Contributed by Kit Paul, founding partner of Bucharest-based Brandient.
At Brandient, as brand designers, we are mainly focused on how things work. Is the identification work accurate? Are the symbols used differentiated for the consumer? Can the payload of meanings be turned into a potent internal instrument for modeling the organization’s ethos? Is the brand efficiently hard-wired to its Romanian origin? Looks are important, but the strategic design mechanics are more so.
We worked with Bitdefender, creator of Internet security and antivirus software, for two years in order to be able to answer these questions with yes, yes, yes, and yes.
Here is a short making-of video:
The brand foundation is the legendary symbol of the Dacian Dragon-Wolf. Half wolf, half serpent, this totemic creature guarded the Dacian people in their wars and has come to stand for resilient defense. The modern interpretation of the ancient symbol completes the brand promise with sleekness, making the brand relevant to digital society while clearly asserting its Romanian roots. I won’t talk about the design difficulties related to the decision of rebuilding a link with our past at 20 years after the bloodiest anti-communist revolution in Europe. It is too vast a subject for this time and place.
This archetypal symbol was given two shapes, for the two purposes it needs to accomplish: a 3D avatar, for establishing a bond with the consumers’ minds, and a highly abstracted symbol focused on encapsulating the edge and energy of the Dragon-Wolf, more than its shape, for representing the new chapter in the history of the Bitdefender organization.
The brand avatar is the consumer-facing side of the identity, epitomising the sleek qualities of the product, and it’s designed to keep evolving in time:
Avatar genesis: from a drawing of the Dacian Draco to its cyber-descendant:
The main vector for the brand avatar is the package. Here’s a small part of the package design process:
And the final package design:
The symbol needed to be abstract enough and open to interpretation in order to be able to talk to a highly intelligent organization of young, extremely competitive people, so we approached the design process almost as we were designing for a hi-tech sports equipment company instead of a software one.
Dragon-Wolf symbol very early explorations (the working scenario at the time was that of a flexible identity):
But we weren’t differentiated enough — design-wise it was a direction that might have led to something viable, but it kept failing branding-wise. Too obvious and not insightful enough. So we restarted from scratch, trying to depict the mysterious beast via its absence:
We found ambiguity fertile: the symbol works as a pretext that gives room to questions, stories and personal interpretation for people unfamiliar with its Dacian origin and it comes with a new angle for people conversant with its cultural roots. Then the contour was reduced and then reduced some more — removing all explicative pieces — to the very essence of compressed spring energy and darting movement:
The line modulation of the symbol is compensated for small and/or reverse applications using subtle optical adjustments and ink-traps:
For the wordmark we chose to go custom in order to be able to deliver consistent edge and severity, and the glyphs were rendered and then adjusted with these objectives in mind:
Icon versions and a look and feel test (in a Mac dock, I know, that’s were the early tests were):
Many wallpapers were designed for Bitdefender offices, here is the tongue-in-cheek “Trophy Wall” with the most (in)famous bugs Bitdefender squashed during the years:
Neither branding nor design are destinations, but journeys and this is only the first step, the direction, the beginning. The best things are to come. Thank you.