Creating Skyral – people-first graphic design for an AI business

There are the projects where I meet a client and think – ‘yes, this makes sense to me, I can see what we’d be able to do here’. That’s often because it’s in an industry we know well, or the brief is very straightforward. Then again, there’s the piece of work where what’s required, its end product and how we’d get there is clear, but the industry or premise is nothing short of out of the blue. This is the story of the latter.

This project, for data fusion, visualisation, and simulation specialists Skyral is in a sense completely creatively contrary. Their technology is so sophisticated, I don’t know if I would have been shocked if I had been told halfway through that we were out of a job and their systems had advanced sufficiently to auto-generate the new branding simply by being asked nicely. But I am glad to say that it was indeed created by hand, very much a case of totally custom graphic design for an AI business.

Skyral works at the cutting-edge intersection of software development, artificial intelligence and data modelling. They work for governments and enterprise clients in fields as diverse as energy, telecoms, and financial services.

Not easily categorised or explained, Skyral has been an intense project that required a simple yet beautiful end result. This is how we got there.

graphic design for AI business

The identity for Skyral, including the product sub-brands using the graphic language we developed

Blue sky thinking

We began the Skyral branding project under very different skies: it was July 2023 as we agreed to work together. At that point the team were part of gaming and metaverse technology company Improbable, but given their specific mix of expertise it had been decided to ‘carve out’ Skyral as a standalone enterprise.

In fact this is far from the first time we’ve worked on a carve-out. The first of these was back in 2020, for Investcorp-Tages, and then in 2022 we completed a similar piece of work for Veld Capital. So in terms of tackling this as a project, particularly having a singular brand look in contrast with the former parent company, the principle was a familiar one. But that was as far as it went.

We spent August and September working on a wide ranging series of ideas for the company identity. The concepts we created and showed the team are among the most varied we’ve ever proposed for a branding project. But deciding the outcome took time. In truth for a carve-out, this process is often discomfiting by definition. In each case, the team have been used to things looking a certain way and abrupt, deliberate knee-jerk change is radical.

We go through this process multiple times a year for businesses of all sizes, so it’s one that I feel entirely comfortable shepherding through all the different choices and ultimately decisions. Keeping a level head goes a long way during a project of this kind. As I am fond of saying and perhaps should stitch on to a wall-hanging tapestry or print on a tea towel: every wrong answer is the signpost to the right one.

So… what was this right answer? It ended up as one of those logos that I would describe as an iceberg: apparently simple above the surface, with all the hard work initially unseen. Often brand logos of this kind are shown in isolation without context or the wider work that has gone into them, which (in high-profile brand projects anyway) can lead to crazed tabloid headlines. Thankfully we are now some months down the track, with a vast amount of work complete and a total branding scheme launched as part of the new Skyral website.

The beginning of the brand, icon and logo design work is the primary ‘mother’ concept, which then splits into sub-brands for each of their products, then comes to life in living (very carefully considered) colour, over a series of brand graphics which range in size and scope, both static and animated.

Custom brand photography for Skyral by Steve Lancefield

graphic design for AI business

Brand implementation for Skyral – a great example of powerful graphic design for AI business

Clear sky

It’s sometimes the case that the first visual manifestation of a new branding scheme is the website. That’s fine of course as it’s the ideal road test: both beautiful and impactful. However, in this case the first time we saw the Skyral logo in the wild was… on a hoodie. Peak tech.

Skyral also commissioned tee shirts, coffee cups, water bottles and office signage, all of which bear the new branding. It was incredibly satisfying working in three dimensions where so often we only see printed or physical-branded manifestations of the work we do months or sometimes years down the track.

Skyral also commissioned tee shirts, coffee cups, water bottles and inevitably office signage, all of which bear the new branding. It was incredibly satisfying working in three dimensions where so often we only see printed or physical-branded manifestations of the work we do months or sometimes years down the track.

In fact the first digital manifestation of the project wasn’t the website either, rather we worked on a vital investor deck in Google Slides. Working with real content rather than conceptual, empty pages is often the best way of creating a presentation deck. By designing the introduction, tables, information graphics and hierarchy of type in a practical application we find that principles are developed that can then be stratified. The useful endgame of that piece of work was then crystallised into a series of presentation templates for all Skyral’s client-facing communications.

graphic design for AI business
graphic design for AI business

Web design for Skyral – a great example of powerful graphic design for AI business

Sky’s the limit

Given hoodies, water bottles and flow diagrams had all been crossed off the list, by the time we got around to the website design it felt like the logical conclusion rather than the vanguard of Skyral. Added to which, we’ve ended up launching the site in two phases, meaning the branding and web design for this tech business had been considered from end to end.

There are a number of really seriously cool elements to this site. I think my favourite might be the way in which the logo splits in two and the Skyral icon floats down the left hand side, overlaying the content and branding every section.

By the time we’d worked on the layout, we’d used a grid of cubes with soft edges to create a ‘Skyral brand alphabet’ which created icons for each of the products and a set of web graphics. This distinctive grid, with its mix of sharp/curves, then began to unfold into a more organic series of sections which we overlaid images and video across the site.

Right up until the end of the design, we’d only used stock-bought visuals for the site. However, satisfyingly, ahead of the final launch of the full site pagination, we spent a day at Skyral’s City of London offices shooting custom brand photography of the space and the team with our long-time collaborator Steve Lancefield. The idea was that particularly for the headshots, careers and about sections of the site we’d capture Skyral’s people working, thinking and interacting as a team. Key to this was the style of these shots we’d imagined, capturing their people informally in the texture of their working environments.

The end result is a people-first, carefully thought out piece of graphic design for an AI business.

Skyral’s branding is a distillation of the ways of working and processes we know best, applied to a cutting-edge technology company. This distinctive style gives the backdrop as they provide decision makers in government and enterprise with the tools, and most importantly time, to make informed decisions.

Our creative project has followed a careful, familiar process to a new sort of client, gradually building layers of visual impact and meaning, delivering the world below the branding ‘iceberg’ to deeply satisfying effect.

Commission creative graphic design for your AI business

It’s a given working in software and tech that, modern, distinctive branding is vital. However the secret to success is thinking from the perspective of your client, the end user. That is something that is incredibly difficult for technology alone to achieve – a human approach is key.

Whether you’re in the UK or work across the world, we can work on designs from the creative to the corporate, depending on your brief and budget.

Call us on 020 7351 4083 or email us direct.