My sprinkles to create HM brand

Su Lee
Brand Curator @ Human Managed
September 15, 2021

My favorite part of baking a cake is decorating. A plain cake can transform into something special, depending on what ingredients you put in, especially how you decorate it. As a creative person, my job is pretty much like that; I add colorful sprinkles to the ideas and execute designs that align with the brand's vision, purpose, and values. So how do I create a unique brand of a cake with my own sprinkles? Let me share with you that sprinkle moment of creating our HM symbol.

Creating an intriguing brand

When I joined Human Managed, my first task was to create the symbol. The mission was to bring out the human touch to technology and build a brand that everyone could understand. What is the best way of creating an intriguing tech brand? This was challenging because technology is way too complicated, so numerous tech companies tend to identify their brands and describe their products with illustrations. Using the illustration is a friendly way of treating the audience and a unique way to keep a brand's story interesting. However, there's a risk of losing the brand's unique characteristics because of this trend. So I kept this in mind to avoid becoming a part of that trend and stay unique.

HM archive kube

The process of creating a logo and symbol is simple, like below. It just takes time to execute it flawlessly.

  1. Creative Brief
  2. Research
  3. Design studies
  4. Executions

Me during design studies

I felt stuck in the middle of the process. Whether you are a Designer or not, this is a natural phenomenon after spending an ample amount of time on one thing. And for me, this is the moment where I go back to the starting point and check my archive box of research, inspirations, and design drafts. It helps me to take a step back and find a clear purpose or goal for my project. I usually find the golden piece I might have missed. One day, Karen, the CEO, shared some design drafts they created in the past. It was fascinating to look at the visuals and to listen to the ideas behind them. Although they were unfinished, they guided me to which direction Human Managed needed to go. I would call this documentation folder "HM archive kube." Our tech team uses "HM Kube" internally; it's a play on words of cube and Kubernetes. I thought this name was also suitable for design drafts, so I just added an "archive" between "HM" and "Kube."

HM archive kube

An 11-year-old girl's drawing

While I was going through the HM archive kube, there was one image that caught my eye. It was a hand drawing by our CTO's daughter, Zarah, one of our brand ambassadors at Human Managed. Zarah created the hand gesture drawing by combining the "h" and the "m." I felt, "This is it! We finally found our symbol" —It was an aha moment. I appreciated it more because it came from an 11-year-old girl's point of view and because the hands symbolize a creation tool.

Zarah's drawing on a window

I've found more interesting facts about the hand gesture. I learned that this sign is called the Shaka sign, a common greeting in Hawaii, and used among surfers. Also, in Korea, people use this gesture as "call me" or "hello" on the phone. This symbol represents a tool for creation, a way of greetings, and communications aligned with our company's direction. As a hm team, we navigate any direction, no matter the task on hand, which starts with open communication. With this brilliant message behind the symbol, it was time for me to add colorful sprinkles to the hand drawing and develop it as our HM symbol.

My sketches based on Zarah's drawing


A final hm symbol in different background colors

The execution: a sticker

What I've learned...

As a Brand Curator, it does not mean that I am singlehandedly responsible for HM's branding. My role is more about asking a lot of questions, actively listening to the team's feedback, picking the ingredients from archives and live conversations, and bringing them to life. I would not have created an HM brand cake without the team's feedback and ideas. Never say no to others' input, because at the end of the day, every single team member has a golden idea, you just may not know it yet. How do you create a unique brand cake with your sprinkles? When is your sprinkle moment?

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