November 17, 2015 - No Comments!

Behind the Mail Pilot Branding

maritime pilot helps ship captains maneuver through difficult or congested waters. Mail Pilot helps you maneuver through the difficult and congested waters of your inbox.

As a captain, when you need a maritime pilot on board, you raise a “Signal G” flag. Once the pilot is on board, you raise a “Signal H” flag, which is half red, half white.

And so you have the Mail Pilot branding, red sails on a white field.

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We didn’t originally create the Mail Pilot brand with this metaphor; we applied it later.

Initially, I was word mapping, and went down this path: “Burn down your inbox” > “burn” > “fire” > “light”> “pilot light” > “pilot” > “copilot” > “aviator”. Initially, I used “Aviator” as the name. After a while, I used “Copilot Mail” but eventually landed on “Mail Pilot” which really seemed to stick.

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After our Kickstarter, we wanted to appeal to the productivity-ists and early adopters in tech. We thought the imagery of space exploration would evoke that sense, so the first icon was an astronaut’s pin.

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After a fantastic public launch, we got a call from Apple, who worked with us quite a bit more than we expected. Wondering if the impending iOS launch would be featured, we contemplated the need for Mail Pilot’s branding to appeal to a wider audience. When I was sketching a few random new directions out, the sails formed, and I really liked them; they’re more approachable, simpler, and evoke a sense of calm. It also, coincidentally, had a stronger metaphor to the name.

With that new metaphor, we got to leverage new nautical themes, like “#SetSail” on Twitter, and “Anchors Aweigh” on the launch button in the app’s onboarding. Finally, we’ve also put together thematic posters for the office.

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Published by: Alex Obenauer in Product Design

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