Introducing WharfKit, Antelope’s New Web Client SDK Project
What comes to mind when someone says “SDK”? Software development kit, most likely. If you’re an engineer in the Antelope space, you might also think of the SDK project that Greymass is working on for the Antelope Coalition, which was originally laid out in the Wallet+ Blue Paper and is intended to be a complete framework that will provide web applications with access to native Antelope data types, API access to read and write data, authentication with external users through their wallets, and the flexibility to adapt to the custom needs of each individual network and application.
Which is all worthwhile and interesting… but the problem is, “SDK” (or even the longer name for the framework, “Web Client SDK Project”) isn’t particularly memorable. So here at Greymass, we’ve been working behind the scenes to create a distinct, unique brand identity for this exciting project.
While the SDK itself will not be done for a while yet (projected completion date is fall of 2023), we’ll be releasing various pieces to the public over the next nine months as they’re completed. Today, we’re excited to unveil the brand!
Building a Brand: Our Main Goals for the SDK’s Identity
To set the stage for the brand itself, it’s helpful to understand how we approached the branding process from the beginning.
Our top priority was to create something that could travel easily by word of mouth, that would be memorable, and that would be easily discovered through search engines and online chat boards. Because for developers to learn about the SDK and consider building their next project on Antelope, they first need to know that it exists.
With that goal top of mind, we then looked closer at our audience. What would they be thinking about when they first encountered the SDK brand?
When a developer is looking for resources to help them build an app on the blockchain, they can run into various issues based on their coding experience. If they’re new to Antelope, then they need to learn how everything works and may be discouraged by the complexity of blockchain development. Or if they’ve been around the Antelope ecosystem for a while, they may be skeptical — will the SDK be able to do what they want? And regardless of their familiarity with Antelope, all developers also want to create reliable products that users will love, so they need to confirm that the SDK is high-quality, has their users in mind, and will do what they need.
A developer landing on the SDK’s website could feel anything from excited, to frustrated, overwhelmed, skeptical, or curious. So how could we create a brand space for them that would be safe, welcoming, and an encouraging place to learn about Antelope and start working on their projects?
These were the thoughts we carried into all our branding decisions, with the goal of creating a brand that would contribute as much as possible to the Antelope community.
1. A structure that is built along the shore of navigable waters, so that ships can load and unload cargo or passengers.
2. A complete framework of intuitive and reliable developer tools for building web-based apps on Antelope blockchains.
After brainstorming and discarding over a hundred names (seriously, we still have the list), the team settled on Wharf for a few reasons:
- First, a wharf serves as a solid, steady platform for ships, and we want the SDK to be a solid platform that developers can build from.
- Second, a wharf is the bridge between land and sea, and we hope that the SDK will help developers bridge the gap between building in more traditional Web2 contexts (land) and entering the uncharted but possibility-filled world of Web3 (sea).
- Third, we appreciated that it continued the nautical theme that Greymass’ Anchor wallet began, with the image of the crypto and blockchain space as a wide ocean to be explored.
- Fourth, it’s short and memorable, and has great SEO potential since searching for “Wharf kit” or “Wharf” paired with other blockchain or Antelope keywords returns comparatively few search engine results, so it has good discoverability.
- And fifth, it’s not only memorable… but meme-able.
Once the name was chosen, we swiftly claimed the domain and user names, so you can now find Wharf as WharfKit at various places around the internet. The “kit” was added due to the fact that Wharf will be a Software Development Kit.
On the current site, you’ll be able to find recordings of the project meetings that Greymass holds with the Antelope Coalition (including the second meeting, where we did a full brand presentation for WharfKit!). The site will evolve as our team continues to build out the SDK.
WharfKit’s Design Direction
Once we had a name, Greymass’ designer Max set out to take our brand goals and turn them into a design language that we could use for the website, WharfKit’s social media presence, and in other visual contexts.
The design direction that Max landed on is:
- Digital, with a color palette references the colors of classic code terminals. This should help developers feel like they’re in a familiar environment, even if they’re learning how to build on Antelope for the first time.
- Friendly, with soft, rounded shapes to give the impression of a welcoming space. The idea is to make WharfKit feel fun, so that developers are encouraged to try new things while building their apps.
- Nautical, with subtle line art and imagery inspired by wharfs themselves. This reinforces the name of the SDK, and brings continuity to both the design and brand name.
The result is a distinctive, easily recognizable, and cohesive brand identity that we hope will have special appeal to developers, making them feel prepared to take on the challenges and rewards of building on Antelope.
WharfKit’s Brand Voice and Messaging
While Max worked on the design, Greymass’ marketer Mara figured out what WharfKit would sound like in text. She led the rest of the team in a series of workshops that would help to define the brand’s personality, vision, boilerplate description, and key messages, among other content elements.
One description that kept coming up in conversation about WharfKit was a “good classroom vibe,” so it was natural to think of an engaging teacher as the embodiment of the brand. Entering the final version of the WharfKit website should feel like being in a classroom where you’re actively learning and empowered to do things for yourself, and having fun while you’re at it. Most importantly, WharfKit should meet you where you are, regardless of skill level, and encourage you to go further and try new things. The brand voice followed from this:
While creating WharfKit’s brand, it was important to define why the SDK was going to exist. It’s an oft-repeated saying in marketing that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” So why was Greymass committing to spending a full year building WharfKit? It came down to this:
Greymass developers have keenly felt the lack of community-led resources for building on Antelope in the past. Wharf is a way of paying their own hard-won lessons forward, so that developers in the future can build anything their hearts desire on the blockchain.
With the previous messaging elements in place, it was fairly easy to come up with a description for Wharf from there:
WharfKit is a complete framework of intuitive and reliable developer tools for building web-based apps on Antelope blockchains. WharfKit’s modular and user-focused code packages make it easy to turn your idea into reality — whether you want to create a wallet, mint NFTs, design a DeFi protocol, or build something entirely new.
The final content to fall into place was WharfKit’s key messages. What makes WharfKit distinctive, unique, and something that developers should be excited about using? In their current iteration, the key messages are that WharfKit helps you to:
- Code your apps quickly and easily: WharfKit takes care of the complexities of building on Antelope for you.
- Build an app your users will love: Turn your users into your fans, with pre-built UX flows that make it simple to use the blockchain.
- Stop reinventing the wheel: Benefit from the knowledge of expert Antelope developers.
- No need to overcomplicate your code: Reduce the impact to your app by hand-picking the code packages that suit your project best.
Taken together, WharfKit’s voice and messaging complement the design direction to create a brand that accomplishes our goal of building a memorable, fun, encouraging space where developers can learn about building on Antelope and start turning their app ideas into reality.
If you’d like to learn more about WharfKit’s brand, you can watch the brand presentation and download the full brand guidelines for more design and messaging elements. We expect WharfKit’s branding to evolve as the SDK project progresses, so it’s worth mentioning that there are already some differences between the content in this blog post and the original brand presentation, as the team continues to refine the various elements.
If you have any thoughts or feedback about the brand, feel free to reach out directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome your ideas, because ultimately WharfKit is being made for you — the members of the Antelope community.