The first ever BlueChilli logo was awful. It turns out it’s really hard to draw a chilli in a way that doesn’t look like a kid’s crude doodle, or a crude old man’s doodle.
However, the logo we have now was born from necessity, not from spending thousands with a design agency.
In 2011, BlueChilli was barely a company, but I was trying to build the impression we were something bigger. Because our mission was centred around helping startups, to help them we were also chasing corporates – and corporate startup collaboration in 2011 was non-existent in Australia.
Switching from one Highly-Paid-Consultant to another Highly-Paid-Consultant (HPC) was about as innovative as most corporates got – no one thought of doing work with a startup.
So here we were, a little startup helping other startups connect with corporates with a giant … logo. Up against the big four HPCs with their high budgets. We needed a rebrand, heck we needed a BRAND!
But here’s the thing. We were a startup. I couldn’t afford a HPC to launch a full brand strategy. I just needed something that worked, would stand out against the others and set us apart. Because we were a startup, I had a million other priorities.
By chance, I managed to get access to some heavily discounted conference floor space at a large tech conference (Cough CEBIT Cough). A double width stand, right in the center of the main area. This was a time when the conference was mainly large enterprises and corporates, with a little alley for mobile phone cover sellers.
There were no startups here.
Conferences were not cheap, they still aren’t. Large companies could spend hundreds of thousands building massive multi level structures, with built in dining areas, interactive displays and custom meeting rooms. There was a never ending cycle to build the biggest stand, have the flashiest display and the frenchiest champagne available – a race to the top to stand out against one’s competitors. There was no way, when even carpet tiles cost $3k, that I could compete. But yet, being there was a great way to prove that we were at one with the big players.
The need to stand out from the crowd
Out of necessity, I came up with the idea of doing the opposite. They all went up – I stayed down. They built massive structures – I would have nothing. They would have a mini-restaurant – I would have a couch. I went super minimal. A white couch in front of a white wall with a BIG BlueChilli logo written on the back. In my mind, this would make us stand out, and would look elegant by contrast to the large structures surrounding me.
It was a perfect idea but there was one big problem… the logo.
Of course, I left it to the last minute. Five minutes before the artwork cutoff time was due to the organisers (who were printing the banner), I realised I hadn’t changed it yet – so… I did. The BlueChilli logo took all of 5 minutes. All I did was:
- Did a Google image search for “chillI”,
- found a shape I liked,
- turned it into a vector using Illustrator’s “Live trace” feature,
- filled the middle bit with Cyan and 1% key, and
- bolded font, Helvetica
Five minutes and I’d completed a re-branding strategy that perfectly encompassed who we were.
The next week, we exhibited. And while there are things I would do differently now, we landed a few major contracts following that conference, I’d like to think our strategy worked.
The essence of BlueChilli
A brand represents the people in a company. And in the space of these five minutes, I managed to capture the essence of what BlueChilli is.
At BlueChilli we’re creative, we’re curious and we’re courageous. We’re helping startup founders fulfil their life’s journey.
Our logo represents the humble beginnings of our own journey and is a constant reminder of who we serve.
Our logo was creative solution to a hard challenge where we didn’t have the budget needed to compete against the vast sums of money our competitors had. It was born of the courage of going after the Highly-Paid-Consultants and a challenge which perfectly sums up the journey of the startup, and of what BlueChilli does and who BlueChilli is today