I always wondered about the word “yoga” in our company’s name.
“YogaGlo” simply happened one day in early 2007 when I was driving to a yoga class. I was stuck in traffic, late, and frustrated. I thought, Why can’t I just beam this class into my living room?
And that was it. I moved forward to realize that dream — and one of our first steps was to decide on a name.
I also knew that the word yoga was widely misunderstood, easily misconstrued. For some, it’s a loaded word that can be bogged down by weighty metaphysical or cosmological beliefs. For others, it meant only a new routine at the gym. My first instinct was to generate a name and logo that didn’t use the word yoga. How do we speak to yoga’s more expansive possibilities?
Often, yoga is reduced to a series of poses on a mat, or just flexibility. But that rather narrow and relatively modern perspective of yoga would not suffice. It’s easy to forget that only ten years ago yoga was nearly unknown across the world. Now yogas, including meditation and other contemplative and movement practices, are more fully integrated into our collective vocabulary. This may be due, at least in part, to the growth of empirical research on the value of these modalities as well as their commercialization. But it is not so long ago that these were “fringe” practices. I would hear, “Don’t you have to be flexible to do that?,” or “That stuff is religion,” or “Yoga is too esoteric and the market for that content is small and your idea will never take off.” Answering both yes and no to these questions and observations was not going to stop us.
My intention to start our company a decade ago is the same as it is today: to create intelligent tools and offer experiences that challenge people to live a fulfilling life that invites our true potential. We believe yoga is accepting the invitation to live fully. We set out to create experiences designed to empower people to expand their meanings of “yoga.”
My concern was that using yoga in our name might discourage those inclined to respond negatively. My goal has been that our service would play a part in helping people advance and expand their awareness—I most certainly didn’t want our name to detract from that project.
I struggled to generate a name over the course of several months. My self-imposed criterion was that the name should have an underlying meaning and for that meaning to hold our intention and make clear our offering.
I set out experimenting with all sorts of words and non-words, linking prefixes and suffixes from many languages. Dreaming of a service that would beam the yoga studio experience around the world that I first landed on my own idea for a name: viviyana — vivi is Latin for live, alive; yana is Sanskrit for vehicle, journey, path, mode or method of spiritual practice. But that’s more than a little esoteric and it’s important to market without having to explain your own made-up word! (Or it was helpful in the early years, anyway.)
So we tried again. Yoga is associated with effort, discipline, and commitment. The effort required and generated by yoga practice works in service of one’s true potential — this process is described by the Sanskrit words tapas and tejas. Tapas comes from the Sanskrit root tap — to heat, to heat along with, to cook, to give out warmth, to shine, to burn. So tapas means warmth, heat, fire. It’s generally thought of as austerity, self-discipline, and creative tension because it refers to ardor, putting your whole self into whatever it is you are doing. Tapas is one’s true practice and one’s practice requires tapas. Tejas means illumination and fire and charisma. It relates to one’s inner illumination, splendor, vitality, energy, radiant power, one’s glow. Tapas generates tejas. Our ardor makes us shine. When our practice has tapas — our commitments and efforts — we naturally begin to glow; we possess more tejas.
I’d played with the idea of combining words with “glow” but it all felt too literal. My hesitation led to the idea that “Glo” would be more playful, less literal, and capture a more organic sensibility.
I loved it.
Glo symbolizes the heat generated by engaging the process of an expanded possibility, of one’s true potential. Committing to the word meant committing to its many interpretations. And since we were self-funded — and intentionally still are — we had zero money to market our identity. We realized we needed the word “yoga” to make us…“glo.” So in November 2008 we launched the YogaGlo logo with “Glo” in orange to symbolize heat and glow, to express our commitment to tapas and tejas.
Classes have been free to attend while filming at our Santa Monica, California studios. Over the years, thousands of people have come through our doors. It wasn’t long after we launched that people started referring to us as “the Glo” or as “team Glo.” It stuck. We started referring to ourselves as Glo. Over time it became part of our internal team and community identity. A few years later we began using variations of Glo publicly.
