Ankr

A leading silicon valley blockchain startup revitalizes its brand identity, messaging, and website in just 4 weeks.

A sketch of two hands reaching out toward another

Welcome to the Cloud Renaissance.

Founded on the passion of building a more open cloud ecosystem, Ankr is a two-year-old startup building a cloud platform for the rest of us. By allowing anyone with idle servers to monetize them or rent out spare compute resources to developers, small businesses, and enterprises.

Ankr’s cross border payments between users and providers are facilitated by their ANKR crypto token. This helps level the playing field and economic barriers to using cloud services across the globe.

The concept of the Cloud Renaissance came from the team’s mission to empower innovators with tools to move the human race forward, making cloud computing accessible to anyone.

A sketch of the fundamental form of the ankr logo

Everything starts with identity.

Ankr had some important opportunities coming up in just five weeks from when we first engaged with the founders. The team was mostly focused on building the product and needed additional firepower to quickly build out a new marketing website. Though the founders knew they needed a new marketing website, they were skeptical of needing to invest in branding and identity at this stage of the business.

For us, to successfully deliver any design work, we believe it’s essential to build on a solid foundation of identity. After auditing their existing assets, we saw an opportunity to solidify the identity of Ankr.

Ankr's old design system with gradient icons and 3D illustrations

Week 1 — Discover

We kicked off the project by flying to Ankr's office in San Francisco. There we conducted stakeholder interviews and went through our Identity Architecture workshop to better understand their positioning and develop strong messaging for the marketing website. This would serve as the foundation for all decisions moving forward.

An image of San Francisco from the Bay
A view of a San Francisco street from Ankr's office
Ankr's team laying out their traits on sticky cards on glass
Ankr's understanding of their anchor points and strengths
Ankr's team looking through the glass board as they organize their strengths
Ankr's team evaluating their anchor points
John and Troy from a small studio, along with the Ankr team.

Week 2 — Define

Building a more obtainable brand.

One of Ankr's major pain points was their messaging. Because they operate in a highly cluttered industry filled with technical jargon, a more accessible voice was a top priority. Collaboration with the client was key to ensure we translated their expert knowledge appropriately. Keeping a living document open so everyone could contribute proved to be crucial in the short timeline as it allowed for rapid iteration and feedback.

We then dove into research to establish a new visual language. Coupled with the CEO's love for fine art, we saw a strong connection between the artists and inventors of the Italian Renaissance and the developers and innovators of today. We explored oil paintings, sculptures, architecture, and the processes in which these beautiful works of art were created. Ultimately, it was the sketches and notes from the likes of Leonardo Da Vinci that gave us our eureka moment.

A content outline developed for the home page of their new website's story.
Images of renaissance artwork arranged in a moodboard

Week 3 — Develop

Crafting a paradigm shift.

These sketches provided a much needed human element to the brand and would prove to be a key element in standing out from the clutter in the industry. They also provided the opportunity to include handwritten notes pulled from their whitepaper.

As we developed the illustrations, we knew the logomark and supporting brand elements would need to be refined to be more consistent and in line with their new visual language.

A sketch of renaissance architecture, surrounded by server infrastructure icons and overlaid with handwritten notes.
A sketch of two hands reaching for each other with Ankr's logo in the center.
A prespective sketch of servers networked to laptops with overlaid handwriting.
A prespective sketch showing servers relating to blockchain networks with overlaid handwriting.
A sketch of a map with blocks placed around the world
A sketch of San Francisco
A sketch of Shanghai

Visual evolution.

Before and after. Conceptually, the original logomark was one of the brand's key strengths. As a real object, an anchor is easy to remember. It stands for strength, dependability, and setting precedence, making it a perfect match for the brand. The construction, however, needed some refinement to make the brand more approachable and allow it to scale as they continue to grow. Simplifying the use of color, as well as subtle improvements in balance and sharpness made a huge difference without compromising brand equity.

Supporting brand elements were updated to make for a more consistent and inviting visual language.

Ankr's vibrant but refined color pallete using primary and secondary colors that are saturated but not extremely bright.
Typography using IBM Plex
IBM Plex Sans used in a cascading set of sizes for heirarchy
Inputs and buttons in varying states and color treatments
Header components for Ankr's site with clear navigation
Elements from Ankr's site including expanding FAQ sections

Week 4 — Distribute

With the deadline soon approaching, we presented the preliminary designs, and thanks to our constant contact with the client, no major changes were requested. Now it was time to refine and polish.

Once we finalized the design, we worked closely with Ankr's development team to ensure it was faithfully executed in the digital experience.

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a small studio helped reveal the value of our company and deliver our marketing materials in a couple of days. As a startup co-founder, I wish I knew about them back when I first started my fundraising.

Stanley Wu
CTO and Co-founder of Ankr