CompanyJanuary 5, 2022

Meet Higgs! mParticle's new brand character

We recently introduced Higgs, our new brand character. Here's a walkthrough of why we created Higgs, our design process from prototype to final version, and what Higgs means for mParticle.

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There’s been a fuzzy little friend making appearances across our website, social posts, and emails recently. If you’ve spent time in the mParticle universe, you may have noticed his arrival. 

If you’re new here, welcome! We’re excited to get you up-to-speed.

This is Higgs! mParticle’s new brand character.

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Higgs is a capybara, and is named after the Higgs boson particle. Capybaras are the largest member of the rodent family, getting up to 3.5 to 4.4 feet long and weighing up to 77 to 150 pounds. They’re native to South America, although they've spread across the world (and the interwebs) due to their undeniable cuteness

What do capybaras mean for mParticle?

Though the mParticle team is certainly fascinated with capybaras and all their quirks, our connection to capys goes far beyond their meme appeal. In addition to their general fuzziness and affinity to water, capybaras actually have a unique ability to coexist with seemingly any other animal species. Whether it’s a turtle, a cat, a bird, or a human being, capys’ calm and peaceful nature leads them to get along with anyone, and often to bring multiple species together into a single group. 

Similar to the capybara, mParticle supports harmony amongst parties that would otherwise remain disconnected. If you’re at a consumer facing brand, chances are you’re using dozens of third-party tools for marketing, product analytics, and customer support. That can be tough. Vendors often structure their solutions in different ways, and occasionally intentionally segregate from one another (it can be like a jungle out there!). This makes it difficult to integrate data across tools and turn data into customer value. mParticle’s mission is to provide an open customer data infrastructure that breaks down data silos by making it easy for you to integrate data across tools while improving data quality, data governance, and personalization.

But how did we choose to communicate this through Higgs?

The design process

When first beginning to develop our brand character, we knew we wanted to present the unique value of mParticle in a way that would be memorable to our audience.

The SaaS ecosystem has expanded exponentially in recent years, and there are often dozens of tools available for any given use case. The differences in product capabilities are nuanced, and lengthy sales and procurement cycles can make the evaluation process a headache. The last thing you need when looking for a new tool is to have difficulty remembering which company is which. 

Many software companies have invested the minimum viable resources into the look and feel of their branding, and often lean on industry tropes such as illustrated faceless people like these. This makes it hard to connect with the brands you’re researching and understand the kind of partner they’ll be in the long-run. 

We hope to provide experience that gives people permission to have fun while making our brand more memorable, trustworthy, and tangible. 

Anchored on this objective, we kicked off a process to develop and test several prototype characters.

Step 1: The Prototypes

We began our search with assistance from a talented outside designer, Crystal. Crystal developed four prototype characters: 

  1. A rise-and-grind pup named Freddy 
  2. An industrious hamster named Higgz
  3. A helpful bird named Maggie
  4. A shape-shifting but always-happy blob named Ruby
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Step 2: The Test

We then tested these four characters with separate segments of our audience. Interestingly, the results revealed a real split. Designers tended to like Maggie the Magpie, while marketers embraced Freddy the Dog. On the other hand, developers and product managers both loved Higgz the Hamster.

No one really liked Ruby the Amorphous Blob (sorry Ruby 😢).

Step 3: Higgz to Higgs

We poured over the data, and found that the attributes people were using to describe Higgz (cute, industrious, teamwork) were in line with what we wanted to communicate through a brand character. That said, we didn’t feel that hamsters were the best representation of mParticle’s solution and company values. It wasn’t until our CEO, Michael Katz, suggested a capybara—and we learned about capybaras’ unique personality traits—that it all started to come together. The hamster briefly known as Higgz morphed into the capybara we now love. Capybaras represented not only the industriousness that we were after, but also the themes of community, connectivity and openness that align with mParticle’s product.

Higgs tells a story that we want our partners and customers to know, and, to be honest, that we want to continue to remind ourselves of. We aren’t an island alone in this world. Our role is to keep the rapidly evolving data ecosystem working cohesively.

Perhaps more importantly, Higgs being a capybara who gets along with everyone means that he can still hang out with Freddy the Dog (marketers rejoice!), Maggie the Magpie (designers spam the heart emoji!), or even Ruby the Amorphous Blob (wait, do I hear crickets?).

Step 4: Bringing Higgs to Life

Now that we understood Higgs on a conceptual level, the next step was taking the prototype and somehow evolving it to convey all of those big ideas. To do that, we hired a full-time designer, Patricia Raubo. Pat had experience bringing Digital Ocean’s Sammy the Shark to life, and she used that background to really take Higgs to the next level. Through detailed illustrations, she grounded Higgs in environments and activities that further brought out his personality.

Oh, and color! According to scientific journals, in the Standard Model, the Higgs particle is a massive scalar boson with zero spin, no electric charge, and no color charge... but our Higgs needed color. We wanted to find a palette that aligned with our values of openness, cooperation, and warmth. After an exploration of our options, we chose to focus on blue and yellow as our main colors, with several complementary colors like grey and black.

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What impact has Higgs had?

Higgs has been live for several months now, and already we’ve noticed his influence.

The presence of Higgs, whether it’s in slide decks, in slack responses, or on the t-shirts we wear day-to-day, has helped us champion our values and stay connected internally as we work remotely.

Having a character to celebrate has also given us permission to have fun. Upon the launch of Higgs, a #higgssquad slack channel was created. It wasn’t long before team members from across the organization began sharing pics of their Higgs stickers, swag, and even their own 3D printed Higgs models out and about in the world.

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The team has also begun to leverage a growing library of Higgs slackmojis

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The most exciting aspect of Higgs is that we’re just getting started. We’re thrilled to see how Higgs continues to be received both inside mParticle and by all of mParticle’s incredible customers and partners. We’ll be sure to keep you updated with further Higgs developments, and for now will leave you with this—

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