Inkling began as a digital publishing startup, working with publishers to create and sell interactive digital textbooks. Shortly after I joined the company, Inkling shifted to a B2B SaaS business-model, offering cloud-based content creation and distribution software for businesses. We needed to differentiate our new enterprise offering, Inkling Axis, from our former consumer business. My team was asked to develop the icon for the Inkling Axis app in the Apple and Google Play stores.
Although not a white-labeled app, the Inkling Axis app UI does change dynamically to match customer branding. Our hypothesis was that in order to help our customers drive adoption of the app, the icon needed to be perceived as a neutral portal with minimal branding of its own. Based on this, I created a simple geometric pattern building off of the Inkling brand identity. This pattern became the basis of the icon design as well as the UI for the app login screens.
Successful launch of Inkling Axis app, used by more than 300 companies and 100,000 people worldwide.
We started our discovery process by reviewing the existing marks within the Inkling brand—the Inkling consumer app icon, and the icon for our content authoring software, Inkling Habitat. We knew that our 7-color spectrum would play into our explorations, as well as the basic geometry of the Habitat icon.
In our initial sketches, we explored the concept behind the word “axis”—the idea that Inkling provided a stable core upon which customers could build interconnected, scalable digital content. That concept started to manifest visually as connectivity and wayfinding. We realized that Inkling Axis was not only the way for users to find the content they need, but also the reliable core that ensured the accuracy, timeliness, and relevancy of that content.
We landed on three directions for the icon:
Although the first direction had the elements of a system that could extend to meet future Inkling products, the third direction was chosen for the final icon. Number three is bright, indentifiable as Inkling while still remaining generic per the needs of the app, and extensible such that the pattern could be used for the in-app UI. I refined the colors and worked with product to implement the final design.
Design: Chloë Dalby, Darren Wong
Creative Direction: Anne Donnard
VP, Design: Peter Cho
VP, Marketing: Hema Padhu