When we began to think more about our future and expanding health and wellness offerings, we sought to acquire the glo.com domain. Finally, luckily, the stars aligned. In early 2018 we purchased the domain, got to work on redesigning our logo, and opening our brand, our Glo identity.
I’m proud of where we started with YogaGlo but I have also looked forward to the day that we could expand our identity and so offer many kinds of practice and teaching, many yogas and more. The history of yoga — its philosophies, sensibilities, and practices — resonates with us, informs our vision, our mission, our brand attributes. Our company’s values and principles are rooted in a deep and rich meaning of yoga. But we are ready to address “yoga” in ways that allow us to rethink our very name.
Our initial name and logo were meant to be symbolically coherent, not a random, meaningless name. So too does our updated brand identity speak to our greater purpose.
“The new Glo identity is elegant in its economy of form. The simple geometry of three circles and a line are both typographic and illustrative of the many points of entry into the yoga process.
The logotype challenges typical conventions of what a yoga-centered identity can and should be, for instance, the mimetic style of an Indic script with Latin characters. It is, at its heart, a gesture towards wholeness, with the half-circle of the ‘g’ signaling an invitation towards completion.
The form is a versatile vessel, both to scaffold meaning as the product and offerings continue to evolve, and to being expressed through a myriad of materials — physical and in light. If Glo exists to be a bridge towards consistent practice — a link between intention and action, then this identity will serve them well.”
Forest Young — Design Critic, Yale University and Wolff Olins Head of Design
“When YogaGlo enlisted us to evolve their brand identity system, we were keen to honor and expand upon the company’s decade-long commitment to its unique set of values. Key among those values is YogaGlo’s belief in an expansive definition of yoga, one that transcends any particular sequence of postures or exercises. Instead, the brand empowers its members to draw on thousands of years of wisdom and tradition so they can explore their own definitions of this ancient tradition.
The new YogaGlo brand is characterized by its sense of balance, its use of negative space (intended to be a visual respite from our often manic digital lives), its strategic imperfection (achieved through the use of hand-rendered textures and an imperfectly-symmetrical logo), and its union of serif and non-serif typography (indicative of yoga’s role as a bridge between past and present). Regardless of the mode of communication, the new YogaGlo feels harmonized, hopefully inspiring others to seek that harmony in their daily lives, on and off the mat.”
The new bespoke letter-forms in our word-mark are designed to reflect the twists and turns, the flow and bend in every yogic practice. Its symmetry implies balance. Its asymmetrical half-circle G implies action, a work always in progress and unfinished. And its wink is a nod to inherent playfulness
Life isn’t a straight line. Glo was built to welcome people at all levels, to meet their needs. It was on the recognition that on different days we all have different needs; at different life stages, we have different opportunities. Glo was designed to be dynamic, multi-dimensional, malleable. Above all, Glo is meant to be personal. Whether you have 10 minutes before the kids wake up, 30 minutes between work and dinner, or 90 minutes on the weekend, we have something for you. Are you in need of a morning energizer? A specific program to help you nail arm balances? We’ve got you covered. Are you a teacher or teacher in training who wants to go deeper into the philosophy? Need some ideas for classes? Continuing education credits for that next certificate? We’ve got you covered too.
Self-care and self-discovery constantly shift — an incomplete, unfinished, and evolving endeavor. We think that’s a very good thing. Our members are seekers, constantly shifting and morphing. We know because you’ve shared your stories, confided your desires. We are a rich community of beginners, teachers, Olympic athletes, dabblers, runners, cyclists, kids, artists, CEOs, stay-at-home dads, mothers-to-be and more than we imagined.
Our message of “Thousands of classes at your fingertips. World class teachers. A subscription that costs less than one class a month. Anytime, anywhere…” began because we wanted to provide an online yoga studio, a pedagogical experience. Now we’re ready to evolve those offerings. We endorse change, evolve with you, and move forward. Today marks a shift towards more contemporary design, another milestone in the evolution of our brand. We hope to provide an even richer openness, a more sustainable container with which to hold the present and develop a future. We will continue to create experiences designed to empower and expand your yogas. I’ll conclude for now with our manifesto. I hope it captures our vision, our hope, our true sentiment: