[ux] great meeting last week, let's keep it going

Philip Lammert mail at phlammert.de
Fri Jul 8 17:41:05 UTC 2016

Hi everyone,

sorry to let you wait for my promised mail. Didn’t want to raise any
obstacles for Elio and the style guide work. Let’s bring this on!

1. What can be done in an IRC meeting?
2. How can we manage and advance a dynamic brand design?
3. Feedback to Elio’s style guide drafts
4. Thoughts on a further brand design in advance
5. Thoughts on a very basic style guide

Here we go …


Besides the unclear point of what the extent of our basic style guide in
the end should be and what my contribution to this could be, last
meeting I had too many thoughts on the current drafts that I couldn’t
express them fast enough. I also hesitated because it does not seem very
productive to discuss all the details in that circle. I thought the
meeting was about getting to know Elio and a first impression of the
style guide. But of course we want to finish this groundwork quickly.
I’ll use this mail to give feedback on Elio’s drafts and I hope it will
make clear that if we are really talking about a basic style guide here,
that we should reduce it to our few basic elements to leave enough space
for branding ambitions and to not add any new elements or concepts that
anticipate decisions and lead to a wrong direction.

So, what should we use the meetings for when we discuss designs? I think
Elio did a good job explaining his vision of the branding architecture.
There should have been more time for explaining other design decisions,
but I interrupted the discussion because of my general concerns. The
explicit design decisions I mentioned—such as the logo application on
dark backgrounds—were just to explain that there is yet too much of a
brand design with new elements, not to discuss it in detail and serve
explicit solutions. I think that can’t be done in an appropriate manner
during a chat meeting. (Or maybe that is just my opinion as I am not
very fast responding). And as a designer I think, before I can say what
a distinct solution is, I need to visualize a few options. You can’t
just talk about design. So, a meeting could be more about presenting
designs and justifying design decisions and in response give feedback
(correcting directions and saying what should be solved) not alternate
solutions. That means that Elio and I—or later the designer
section—should talk before presenting.


Isabela mentioned it, there is no established process yet. How do we
advance our basic style guide? If anyone will work on the brand design
in future, how can we ensure quality? There has to be an agreement
before adding or changing the style guide. So, if Elio’s work is
finished, how can we keep up the process? Will the only decision makers
be the people from the meeting? Who of the staff has to be involved? Who
should be to not make it too complicated.

The concerns I have about the final kick-off style guide is that it
might give a manifested impression. We might be to cautious about
changes. Ok, you told me we will not. I’ll deal with that for now :) The
other concern is that, if it’s a PDF, it will find its ways to the
coding community and people might take it for absolute. Or at least for
the project they started working on. A solution would be only having the
wiki and always referring to it. Especially in the beginning there
should be a note that it is a dynamic brand design and that it is worth
a second view during a UX or whatsoever working process.


I am referring to the PDF here.

Page 1: The logo is a great version of the current logo tidied up
without getting away from its origin to far. The light yellow background
is a new element. It is a difficult thing and should be tested carefully
before. I also tried out Tor designs working with this background color,
but couldn’t find a satisfying solution yet. Maybe we should advise
against it for now and recommend working on white.

The negative logo does not work well. It obviously looks like the
reverse version of the right logo. You wouldn’t do that with a black and
white photo, change white for black and black for white. We need an
adaption here, but that might be too much for a basic style guide. I
totally like and support that purple as a background color, but for now
we should advise against it.

The monochrome logo works fine.

Page 2: I’m fine with the brand architecture. For now this might work.
But Lato is a humanist typeface and does not look good set in capital
letters. How does a longer subbrand name look like?

Page 3: Material design application: The colored onion on purple does
not work fine. Optically there is only left the light yellow cut out
part of the onion. The purple side of the bulb, which would be the
shadow side, looks wrong when the onion has a darker shadow. As our
primary color is purple, we should find a version that supports
application on such background. For now, should it be a white background?

Page 4: The Lato font—I don’t see any connection to the Tor identity.
I’d say typography is an important decision. For a new logo we would
need awareness and time. So, let’s not rush here neither. I’d say, for
now Arial is working fine. It has no neutral expression, but it looks
like no conscious decision led to this typography. This leaves room for


Sorry for blocking so many impulses, but everything we constitute now
will anticipate decisions and make later decisions more difficult. Here
is how a conscious and conceptual design process could look like. It’s
just two examples from a mail to Elio. I hope this makes clear why all
these details are important.


