Developed by Frederick, MD- and Washington, DC-based Luminal, a software startup focused on next generation computing architectures, Fugue is their flagship software product that creates automated cloud infrastructures. Without getting into the sordid technical details of what that actually means, what’s important to know is that the “software replaces the need for maintenance of long-lived components in the cloud with automated regeneration of short lived ones.” The new identity for the software has been designed by New York, NY-based Sagmeister & Walsh.
Fugue wanted us design a brand that visualized this ephemerality and embodied their core attributes of lineage and elegance. They also wanted the branding to depart from the typical “tech” graphics. Our logo works like the software does: it constantly regenerates itself while data moves from one point to another.
The name of the software, Fugue, references music composition made famous by composers like Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. The creators of the software are former musicians and functionalities in the software reference terminology from music. We wanted to pay homage to this in the branding, so we developed the software to also load any music from a users library. The logo speed & pace alters to reflect the beat of the music. The logos with sound can then play at trade shows, in the application demo, or online as animations.
A graphic designer friend of mine, Sam Potts, was musing on Twitter a couple of days ago about how “All graphic design looks the same now”. A true statement now and pretty much at every other juncture in our professional timeline. I bring it up not to get into a discussion about it but because that tweet coincided with when I saw this identity and thought “Well, here is something that looks like nothing else in graphic design right now”.
At first, it’s really disconcerting to see this logo. It’s weird, it’s exaggerated, it’s a little alien. The fact that it’s for a piece of software that can only be described in what sounds no more understandable than R2-D2 beeps and bloops only adds to its oddity. Also: why in the world does a piece of software need such elaborate design? Despite all these initial gut reactions this might be one of the most interesting pieces of design work we’ve seen this year. It’s a mesmerizing wordmark to look at and it challenges all conventions of appropriateness and coolness in identity design. The underlying script wordmark is solid to begin with in its condensed shape and probably would have made for a decent and more expected logo but adding all the “regenerative” graphic debris makes it hard to forget.
Since the company is about constant regeneration and evolution, we also developed an application that allows them to import any SVG file so they can easily create new patterns and illustrations over time as needed. When you import a line drawing the application automatically generates it in the same language of the logo. The user can then alter the size, speed and density with the application to increase clarity or create specific styles of animations based on their need and export .tifs or .mov files. The logo application also has a drawing function so that you can draw abstract visuals in the Fugue language using a tablet device.
I would love to see a version of this online for us to play with. Maybe eventually when Fugue launches its full site. (Preview of it here.) What I really like about this is that it’s an example of a truly flexible logo, it’s not just a shape that can be used as a window where you put in different images and it’s not just color variations — this is taking a single line-work source and modifying it to its extreme, while retaining its own identity.
The abstract blotches are a great way of adding variety to the applications. Rather than just applying the logo in all its variations over and over, these add a touch of intrigue to the materials. And, again, they are just cool to look at.
The identity is extremely expressive and abstract for a software product and perhaps more appropriate for, say, a fashion house but as Jessica Walsh explains to Creative Review, “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.” In that regard, this is exceptionally well positioned to grab the attention of people in what is basically a fashion show where the best dressed wins. If you are a trade show attender and you see this playing on a screen or splashed against makeshift walls you are going to want to go to there.
And, yes, this looks nothing like the rest of graphic design now. That’s a good thing. Or not. Discuss.