Reflecting the spirit of Seldon
Over a balmy summer’s weekend in 2014, I began work on the initial draft of a business plan for a new startup – an open source machine learning platform – and Seldon was the first name that came into my head. Sci-fi fans will recognise the name as a nod to Isaac Asimov, who was light years ahead of his time. Back in the 1990s, his Foundation Series inspired my early interest in the concept of deriving predictions from vast amounts of behavioural data. And unlike most important decisions at Seldon, the founding team didn’t take much time to debate the options. So the name stuck. And, four years later, we’re ready for the next phase in our evolution.
In our early days, we did what most start-ups do: we developed brand and marketing on the hoof, on a shoestring budget. There were, after all, more pressing things to pay for in the short term. At the time, I thought a stop-gap logo that didn’t represent our brand identity was worse than no logo at all. So we set out to clearly present the company name in a standalone logotype, created by trawling through a fonts website and sticking candidate logos on the wall for a vote. Hardly an in-depth creative exploration!
Since our launch we’ve evolved and matured quickly, keeping our laser focus on product and business. Like our business, our brand identity is something that has evolved and matured over time, and it’s important that this evolution is represented effectively. For us, that’s meant going back to the drawing board with the help of an exceptional creative team who clearly understood who we are, what we stand for, and, vitally, where we are going. And we’re thrilled to be able to share those results today.
Community first, community always
Community is at the heart of everything we do at Seldon. We’ve been proudly open source from the start. We were one of the first to commoditise a machine learning platform and infrastructure, and although this seemed counter intuitive commercially, I believe it’s important to be a disruptor – and not get disrupted.
Today, our community includes global network of over 5000 AI practitioners and Seldon Core has over 90k installs (via Docker Hub) since December 2017. We’re organisers of the 2000-strong TensorFlow London meetup and host regular business-focused breakfast briefings at Rise London. We recently took to the Thames for London’s first AI Cruise… and even partnered with Google to create a meta-community of UK AI community managers. So it was important to us that our new brand reflected our place at the hub of a fast evolving machine learning ecosystem – a platform in its own right. And we think we’ve brought that all to life.
Flexible brand foundations
Let’s start with our new brand basics. We set out to capture the legendary Seldon drive and ambition, expressing this through an adaptive, versatile identity and a real ‘challenger’ attitude. So we avoided the generic corporate tech look with its blinking servers and sunset cityscapes. That’s not who we are.
Four fresh new colours amplify our primary palette, with hints of teal, mauve, pink and gold, along with black and white. As these colours represent the key user groups served by our platform – data scientists, devops, business people and consumers – there’s no hierarchy between them. At Seldon, we bridge the gap between these constituents, enabling them to work with and for each other more effectively and shape the future with machine learning.
Our ability to leverage and adapt to new trends and signals is one of our core attributes. We’re agile, restless and kinetic, constantly analysing and assessing market and stakeholder signals to calibrate our future direction. So we didn’t want a static identity that remains fixed in place for all time. We wanted it to be free to move and evolve, so our designer worked with us to craft an adaptive logotype.
The ‘S’ and ‘N’ characters are made up of the same character flipped around by 90 degrees, connecting a repeat of the Seldon name in a restless, upward trajectory. The result is a bespoke mono-linear, upper case logotype influenced by the monospaced fonts used across coding and programming.
We also wanted something genuinely futuristic, avoiding the clichés of retrofuturism, while remaining modern, accessible and intelligent. Four circles form the foundation of our new Seldon symbol, which is unified by a connecting thread, creating a continuous engine. The symbol can be expressed in various ways, from a static linear stamp (when it’s locked-up with our new logotype) or used in a more illustrative style. Four connecting lines can accelerate off in a new direction at any moment, as though anticipating future trends.
New look, new feel, new voice
A brand is so much more than a logo. So we created the new Seldon symbol to be a powerful and restless graphical device in its own right, comprising four lines that represent the four key attributes of our audience. Soon, you’ll see it animated to create a strong sense of movement and dynamism online. And this graphical approach can be extended to create illustrations for new ideas and messages — everywhere from the infinity symbol to the ampersand. Already we’ve created a raft of new icons with a distinctive linear quality, and these will be used to illustrate our key messaging. On the subject of messaging, we’ve also developed a bold, direct and engaging new Tone of Voice, which you’ll soon see rolling out in all our communications. Because for Seldon this is only the beginning.
Looking to the future
Today, I’m more than excited to share our brand with you, our community and the world. It’s an exciting, modern, dynamic identity and I know it more effectively communicates who we are and the role we’ll play in the years to come. The design process – and brand identity it has produced – has been reaffirming and reinvigorating for all of us here. Now it’s ready, it’s out there and we’re ready for the next chapter. Join us on the journey.