RALEIGH — With the sun blaring down on Red Hat’s rooftop — and a slight breeze offering some relief – the firm unveiled its new logo before a small crowd of employees and media personnel cleared to be there.

A few floors below, however, a spirited crowd of some 300 employees gathered in the common lounge area on the ninth floor to watch the event livestreamed on a giant screen.

As the curtain dropped to show the new branding — a simple white fedora hat alongside bold white font, confetti rained down on the cheering crowd, their voices  echoing throughout the building.

“We’re super excited on how this is showing up on the Raleigh skyline,” said Leigh Day, Red Hat’s vice president of Marketing Communications, who was among the throngs of people gathered to take it all in.

“It’s going to make an even bigger impact that we had previously.”

Two years in the making, the new branding comes at a pivotal time for the company, which is expected to close on a $34 billion deal to merge with tech giant IBM by the end of the year.

Even so, Day said the announcement late last year had no impact on the design process.

“We’ve been working on this far before any announcements were made. We are proceeding with this as business as usual.”

The unveiling.

On the new streamlined look, she added: “We took a look at the other technology logos out there, and we did a lot of research. We wanted something that was much simpler and would show up better digitally because, obviously, that’s how we’re doing most of our business now. This reads better in the digital market place.

Tim Yeaton, Red Hat’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Red Hat, said the time was right to give the company’s logo a new “modern look.”

“The prior mark had been created 19 years ago, and we discovered a couple of challenges,” he explained. “It wasn’t rendering well. It actually depicted our name as a single word, and it’s two so people were always confused.”

Another issue was the previous logo’s “Shadow Man” image. “It was created specifically when Red Hat and Linux was starting to basically infiltrate the data center of the 90s. It was a tongue-and-cheek way of saying that we’re sneaking into the data center. When we did these surveys, what we realized was that metaphor is lost on people today because Linux is so significant in data centers and cloud.”

A survey of the general public also indicated that it gave the wrong impression, he said. “People who didn’t know who we were had exactly the opposite perception of what we thought our company stood for. They thought sneaky, sinister, secret agent. That’s when we saw that it was time to modernize it and rethink how conveying who we are today.”

Tim Yeaton, Red Hat’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Red Hat, and Leigh Day, Red Hat’s vice president of Marketing Communications.

WRAL TechWire photo by Chantal Allam

From left, Red Hat’s Jackie Nahins, Kelly Duke and Kristin Gallagher celebrate the Hatters’ new logo inside the Red Hat HQ. (WRAL TechWire photo)

Interestingly, the company that specializes in open source solutions, used a similar approach with the design process.

“We announced it publicly back in December 2017, and every step we’ve taken — the process of defining the logo, the fonts – were done all done in the open getting feedback from our associates and customers. It wasn’t the easiest way to change the brand, but we think it was the most effective,” said Yeaton.

Judging by employees reactions to the new logo, they got something right.

“Everyone was hesitant [at first] because you didn’t know what it was going to be if you were outside of that conversation,” said Jackie Nahins, 28, sales representative, who joined colleagues in the lobby to take photos before the newly erected logo. “But it looks really clean, and it’s time for a change.”

Added Kelly Duke, 28, another sales representative: “I really do like it now that it’s come out.”