The purple green color code is huge problem. You won’t believe I already
spent hours on that. If you do an image search on „logo purple green“
all the results look horrible. Thinking of well-known brands I could
only think of the German mobilcom debitel, but it is more blue than
purple. In a first step, without considering the performance
(type/background), I come to two conclusions. The color code looks
better, when the values are approximating, meaning a blueish purple
rather than a reddish purple and solid or blueish green rather than a
yellowish or brownish. And the contrast looks better when it still works
in grayscale, meaning a dark purple and a light, less saturated green. I
came to Purple CMYK 90/100/40/0 (#482c63), which in contrast to white
still looks like purple (unless you use purple type). And the Green CMYK
40/0/90/0 (#afcb37). With a Light Yellow CMYK 5/0/35/0 (#f8f4bd) which
still allows a contrast to white. Now in practice using these colors you
can’t put a green regular type on the light yellow background. A Green
CMYK 45/0/100/0 (#a2c617) type would be a good compromise, given that
the type is only set on white background. Maybe we can use the light
yellow only for the logo onion and as a tertiary color for special
applications such as info bubbles or other highlights. For tabular line
backgrounds we could define a light green pendant using only black type.
For type on screen a dark grey type on white background has a friendlier
contrast rather than a black type. A gray tone could be based on the
purple, which is #484848 (CMYK 0/0/0/75). If we want purple headlines we
would need to make my defined purple lighter. What do you think? Do you
understand and have the same concerns? What do you think about my

I like that you use purple as a primary color and not the green. It is
more confident and differentiating. A primary green looks a bit sick or
spacey/slimy/zombielike to me. Let’s leave the green to the organic
industry :) I think the community would rather wear a green Tor shirt
than a purple shirt, but I guess that’s a special application … and
there is always a black option.



How do you describe your choice of Lato? With its classic/humanist
proportions it has a friendly look when set in small text sizes. But in
headline sizes you notice these incoherent half-rounded stroke endings.
They are characteristic, but at the same time a bit awkward. Or am I too
conservative here?

Where do we place the brand values? Is Tor more friendly? Do we want to
take focus on the people behind it and therefore use a humanist typeface
which refers to handwritten/scribe origins (Lato, Calibri, Myriad,
Verdana, Lucida Sans …)? As a “human voice“ of the project? Or do we
want to say Tor is a strong instrument made to be steady and lasting.
Therefore we could use a construed Neo-Grotesque typeface (Helvetica,
Univers, Futura, Eurostile …)

A compromise could be Source Sans or Fira. Fira is a Neo-Humanist
typeface. It has no classic proportions, still it has a  friendly
humanist/dynamic stroke. Besides it could be tagged as correspondence
typeface as it is based on Meta which is based on Letter Gothic, the
first Sans Serif Monospaced typeface. Correspondance typefaces have
rather condensed proportions, maybe an i with head serif and narrow M,
like in monospaced fonts. Correspondence would fit conceptually to Tor
because of privacy in communication? Or am I drifting off here? :)
Source Sans is an American Grotesque, I would say. Like most of the
Gothic-named. Oswald is a free Gothic, but also the ugliest.

Maybe we should try out a few options here.“


Am I thinking tooo basic if I say the style guide should be like a
three-pager for now? A logo, logo uses, an average/arbitrary green and a
purple, a basic („websafe“) font. We don’t abolish all the ideas of
business cards and slides. They are important model applications of the
brand elements for the immediately following process. I think during a
brand design process there needs to be stuff evolved either way.
Otherwise you can’t decide whether the elements work or not. That means
that the basic style guide would be more a basis for the further brand
design process rather than design advise for applications. Still people
would have a design guideline for their work and couldn’t make anything

Yep, that’s why I said I’d write to the mailing list and not write it
down in the chat :) Please don’t take this long mail for absolute
advise. This is my contribution to the discourse. I hope it doesn’t
intimidate Elio. Let’s keep on designing this brand right after the
initial work! And if we decide that all these concerns obstruct our
kick-off, I’ll be fine with the white logo on purple :) We’ll change
that later. It is more important to keep this stone rolling.

Best regards

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