Bvckup blog. Assorted notes on the design of fast real-time backup software.

Bvckup started its life as a small copying utility that I wrote for my own use and back then it was going under the name of JustCopy. Despite its spartan interface and hard-coded configuration that early version proved to be useful. It was a solid prototype of a real product, and a real product needed a name.

Read on to learn how the app got its name and the logo.

Name is the first impression

Naming a product is hard, and naming it well is really hard. Name is frequently the first thing someone learns about the product, and this first impression - it really lasts, and it’d better be absolutely spot on.

Consider, an example:

I can call it a dinner spoon or I can call it a “soup delivering apparatus №2”. Which one sets a better tone for introducing a one-of-a-kind designer product?

Exactly :)

Making it memorable

Good names generally have strong concepts behind them. A concept may be as effective at making the name stick in a memory as hammering it into people’s heads with brand awareness campaigns. Repetition surely works, but so does the originality.

μTorrent for a really light BitTorrent client - that’s a very good name. But Voldemort for a distributed storage — this is a raw genius.

Examples are aplenty, and yet the product naming remains more of an art form rather than anything else. Its practicing artisans wield exotic tools like Swahili dictionaries and Scrabble tiles and not shying away from charging towards 10-20K per project.

As much as I wanted to try this route, it was clearly an overkill for a file copying tool.

DIY naming

The first step in the naming endeavor is to write down a bunch of words describing product’s core function and sprinkle with adjectives describing its attributes. Then stir and combine, see what comes out and go with the associations.

Here’s how it worked for Bvckup.

Function:

backup, copy, clone, replicate, mirror, sync

Attribute:

light, small, simple, intelligent, fast

With these as a starting point, started mixing and after a while arrived at the first option:

Small   ›   Nano   ›   Micro (courtesy of uTorrent)    ›  uBackup   ›   Buckup

Buckup was a complete LOL, of course, and yet it had something. It was short, it was surely memorable and it had a direct link to the nature of the program — something that is used to prevent data #uck-ups.

Set it aside and continued. The second take was through the simplicity angle:

Simple   ›   Trivial   ›   Vulgar   ›   Backupus Vulgaris   ›   Bvlgaris   ›   Bvckup

Now this was interesting. Not as rude as the first option, but as short and as closely related to the backup word.

It also had neat typographic properties. V is a flipped over A and it has a basic form of a shield. V is also pointy so it can be shaped into an arrow, and arrows are good, they capture the motion and agility aspect.

Validating the idea

It was time to run the idea by other people, see if it holds up.

For that it really helps to know places where people are not shying away from giving real critique. One such place is a stable and thoughtful community over at Typophile forums, and the Corporate ID Design forum specifically.

The Bvckup thread is at http://typophile.com/node/54931 and the responses show that the #uck-up reference was still a bit too strong. That however was something that could be offset by means of visual design.

Wordmarks

I am a very big proponent of simple logotypes, and best among these are wordmarks. Take the name, set in a standard font and then tweak it to achieve a distinct look and desired feel.

For example, here is Landor’s, the branding agency behind lots and lots of identity work:

Or this:

Or this:

Still unconvinced? :) Head over to David Pache’s excellent collection of 100 Brands of Interest and see how many of the brands are wordmarks. Parts two and three are here and here respectively.

In any case, back to Earth.

Developing the idea

With V being a focus element of the name, it was only natural to build the customization around it. The pointy shape of the V suggested an arrow and a bit of doodling on a paper yielded these two:

Further varying this and that in both designs led to a larger set of options:

Now it was just a matter of selecting a symbol that matched the target feel of the logo the best. This involved just sitting there, staring at the screen and subjectively sorting designs by their appropriateness for the task.

Anything with the sharp pointy angles was a no-go. Asymmetrical designs were inferior to those with symmetry, and smooth curves looked better than straight and jointed lines.

The result

After a day or so of intense staring the option at the top left appeared to be the best choice and after a bit more tweaking to smooth its outer angles, the mark was done.

It’s a V and a flipped over A. It’s a shield and it’s an arrow referring to stashing or bolting things down. It is also a very simple and distinct symbol in its own right that works nicely as an application icon.

Almost a year after someone pointed out that V doubled as a flipped over Greek letter Δ. Delta reference is of some significance because it’s the delta copying what gives Bvckup its mind-boggling speed.

In any case, there you have it - from a list of nouns and adjectives to the name and from your ol’ Gotham to the product logo. From start to finish - in about one month.