The Tomahawk online music player is an exciting alternative to the likes of iTunes or even Winamp (going back a bit), which allows for a level of social-interactivity that I’ve only seen the Spotify app come close to. It’s a multi-source online music player, with the ‘sources’ being both files stored locally on the hard-drive and online resources such as Spotify, Grooveshark, Youtube and Last.fm to name but a few. Currently open-source, it’s available on Windows, Mac and Linux.
A couple of months ago I installed it on the mac to check out the positive reviews I’d been reading on Mashable and Wired, and was pleasantly surprised! I rely on iTunes for managing my (currently 75,224 tracks) music collection, but it’s become this all-encompassing and sluggish behemoth – Tomahawk feels so much quicker, more fluid and responsive to a search of album or artist. Leaving it at that so as not to make this an app review, I was tasked with bringing the Tomahawk brand up-to-date. The existing logo was by no means bad, but it had issues with small-scale legibility and potential political-correctness complaints.
My first inclination was to draw the concept right back to basics. What is the Tomahawk? How and for what purpose was it used? And by Whom?
These questions had the easy answers – the Tomahawk is a universal tool, one that can be used in a variety of ways. In many cultures it was the multi-purpose tool, the one and only item people would carry to assist in almost any situation. Already it is clear the reasoning behind the name choice to fit the app’s purpose. The significance and strength of the concept in this case I felt deserved quite a literal take on the visual shape of the Tomahawk. A straight-handed, sharp, triangular symbol began to take form in my head, combined with the circular outline based on the pre-existing headphone section of the logo.
Looking to the visual UI of the app itself for inspiration, my eyes were immediately drawn to the icons present within the control. Universally recognised as a shape that designates ‘play’ or ‘start’ and nearly always associated with media. It’s on most remote controls, in nearly all media players, on all CD players and radios – it’s ingrained in people’s minds already.
Sometimes as a designer, you can feel in your gut when you’re onto something, you know your on the right lines. This was one of those times. Looking at how everything came together so cleanly, with both meaning and simplicity all wrapped up in one symbol is what I enjoy about designing logos.
Balancing everything to allow for the extremities of size and legibility took a while, but it was essential for a recognisable shape to remain intact down to the smaller, pixel levels of UI design.
Finding a complementary font involved looking at the weight of the logomark and it’s mix of round and sharp. The initial suggestions of Unisect bold and Platelet were put forward, but rejected as being too ’round’, so the search for a sharper tailed, geometrically-based sans-serif, with humanist curves, was on…
Potential alternatives included one I use in my own printed branding – Avenir, alongside options of DIN Next LT Pro and Proxima Nova, which was ultimately chosen. It’s a font I always enjoy working with and really suits the project; to quote the font’s description:
Proxima Nova straddles the gap between typefaces like Futura and Akzidenz Grotesk. The result is a hybrid combining humanistic proportions with a somewhat geometric appearance.
I’m really happy with the outcome, it fits the brief and the app to a ‘T’, bringing the brand a fresh, bold feel. More images of the Tomahawk brand can be seen here.
What do you think? Does the feel of what I’ve created fit the app?