look that contrasts with the endless dreary blues of the cloud space, Hightail leads by example. It is the standard bearer that will help transform steady growth into true evolution and take our business to the next level.
A lot of people — on Facebook, on other blogs, and even in the tips we received about it — seem almost personally offended about the new name. Some even consider it misogynistic for the use of “tail” as slang for men trying to get laid (with women). The reaction has been a little extreme. The name is fine. My only problem is that, to me, hightailing it means escaping a bad situation more than doing something at high speed. Also, it’s not like YouSendIt, with its triple camel case, was a thing of beauty and it was difficult to use in a sentence: “I’ll send you the files via YouSendIt,” whereas now you can just say “I’ll Hightail you the files”. That’s economy of words right there. The biggest hurdle is getting people to calling the service Hightail and not YouSendIt. It should take about six months.
The text-only lockup of our name had to be bold and instantly recognizable. As I worked through different versions, I kept asking myself: would this work on the side of a space shuttle? Though simplicity was the main aim, I also wanted to give the wordmark something extra. The horizontal bar over the H adds a playfulness that subtly conveys the idea of doing more and that’s what Hightail is all about. The Hightail wordmark is an introductory handshake that appears on our marketing and sales material, in press articles and on our corporate website.
[We] also wanted another mark for our users — something more personal, a sign that you’re among friends. That mark is the Hightop and it represents how we want people to feel when they use Hightail. It’s a design you might see on an astronaut’s mission patch or an Eagle Scout badge, a mark that symbolizes the success and accomplishment of completing the task at hand, something that lets you know you’re part of a team.
I wanted the Hightop to have its own frame. But I refused to use a circle. […] I wanted something different, a shape that would speak to our brand values of exploration and movement, a frame that was balanced and geometric but also dynamic and original. Odd number-sided shapes are perfect thanks to a flat base that grounds the shape and a point at the top that moves your eye up and out. Triangles are boring, pentagons are too militaristic and nonagons don’t reduce well, which made the heptagon an easy decision.
Regarding the identity… the old logo was fairly decent with its paper airplane that provided a nice metaphor for sending digital files lightly among users, but its blue and green color palette and web design at the time, made it feel like a phishing site. The new logo and web/app design is clearly meant to make the service appear more sophisticated and trustworthy. The new wordmark, based on Hoefler & Frere-Jones’ Tungsten, is handsome and bold. Hard to criticize for anything other than being simplistic (or having no more paper airplane). The dash above it doesn’t quite “convey the idea of doing more” as the quote suggests. I actually thought the dash had been added so that when “The Hightop” mark is used on its own, it creates a “T” in the counterspace of the “H” and the dash, short for HighTail. The Hightop mark is a nice reduction of the identity and the heptagon shape will probably what makes the new identity stick.
In the link to the quotes above, there is a lot of talk about space exploration and astronauts and wondering if the new logo would work on the side of a space shuttle — it’s fine to have big ambitions, but let’s also drop it a notch. This whole higher-meaning becomes a little grating in all the videos and Hightail’s Facebook status updates. There is a little too much confidence in the new name and brand that doesn’t allow its users and audience to build it for them and help establish a productive bond that will make them choose Hightail over its competitors. Overall, I think the change is very positive but I could have done without the “We Rule” attitude.