How We Redesigned the Zugata Logo

By Jessica Phan
on Oct 26, 2017 10:49:17 AM


Back in 2015, Zugata was only a feedback tool for employees to give and request feedback from the people they work with most. Today, we are a more holistic performance management platform, focused on helping employees reach their potential and organizations improve their bottom line. We’re fostering a high-performing culture through continuous development, equipping HR leaders, execs, and managers with valuable insights and cultivating a culture of shared success.

We’re a whole lot more than we were 2 years ago, so we knew it was time to communicate that better — starting with our logo. And it was more than just wrangling pixels and fine-tuning colors. It was about reflecting, asking questions, collaborating and refining our narrative.

So how does one go about revamping a startup logo?

1. Reflect on Our Offerings

Over the years, we’ve built out a lot of features in Zugata and decided it was time to revisit a branding exercise that we first created in 2015. This exercise was introduced to
 Ashlee and myself by Creative Director from Good Eggs, Andrew Johnson, during his design workshop at Whitespace. We listed out all of our offerings and lined them up with how we wanted our users to feel. From there, we were able to narrow down how the “new” Zugata should look and feel.

2.pngFrom our exercise, we learned that Zugata should look simple, friendly, smart, fresh, dynamic, credible, social, safe and informative.

2. Ask users to describe us

Though we knew how we wanted our users to feel and how we wanted the “new” Zugata to look, we wanted to gather more insight from our users. We reached out to several users and asked them to send me “2–3 words you would use to describe Zugata.”

3.pngBy the way, the subject line for this was simply “👋”

From all the adjectives we’ve collected, we began to sort them by similarity, like card sorting, a UX method for evaluating information. And here’s what people said:


As we sorted, we found common adjectives people use to describe Zugata: informative, innovative, user-friendly, and all about my development. This allowed us to understand how our customers saw us, and, at the same time, it gave us the opportunity to gather feedback about their experiences.

3. Brainstorm concepts around our mission

For next steps, we needed to hone in on our concept. We began to create a mind map around our mission. With our mission to empower employees to reach their potential, it generated various nouns and verbs like people, stairs, trees, light bulb, grow, empower, etc.


From mindmapping, we were able to identify a few categories to create our concepts. Here’s what we came up with:

  • Zugata is all about me
  • Zugata helps me grow
  • Zugata connects me with insights
  • Zugata is continuous and ongoing

From these concepts, we began our ideation process with thumbnail sketches.


4. Analyze color use in our industry

Throughout the process, we also looked at other logos in the HR industry to observe what’s out there, what’s working, what’s not and where we can shine. With all the logos we’ve collected, we organized and lined them on the color spectrum to spot opportunities where we could stand out.

Logo opportunities in shades of yellow and purple to pink.

While there were a lot of blacks, oranges, greens and blues, we saw opportunities in shades of yellow and purple to pink. Yellow is not visible, so we nixed that option, leaving us with purple to pink. We referenced back to our “What should Zugata look like” exercise to make our decision. Though pink is “fresh” and “dynamic”, it did not feel as “credible” and “safe” as a shade of blue. To find that balance, we decided to go with a color that was in between — purple.

Along the way, we also learned that purple represents creativity, wisdom and a higher self.

5. Ideate, Vote, Iterate & Fine-tune

Instead of waiting to show the team the final design, we included them into the decision making, because Zugata is everyone’s baby. The concepts from the mind map helped us generate ideas. We created several sketches, shared them with the team, and asked them to place a heart on the one they thought best communicated Zugata.

A small sample of the dozens of concepts we voted on

At the same time, I shared it with some design friends over at Whitespace to get their initial reactions for feedback. In the end, the Zugata team narrowed it down to two options:

  1. Zugata is all about people: employees, managers, execs and HR leaders
  2. Zugata helps you understand the DNA of yourself, your team and your company


It was a tight race between the two. In the end, we decided to go with the logo on the left because:

  • Zugata is “simple & friendly” as stated in our “What should Zugata look like” exercise
  • Zugata is already a story in itself. We rather have people ask us “what does the name mean, rather than what does the logo mark mean?”
  • Zugata really is all about employees and helping them develop. It’s about people.

And of course, less is always more.

And the winner is…*drum roll*


And that is how and why we designed our logo. Yes, it’s a smile!
 A smile is universally understood across all languages. Everyone knows what it is, what it means, and how great it feels. People smile when they feel a connection, they smile when they feel a sense of accomplishment, they smile when they received something valuable, and they smile when they feel empowered. This is the feeling we want all employees to feel through the experience of our platform.

Just remember, a logo is only a small piece of your brand, but it doesn’t define it completely. Your brand is defined by…

  • Your tone and voice you use throughout your blog posts, marketing site, product and emails
  • Your look and feel from the type of illustrations, iconography, typography or photography you use
  • Your people and their character — it’s how your customer success & sales team made users and potential customers feel

At Zugata, our brand aims to be the most friendly, human and insightful performance management platform, focused on what really matters to employees, managers, execs, and HR leaders. Learn how we are doing this by requesting a demo.


By the way, if you are interested in being a part of something outside of the box in the HR space, check out our open positions. Or, if you want to hear more about the logo design process, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email at 

Topics: Zugata News

Author: Jessica Phan

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