By Ollie Strang, Product Designer
Now going strong for 15 years since it was started by Carl Harroch, Londroid is the oldest Android community meetup in London.
It’s a place for Android developers to come together and connect, and it’s a way for Novoda to stay connected to our origins as an agency at the forefront of Android development.
I’m a self-taught designer, so I know first-hand how important professional communities are for building relationships and supporting people getting started in the industry. From the start of my career, having spaces where I felt safe to ask questions that felt a bit silly or naive was invaluable.
Being able to sense-check things I hear and speak to people facing the same challenges as me has always kept me grounded in a fast-moving industry – and helped keep my imposter syndrome in check.
And so, I was delighted to take on the challenge of capturing the essence of the Londroid community in its re-brand this year.
The right time to rebrand
Before the pandemic, Londroid had grown from a small pub meetup to a 5000-member strong community. Then suddenly, as in-person events shut down, we were put on a two-year hiatus.As the world started opening up again this year and we started the journey of re-branding Novoda, it felt like the right time and place to give Londroid a new look too – and re-introduce ourselves with a new energy as we got back to hosting in-person events.
Creating a community-led brand
Our first line of research focused on figuring out the shibboleths of the Android developer community – the shorthand, in-jokes, humour and camaraderie to be found within our members’ day to day to work.
We sought to establish the values held by the community through surveys and focus groups, and create opportunities to gauge peoples’ gut reactions to our paths of exploration as we moved through the design process.
What stood out most to me during the project was Londroid members’ loyalty and emotional attachment to the Android brand. At first, our concepts strayed quite far from the visual elements people associated with Android, but the community didn’t identify with them. It became clear our goal was to create a unique yet recognisable visual twist on an established and well-loved brand – a homage, not a re-invention.
One of the things I love most about the final logo is the inclusion of the pill shape, which stemmed from an offhand reference by one of my colleagues. They were talking about this particular Android interface element and said something like: “Android developers see that more than their families.” The comment raised a few laughs, and it’s that sort of ‘wink of authenticity’ I wanted to capture within the brand. After all, communities are often about finding shared humour as much as sharing knowledge.
Knowledge, intuition and emotion: the balancing act of brand development
With any rebrand, there’ll always be an emotional attachment to what came before. Some stakeholders will struggle to reclaim a sense of ownership or connection to something new.
On one hand, we knew and accepted it would take time for everyone to embrace change – but we also wanted to ensure we weren’t going to alienate people who had been invested in Londroid for more than a decade.
That’s why, throughout the development of the brand, we checked in with our community at each stage to see what resonated. Ultimately, this gave us confidence in the final approach and was enormously valuable.
After you create a brand like Londroid, you have to hand it back to its community to own. That means balancing what you think a brand ‘should’ feel like (based on your knowledge and intuition) with your audience’s emotional response and connection.
Handing the brand back to the community
It’s been brilliant to see such genuine excitement around the new branding – one person asked if they could have the logo on socks, and that’s the biggest compliment to me!
The biggest lesson I’ve learned from this experience is that the interplay between a designer’s intuition and community response is a tricky line to walk. Especially when it comes to creating a brand which stays true to a community’s history while also introducing something new and exciting.
That said, getting into your audience’s world and seeking feedback at early stages allows you to give ownership to those who will be the brand caretakers further down the road – and that is enormously valuable in trying to strike this balance.
What’s next for Londroid?
In-person connection has been sorely missed, and I’m looking forward to seeing Londroid spread its wings with regular events throughout 2023 and beyond.
Want to join the Londroid community? Check out the Meetup page.
If you’re interested in speaking at or hosting a Londroid event, click the button below and complete the form.