21 Nov 2023

What came first? The logo or the fins?

I’m often asked what came first – Kao Data’s logo, or Kao Data’s green fins and which one inspired the other, so maybe it’s time to put that tale to rest in a blog about corporate colouring-in – which is what most of my technical colleagues believe I spend most of my time doing. That is, after all, marketing.

During a very enjoyable 7 years working at Icelandic operator, Verne Global, we regularly used to attend industry trade shows. Occasionally we’d bump into the team from Kao Data, who were always known by us as “the guys with that cool-looking data centre with the fins”. Their stand always showed these dramatic night-time shots of the Harlow campus and the impressive look of their data centre rivalled our own Keflavik campus, even with the northern lights dancing behind it.

Fundamentally, data centres aren’t beautiful buildings. They’re big sheds with large generators sat behind them and they're engineered and constructed to be robust, resilient and keep what’s inside secure from those outside. 'Curb appeal' doesn’t feature highly in the list of requirements for data centre site-selection panels. So, a facility like the above, that is visually appealing and immediately recognisable from the thousands of data centres globally is unique…and back in the world of marketing ‘unique’ is something we like quite a lot.

KLON-01 as it’s called, is a construction that is exactly that – uniquely recognisable, whether you’re talking to industry colleagues in Harlow or Honolulu. In fact it’s so synonymous with Kao Data that when a data centre was built in Portugal a couple of years ago, that incorporated similar green fins on the outside of its facade, it was mistakenly assumed we’d chosen Lisbon as our next port of call.

Back in 2020 when I got the opportunity to follow Spencer to Kao Data and he was tasked with re-structuring the company’s go-to-market approach, one of the first things we tackled was our corporate logo. Not that the old logo was bad, but on the face of it, it didn’t resonate with our infrastructure, who we are and our positioning within the industry. We relish the concept of always being ‘relevant’ at Kao Data, and our old logo certainly wasn’t that.

The non-marketing people reading this will be surprised to hear at this point that we didn’t spend weeks mulling over colours, shapes and font sizes in some up-market, Covent Garden based brand development agency with ping-pong tables in the reception, and nor were there any focus groups or 'mood boards'. What we needed to do was obvious. It took about 30 minutes, two pints of best bitter in a London pub and we soon had what we wanted. Armed with our vision, our good friends at TBT Marketing rapidly then evolved that into something with a .jpg after its name...

Our Kao Data logo proudly highlights our unique green fins, and links back into our heritage of being a company that champions and pioneers data centre sustainability in all its forms and at every part of our operation. Whether it’s the use of renewable energy in all our facilities, having all our power linked to a specific UK renewable asset, being the first European operator to transition our generators to HVO fuel, electric car charging points at our facilities or designing our data halls to operate to a power usage efficiency (PUE) of 1.2 – we’re passionate about running and operating our data centres in the right way.

And, we’ve now taken our corporate brand and identity to a new level. With our initial infrastructure having provided the design inspiration for our logo, our logo is now returning the favour and helping provide the inspiration for the internal look and feel of our new data centres, thanks in no small part to the considerable talents of the team at MPL Interiors.

In Slough we’ve redeveloped KLON-06 not only into a modern, industrial scale facility fit for the next generation of computing but MPL helped us transform the common areas into something akin to a 5-star Hotel. From the fixtures, fittings – even the arm chairs in the lobby, our brand identity shines through from the moment you walk through the door.

We’ve done exactly the same in our new data centre (KLON-02) in Harlow. We’ll be issuing more news about this advanced facility becoming operational over the coming days, but thanks to my colleague Richard, here’s a sneak preview of the reception. Just because it’s a data centre doesn’t mean it can’t look and feel like somewhere you are pleased to arrive at.

Finally, in Greater Manchester our new, proposed data centre design in the borough of Stockport includes our fins, and whether in the eventual build these are recognised externally, or there’s a nod to them internally – they will in some way be a prominent feature in the final look and feel of the building.

All of these little touches ensures that when customers enter a Kao Data data centre they are greeted with the same high performance environment whether they’re in Harlow, Slough or Stockport. Or maybe even Honolulu in the future - who knows!

So, there we go – the truth is the logo came after the fins. A relationship and timing which is replicated daily at Kao Data, with our technical and operational team being the tip of the spear, designing, building and running world-class data centres…and the marketing team eagerly colouring-in behind them.

Adam Nethersole

Adam Nethersole is VP of Marketing at Kao Data and his experience covers a decade of working within data centres and digital infrastructure. Interested in green tech and sustainable computing.


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