Crafting a Unique Identity for the SendGrid Design Team

In creating our identity, we wanted to pay homage to our core brand while also pushing the boundaries with something unique.

Back in 2016, SendGrid proudly released its first major rebrand in years. Led by our marvelously talented Manager of Creative, Evan Huwa, we were able to take our outdated logo and come away with a brand that represented our company’s unique vision to be the world’s most trusted communications platform. You can read all about Evan and the creative team’s process throughout the rebrand here.

Because so much thought and care went into SendGrid’s brand, we wanted to honor it while crafting a brand for our design team, which would make its debut with the launch of At the same time, we also wanted to take this opportunity to create a unique identity for ourselves, so we needed to find the right balance between our core brand and something that stretched our boundaries a bit. We are designers, after all—our creative energy cannot be contained!

We started noodling on logo ideas awhile back when we first had the idea to create a content hub for our team. We played with a lot of different concepts in these early stages; we actually had a team “hackathon” (we do these quarterly—they are super fun) and a few of us spent the day throwing a lot of different branding ideas at the wall.

A few different initial passes at the logo

We were all excited by the idea of riffing off of the shape and structure of the SendGrid logo.

Some ideas stuck; others didn’t. But one theme that began to emerge was the idea of vamping on the simplistic shapes that make up SendGrid’s logo while introducing some edge that made it unique to us as a team. We played with color; we experimented with skewing the SendGrid squares; we tried different blending modes on the colored shapes to create vibrant colors in the overlap. After spending some time with our more experimental concepts, we began to refine the designs to help us hone in on what represented our team best.

More iterations on the logo that skew the shape of our core brand logo

We continued to experiment with different shapes and palettes.

We were getting closer, but it began to feel that in our creative expedition, we had strayed too far from our core brand. We didn’t want to lose any of the brand equity that came with the SendGrid name, and the abstract logo paired with a different color palette felt too detached from our roots. We wanted to reel it back in a bit.

For awhile, we were mocking out pages with the core SendGrid logo appended with the word “design.” It got the point across—”this is SendGrid’s design blog”—but it was clear no one was terribly excited by the idea of using an unaltered version of the SendGrid mark. We still craved some designer-y ✨spark✨.

The idea for what would become the logo came to us when we weren’t looking for it. I was browsing the interwebs reading about some nerdy design stuff—as I do—when I saw the fill/stroke icon out of the context of the design tool that it usually calls home. As you are probably aware, dear reader, the fill/stroke icon looks a little something like this…

Fill/stroke icon used in design tools

This icon is used across a plethora of design tools to adjust the fill and stroke of an object.

Seeing this icon without its other icons pals crowded around it made me think to myself, “Well golly, that sure does look similar to the SendGrid logo, doesn’t it?”

I mocked up a rough version of the idea and showed it to the team. They liked it. 🎉 We flipped the fill/stroke icon to match the shape of the SendGrid logo, lightened the weight of the “stroke”, and tinkered with different colors in our existing brand palette.

Our fill/stroke logo idea with different color and fill treatments

We had a lot of colors in our SendGrid palette that we could leverage for the logo.

We came up with the idea to have our logo change color subtly, triggered by some interaction on the site, to give it a little flair (did you notice it?). But in seeing this wide gamut of colors, we decided transitioning through all of them might be too distracting. So, we moved forward with the idea but leveraged only the different hues of blue from our palette.

Our final logo in four different hues of blue

Our blues felt really close to home and tied our design brand back into our core brand.

Our awesome developer, Rich, mocked up the logo interaction so we could get a sense for how it would feel to transition through the blues, and in seeing the mock, we knew we had found our logo.

After lots of fun experimentation, we finally landed on something that captured the essence of our passionate design team while still paying homage back to our core brand. It was a super fun challenge and we’re excited to release it out into the world with the launch of!