We are often asked how Yelp got its recognizable logo, or “Burst”. In 2004, around Yelp’s inception, I was hired as the company’s designer. At the time, Yelp had a cartoon-like speech bubble logo that had actually been designed by Chad Hurley, co-founder of YouTube. While no doubt an exceptional entrepreneur, we thought Chad should stick to video (heh) and decided to give the original logo a face lift. Thus, I was tasked with my first project: to give the brand and site a new look.
Our team wanted something fun that captured the spirit of writing reviews, something more unique than just a simple exclamation mark. I set out sketching about 100 different ideas for the logo. I expanded on speech balloons, abstract shapes and even a dog in attempt to "own" the yelping noise that a dog makes -- despite the fact yelping dogs really don’t have anything to do with where the name Yelp came from.
My ultimate inspiration came from comic strips, where often times a little asterisk would appear above a character's head in a moment of funny discovery. So I explored the more abstract exclamation direction and the Yelp Burst began to emerge.
At first it appeared too flower-like, so I pushed it into a softer asterisk-like shape. As I was finalizing the mark, I tried a few more last minute ideas that were even further abstractions on the idea, but the Burst ultimately won out with the team.
And for the typeface, for some reason I was obsessed with all caps and a lower-case 'e' and I even explored some slab serif treatments. But what emerged was a fun, rounded typeface called Mesmer, with the counters in the 'e' and 'p' offset to give it just a subtle touch of irreverence.
So, there you have it, the story of how the Yelp Burst came to be. And if you’re intrigued, we’re also hiring designers (just sayin!)