October 10, 2021
5 mins

Is a logo just an image?


The Chinese tech giant, Xiaomi, last week announced a new corporate visual identity, which was designed by world-renowned graphic designer, Kenya Hara. The purpose of the new logo is to strengthen Xiaomi’s foothold in the premium market and challenge the worldwide perception that Chinese products mean low quality.

A lot of people have been making fun of the subtle changes in the logo and its typeface. Comments like ‘that’s a lot of money for a very small change’.

Lei Jun, Xiaomi’s CEO, unveils new logo and brand identity

It raises the question of what a logo, and more broadly branding, means, and why companies spend so much time developing them.

What goes into a brand?

Branding is a lot more than a logo, but the logo embodies what a company stands for.

Xiaomi’s new logo and build through a superellipse mathematical formula: |x|^n + |y|^n = 1; final choice was n=3

With this logo, Xiaomi's CEO is saying they are not only a provider of tech products, they are a company with a philosophy and mission they will fight for.

As a CEO myself, I really relate to wanting to build something beyond a set of products.

Why does nr2 exist?

Most people know nr2 for the search engine and the technology behind it. That’s as it should be, but the search engine is not nr2. It is a tool to achieve our mission, which is to give any local world-class start-up the same chance of succeeding as a multinational corporate.

We believe the best way to achieve that is to enable people to find these start-ups, then give them the wherewithal to assess how they are faring, without being impeded by language or culture barriers.

What is nr2’s visual identity?

Our visual identity is composed of 3 colours, each with a specific meaning:


- Ultraviolet (main colour): shows we prioritize originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking about the future.

- Gold (secondary colour): to reflect a state of constancy in the face of a transient world.

- Pink (accent colour): to reflect universal love. To us, pink represents friendship, affection, harmony, inner peace, and approachability.

These colours represent the innovative future we stand for.

What’s in a name?

The name “nr2” derives from the formula for the area of a circle (πr²). We want to map the world, a complex structure, in a simplified, meaningful, representative picture.

A 3D sphere’s projection on a 2D space

Our logo is the final symbol of all the above. It represents:

1. The world on a plate: We want to give you what you want to know, even if you didn’t know where or how to look

2. A door into the world: We want to open the world to local entrepreneurs so they can bring their innovations wherever they are needed

3. A light bulb: Innovation is at the core of what we do and should come straight to mind when you think of us

Finally, within the logo, we have integrated the ‘n’ of nr2. It is the first letter, in Chinese, of both female (女 nü) and male (男 nan). This represents our deep belief in gender equality.


I hope that giving you the story helps you know what we stand for and that, as for Xiaomi, our branding is more than changing a couple of lines on a logo.

Thanks as ever for reading and, if you like what you see, please consider sharing!