Today, I’m introducing a refresh of the SimplePie logo and the most visible part of its brand. I’m calling this new branding style SimplePie Neue.
I designed the original SimplePie logo back in 2005. At the time, Web 2.0 and Ajax were brand-new things to most web developers. Mac OS X “Tiger” 10.4 was the latest OS running on my 17” PowerBook G4, and while the hard glossy feel hadn’t yet taken over the Internet, shadows and gradients definitely had.
The SimplePie logo (2005–2017)
Still to this day, I enjoy looking at this logo. I remember spending hours and hours on the colors of the gradients to get just the right look.
But times change, and so do tastes. I’d lost the original logo source years ago, and all I had left was this one PNG file. So to go with kickstarting the development of the next-generation of SimplePie, I decided it was time for a brand refresh (and I wanted to make sure I worked with vector art this time around!).
To pay homage and and honor to the well-liked and familiar SimplePie logo, I wanted to keep the primary identifying elements. But I also wanted to simplify and clean it up.
The SimplePie logo (2017–)
Just like the Apple logo in 1998, I realized that it wasn’t the unordered rainbow stripes, or the gloss of the System 7.5 variation of the logo—it was the shape itself that people identified with. Similarly, I’ve kept the major themes of the logo, while simplifying it and enabling it to scale better from tiny to large resolutions.
Part of me still looks at the depth and gradients of the original logo and misses them. But in wanting to change the personality of the SimplePie brand, I think that the change is a positive one.
SimplePie is an amalgamation of the phrase “Simple API for Magpie RSS”. Magpie RSS was the RSS parser du jour for PHP developers in 2004, and the earliest versions of SimplePie simply wrapped it.
But SimplePie has come to be (strangely and unexpectedly) a well-known bit of software over the years (I don’t believe that millions of users is an exaggeration). Like with the icon, I wanted to pay homage to the original icon and wordmark, but as I mentioned, I want to change the personality of SimplePie moving forward — particularly with SimplePie NG.
The SimplePie wordmark (2005–2017)
The original personality was fun, a little smart-aleky, and would bend over backwards to work with even the least-skilled PHP users. The font was Yanone Kaffeesatz, Bold, and the letter spacing was pulled way-in.
The new SimplePie is not designed for ye olde WordPress user. It is designed as high-quality, professional-grade software for PHP Software Engineers. I intend for its peers to be Guzzle, Symfony, AWS SDK for PHP, Monolog, and other professional-grade software packages. And with all of this intended professionalism, there isn’t as much room for goofing off. SimplePie NG is more smart and less -aleky. And it will still help you out, but you need to understand your fundamentals. And no, it’s probably not going to work with your crappy $3/mo shared hosting plan.
The SimplePie wordmark (2017–)
The first thing you’ll probably notice is the typeface change to SF Pro Display, Medium—the newest (2017) version of Apple’s San Francisco typeface that it uses throughout its products and on its website. The letter spacing is still pulled-in, but much less so than before.
I also added the “ɴԍ” using the following glyphs: LATIN LETTER SMALL CAPITAL N, and CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER KOMI SJE. I made them about 45% smaller than the rest of the text, centered them horizontally, and left the same amount of space around the word “SimplePie”.
Switching to San Francisco Pro gives the logo a cleaner, more professional look while still maintaining the overall spirit of the original logo. It’s like looking at one of those makeover shows on TV.
I’m planning to do a complete reboot of the website when SimplePie NG ships its 1.0 release. While you will begin seeing the Neue branding here and on GitHub, look for a freshly-redesigned website with the new feel when 1.0 gets tagged and released to Composer.