The Real Story Behind the Oak Leaf

Tara Calihman February 22, 2013

There is a lot of heavy-duty, heads down work going on at VictorOps right now. Much of it involves discussions around Scala, Akka, Play and the excitement of building our third large-scale service infrastructure from the ground up. VO is making amazing progress and the passion for the space is evident in every conversation and demo we do.

Building another company enables you to do things differently than you did in the past. With VO, we had such a concrete idea of what we wanted to build that we leaned into the brand in a BIG way. VO is for all the unsung heros of IT in SaaS businesses and we wanted something as strong and meaningful for our company’s identity.

That’s why we turned to one of our friends in Boulder, Jay Ferracane, of AngryBovine, to help us realize the brand we wanted to build.  Jay got the vibe immediately and drew upon his father’s military experience and his childhood growing up with tales of battle lore. This turned out to be a perfect fit and Jay was able to assist VO to communicate our purpose visually.

Here’s what Jay had to say…

**Tell us about Angry Bovine. **Angry Bovine is a multi-disciplinary studio. A little bit about my background…I was a client-side creative director and an agency creative director, and at some point, I realized I wanted to be somewhere in the middle…to work very closely with clients but also deliver agency-like services. Because of the way the world works today, you have all these talented resources out there, so I can go to my clients and bring on staffing to do a motion project if we need to do that. We can scale to all points and sizes.

The thing that is most valuable to me is that I still have a hand in the work. I have set up my organization to allow me to do exactly that. I can have a conversation with my client directly and translate those ideas into copy, visuals, motion, whatever. At Angry Bovine, I try to demystify design for my clients and make the process more about problem solving.

**What were you trying to achieve with the design of the VictorOps site? **VictorOps wanted to do something different in the space. I’ve done a lot of B2B software design work and have found that just because it’s not a sexy business doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting. That’s another trait of what Angry Bovine is trying to do…bring consumer practices to enterprise-type settings.

The VictorOps guys wanted the brand to incorporate a couple of different notions. The idea of the military level of devotion and quality of DevOps teams and the ideas of duty & honor. But Todd (the CEO of VictorOps) also wanted to harken to outdoor brands a little bit…as with the mountain basecamp nod. It’s an interesting problem to solve and it’s Angry Bovine’s sweet spot. We like to aim for odd combinations of things that make brands and businesses stand out.

**How did you choose the oak leaf for the logo? **The logo manifested itself after doing research on historic symbols of victory. We asked ourselves about how the DevOps guys wanted to be rewarded and that led us to looking at the history of heraldry. Roman soldiers were decorated and given honors after coming home victorious from battle. We kept coming back to this idea of being in the trenches and fighting a war. When we realized that oak leaves were a symbol of a triumphant return from battle, we really zeroed in on that.

Oak leaves aren’t that militant, can stand alone as a graphic and incorporate the outdoor feeling of Todd’s mountain basecamp. The logo was meant to get people to ask questions.

**What sort of branding issues come along with doing design for startups? **When doing branding, especially for startups, you need to remember your underlying ideals while also being forward-looking. Building a modular system works well so that as the brand inevitably expands and changes directions, we have a system in place that we’re only building on the consistency of it. The system can’t be so locked down that it can’t be changed as the business grows.

It’s important to think about the challenges inherent to a startup and where you brand will need to live in the future. Would the product function in this way at some point? Does it function well where the product functions? The brand identity has to do all these things. Even in a project that takes just a short amount of time, we’re always processing these things and working with a client that really wants us to do that is critical. Your brand is going to live in these different places so from the outset, we’re trying to envision how that happens.

You can see more of Jay’s work on the Angry Bovine site and follow him on Twitter.

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