The Helmet and Cross-Palms
January 18, 2023
Just before the holiday break, Privateer unveiled our new logo.
Something like this doesn't make front-page headlines, as much as brands may wish it would. But for Privateer, it was a really big and special moment.
From the beginning, we've set out to think outside the space brand box. Our unique culture and brand personality have shown through in many ways, but the logo had us stuck for quite some time. How does a company land on one single image that represents its essence, stands out in the market, and also serves a wide range of practical purposes?
It's a hell of a challenge, and we're really lucky to have had just the person for the job.
Shaun O'Brien has been responsible for a lot of the beautiful Privateer branding you've seen over the course of the last year. But he really outdid himself with this striking new logo to take us into 2023. Rather than speak for his work, I wanted to take this opportunity to share his talent and perspective with you all.
So without further ado, a brief Q&A on our new look with Privateer's creative genius!
What drew you to working with Privateer?
Cool sounding name. Space. Wozniak. Hawaii. Where do I sign up?
But really—it was an incredible opportunity to work alongside some brilliant people doing amazing things for the future of humanity. And as a creative, it’s always an exciting challenge to develop a brand from the ground up. I’m so grateful for the trust that Privateer’s leadership has instilled in me throughout the process.
What was your goal with this brand/logo update?
Many space companies stick to really undifferentiated branding with overused metaphors like swooping motions, orbits, rockets, etc. Not much attention is paid to branding at all, in fact, from what I've seen. Graphics and photography are very literal representations of “what they do,” not “who they are.”
We realized we had a huge opportunity to set Privateer apart by not relying on the same generic concepts that are replicated across so many other companies. Our goal was to create a logo that was distinct and memorable. Something that invoked emotion, curiosity, and intrigue.
What was the process like? A slow grind to get to the final product, or did it hit in one moment of inspiration?
A little bit of both. It was a slow grind until our “aha” moment. After that, things moved pretty quickly.
From the beginning, we knew we wanted a logo, but other things took priority. We tossed around ideas, but nothing really stuck. Our "aha" moment was partly in response to how much people enjoyed the astronaut graphics we were using in other marketing communications. But the astronaut by itself still felt generic as a logo. The real epiphany was when we introduced the crossing palms—it connected everything together, and gave context and meaning to the name “Privateer.”
Are you willing to share any scrapped work or dead ends you hit?
We went pretty far down a path using a Hawaiian sea turtle peeking up from under the water looking at the stars. The initial reactions were underwhelming, and we weren’t totally sold on it ourselves, so that’s when we changed course and went back to the drawing board.
Anything else you want to share?
I’m just so grateful for the opportunity to work with such a cool company and with so many smart and kind people from such different backgrounds. I’ve learned a ton over this past year, and I’m excited to continue building the brand!
You can probably tell that it's hard to get Shaun to pat himself on the back, so I'll add a bit more here to do that for him. The thought he puts into the design, what it means, how people will respond, and how it will come to life, is a joy to observe. The fun part, then, is of course watching how the brand can come to life in a variety of formats. Here are some of the mock-ups he shared, which make me absolutely giddy about putting the logo to use this year.
I hope the work we're doing here helps push the entire industry forward. We've already been seeing other recent brand updates that are transforming the look and feel of the space space in wonderful ways, and we couldn't be more thrilled. Let's keep making space cool again!