When I joined TIBCO, Project Flogo was in its early stages, and I had the chance to be the UI designer on the project. The presentation the team used to introduce Project Flogo featured an adorable gopher cartoon, which one of the main backend architects had playfully photo edited into a superhero outfit. I would later find out it was the Golang gopher, Google’s mascot for their language, Go, which Flogo is built in.
As a side project, the team wanted a cleaned up version of this to be the mascot, something that can appear on future presentations, shirts, stickers, and other swag. We were inspired by how much fun people had with the Golang gopher, and we wanted to inspire the same sense of community with our users. Unfortunately (or fortunately, in hindsight) a meeting with legal shut the gopher idea down since it tied too closely with Google. This launched us into an exploration of other creatures for the Flogo mascot…and it got a bit wild (pun intended).
A flamingo was an interesting choice, and a play off of the Flogo name, since “Flogo flamingo” had a bit of a nice alliterative ring to it. After some visual explorations and the team committing to watching a full-length documentary about flamingos, (in the name of research, of course) we decided flamingos didn’t fit the characteristics of the project. This actually inspired us to focus on animals that not only sounded good with the name, but reflected the values of Project Flogo: lightweight, fast, and friendly.
From there, options from ants to tardigrades were discussed, but nothing really resonated completely. Then, the lead front-end developer suggested hummingbirds. Further research by the team and input from a resident bird expert revealed that it was the perfect fit.
Hummingbirds became the inspiration for Flynn because they are light — the lightest bird in the world, weighing less than a penny; and they are agile — the only species that can hover or fly backward (which is a nod to Flogo’s stepback debugger).
We went through a couple rounds of iterations, aiming to highlight these qualities as well as incorporating a friendly quality to the mascot. We also wanted to bring in the open source aspect of the project. In the final rounds of mascot explorations, we started to hone in on the character of Flynn, as well as his name.
By collaborating with one of our marketing graphic designers, Flynn’s look was pushed to really embody the lightweight quality of hummingbirds, leading to the final mascot we are all familiar with now.
Since his birth, Flynn has gone viral around the globe. It’s surreal to walk around offices and see him appear on laptops, T-shirts, and the occasional sock/tie. Even be featured as a wall mural. It’s pretty awesome to see that six months of hummingbird research got put to good use.
See if you can spot Flynn in an office or workplace near you.
Explore the github-flogo page today.