This is part of a series of blog posts on decisions we’ve made in the course of business, to provide some insight into our business and product development process. Posts are not chronological. This post examines decisions around Nima naming and branding.
We announced the name of Nima several months ago, but you may not know how it came to be. Naming is a tricky thing in the best of times. (I think before we launched AV by AOL, we spent the better part of many afternoons bandying about names, then double-checking all of them against Urban Dictionary to make certain none were unacceptable.) Before I started at Nima, Shireen and Scott shared the list of names they had considered, including Canary, which was a name that the team had used to some degree in public. No one was in love with the options, so we began a new search.
Naming falls into several conventions, and we knew we didn’t want something super descriptive (e.g. Portable Food Tester) but something a little more interesting and evocative. Given this preference, we looked across everything from non-English words for health/good eating to ancient Greek and Roman Gods and Goddesses (at one point we all joked the device should be called “DeMeter”). I also took a great interest in Scott and Shireen’s personal heritage, researching words and names in both Norwegian and Persian. We looked at just translations for regular words and then looked up names. In this, we came across several beautiful Persian ones, including Nima. Some translations of this name include renowned, fair and equal. All of these resonated with what we are building. We want people to be on equal ground and to be celebrated and renowned no matter the food identity someone has. There were other practical considerations, too. No competitors in our category in the U.S. for the trademark (the main people using the name in social media were all actual people and not other brands), and it’s short and memorable.
So there’s a name, but what does it look like? What’s the brand identity? How do you translate what we’re doing into something beautiful and meaningful? How could we take the brand values we decided were essential and translate those into a wordmark and logo? The things we decided on were: discreet, modern and trustworthy with a splash of celebratory magic. Yes, I know, lots of adjectives. How does this translate into an actual visual of the name? We hired an agency out of Chicago, House of Pretty, to work with us. Patric, their main designer understood what we were trying to do and began iterations on the name itself first. After his first set of 40+ options, we were able to immediately discard script-based wordmarks as too fussy. We wanted something a little more modern.
We began going down a path of certain fonts and exploring ways to leverage the product design in the logo itself. Fortunately, one of the letters in Nima is an “A” which worked very well with the triangular shape of the device. This shape allowed us to create an unusual end to our wordmark and gives a sense of motion. The other letterforms are slightly more traditional, leaning into the sense of something you know, making it appear trustworthy. To get at the concept of discreet (which is really something our product has to be), we explored various colors. We paired a wonderful deep gray with some muted colors for the wordmark.
Once the wordmark was complete, we turned to the task of the logo, which would bear the duty of getting at that concept of celebration. Taking the “A” letterform from Nima, Patric then turned this into a spiral (or what we like to call “fireworks”). For design nerds out there, take a look at the angle of those strokes and see how they perfectly mirror that little swoosh at the bottom of the A. We also added brighter colors to our mix to feel fun and delightful. You’ll see that we tend to use the orange in most places, but these other colors crop up here and there just for little pops of cheer.
All of these have been put in place as our visual identity across our Nima website and key social channels – you’ll see the same celebratory header and logo across Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. It makes for a great backdrop for our attendance at live events. Most importantly, it looks super cool on the product!