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Ode to a logo (or “You changed the what?!”)

Emily Miller
Emily Miller

Today, a new chapter in our story begins—one that meets the urgent challenges and opportunities of our time. We are expanding what NetApp means to you. Today, a new chapter in our story begins—one that meets the urgent challenges and opportunities of our timeWe are expanding what NetApp means to the marketplace, in an age of COVID and customer digital transformation mandates, building on our more than 25 years of data storage leadership and extending it to cloud.  

As part of that process, we are launching a new look, tone, and feel, including moving away from NetApp blue – Pantone 300 – and making our logo all one color, black. 

What does this change give us?  A cleaner, more contemporary look, and a freer, more flexible way to bring in color, imagery, and animation. See for yourself in this identity reel. I hope you’ll agree: it’s incredibly cool.


Yet, I’ll confess, the shift is hitting me a little harder than I anticipated. didn’t expect to feel such a personal attachment to the color of a logo.     I first saw the “blue N” in August 2007, two years before I joined the company. I was a brand consultantNetApp was my client, and the “blue N” was one of 6 concepts we presented to CEO staff – including Dave and James, the founders. We all gravitated to the storytelling aspect of the shape. Is it a gateway? A platform? A pair of boxer shorts? The possibilities were endless….  

We never proposed that NetApp could own blue from a design standpoint (because, look around at the big legacy tech brands), but rather that we could play with the symbol as a hero, as a super graphic, as a window – and we could make that NetApp.  

Over time, however, the blue has been embraced by employees, customers, and partners alike as a core part of NetApp’s identity. For example – if you are familiar with Movember, men at NetApp have dyed their beards and goatees blue and shaped them like the symbol and sent me pictures. We felt a lot of pride in the blue. 

So, earlier this year, when our agency shared look and feel concepts as part of a larger repositioning effort, and I noticed they kept changing our mark from blue to blackI kept telling the team, put it back! It wasn’t only because the switching costs of making even a simple color change in a corporate environment are a pain in the you know whatIt was also because that blue was core to so much of what we held dear at NetApp - our big blue N structures at events, the crisp monument signage on Crossman Avenue, the consistent jewel across our universe of touchpoints. To make that little change would have a big impact, emotional as well as logistical 

But one day this past May, after we’d looked at final concepts with the all-black logo that the team and agency kept nudging, I found myself in my basement swearing up a blue streak as I ripped wet laundry from the washer and vigorously threw each soggy item into the dryer.  

Why was I so mad?  

I’m normally someone who embraces change. The truth is, I hate sitting still. But let’s see – we’re living through a global pandemic that has fundamentally changed how we live for the foreseeable future. I happen to be in the middle of a COVID-extended remodel, so I am living in my childhood home with my husbandmy (now) Zoom-schooled nine-year-old twins and my 79-year father.  

Was I really upset about losing the blue? Or was the color-change bringing up something else? Maybe changing the blue – which has been such a constant, reliable part of my life – was surfacing feelings about so much of the change that is being forced upon me, at this moment. 

took a deep breath, stopped taking my anger out on the laundry, and thought about the presentation I’d just seen, in a world of new and exciting possibilities. I thought about the past 11 years managing PMS 300 and how when I really step back, have to admit that using that blue in our symbol is limiting. It looks a bit dated and old-school corporate. 

So I texted my boss. He knows that sometimes I have to have a fit, curse the sky, and take a deep break before I can move on. I told him that I was on-boardas long as we wouldn’t try to change any monument signage during a lock-down. He texted back that yes, it was time to move forward. And so we have. 

Welcome to our new NetApp identity. I love it – and I hope you do too! 

Because, this is what brands are and what their symbols represent - emotional connectionsWhen a symbol generates love and positive feeling, you know you've done your job. But brands and their identity systems are meant to live and breathe. They cannot be too static, too templated. When you find yourself falling into the “matchy-pooh” trap with your look, you know it is time to change. 

I want to thank the original Landor crew, all the agencies, former managers, new and long-time teammates and colleagues who have helped shepherd this brand over the past decade. And a special thank you to our new agency partner, Mother, who has shown me that change is okay 

For those who’d like a memento, have a box of Pantone 300 paint chips in my cube. I know I will have one up on my magnet board at home – that is, whenever can get back into the office (and when my remodel is done) 😉. 

Emily Miller

Emily leads Brand Experience for NetApp. She’s focused on driving NetApp’s reputation as a cloud storage leader in the market through brand and content strategy, creative leadership, sponsorship programs and digital/live experiences. With experience on both client and agency side, from small start-up to global conglomerate, Emily brings a down-to-earth approach combined with creativity and humor to get things done. She has a BA in History from Yale and an MBA from the UC Berkeley/Haas School of Business.

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