The Story of Lightning Purple

Lightning Labs is building technologies on the lightning network that make bitcoin transactions faster, cheaper, and more secure. I had the privilege of joining the team as a product design consultant hired to redesign their desktop and mobile wallet experiences.

The team at Lightning Labs wanted a design that reflected their cutting edge technology, while capturing the brand. It needed to feel secure and futuristic, as well as differentiated from the many crypto wallets on the market. We workshopped and iterated extensively to reach the product we have today, but one of my favorite aspects of the application is the color. Here’s why:

The Backstory

Lightning Labs had developed a brand that included a rich gradient.

Lightning Labs uses a purple to blue gradient, as well as blue to green.

Gradients were, and still are, a popular color choice for modern interface design. Personally, I’m not a fan. They create a busyness that can cloud good interface. I wanted to keep the palette as straight forward as possible. Luckily, the original gradient offered a range of simpler colors to choose from.

Choosing a Palette

Choosing a brand color is difficult undertaking. Color is, after all, a subjective experience that can mean different things to different people. One way to find agreement is through story-telling.

Instead of presenting colors on their own, with no back-story, I created a range of palettes with names and an attached story.

We then workshopped these palettes, discussing what we liked and disliked about them. The team liked the “keystone” feel of Foundation, and felt that Candy was a little too much. Even though Foundation resonated, it felt facile. Too many financial applications rely on blues as they reflect trust and loyalty. The team wanted something distinct that still captured a sense of stability and energy.

Purple to the Rescue

We ultimately agreed on Stable Energy as the preferred palette, with purple as the brand color. Purple, after all, has a long history as a symbol of wealth, stability, and creativity, an almost perfect reflection of the Lightning Labs brand.

A Symbol of Wealth

How many Tyre mollusks died for this guy?

Purple used to be one of the most rare dyes in existence. It was originally harvested from a small mollusk that was only found in the Tyre region of the Mediterranean Sea, and it took around 9,000 of these little guys to create just one gram of the dye. Only the most wealthy and elite members of society could afford it. Basically, it was the brand color of the 1%.

By adopting purple into the brand color of Lightning Labs, we were able to turn this origin story on its head. Lightning Labs makes fast and cheap bitcoin transactions available to everyone. It could become a symbol of decentralized wealth and stability for everyone, not just the 1%.

A Symbol of Energy

Lightning bolt!

Purple combines the solidity of blue with the vibrancy of red. The technology that Lightning Labs is creating embodies both of these ideals. They are not only developing the hottest financial infrastructure of the future, but they are also doing it deliberately with the security of its users at the heart of their efforts.

A Symbol of Creativity

Our decentralized future is as vast as stars in the sky, or nodes in a network

Purple doesn’t actually exist to the human eye. It only reveals itself to us as a combination of blue and red. This is because there is no visual wave-length for purple alone. It simply doesn’t exist on our RGB spectrum. It’s our eyes, our brains, and our imaginations that must make the creative leap of combining red and blue to render it.

Understanding the power and potential of the lightning network is also a creative under-taking. We already have digital currency in the form of credit card transactions and money wires, don’t we? Why do we need something new? We have to imagine a world were centralized banks no longer hold the keys to our wealth, and machines may require the same purchasing power as a human.

Introducing Lightning Purple

There are three iterations of the Lightning Labs brand color:

Lightning Purple is the base color that forms foundation to all other iterations. It is heavy and solid, with all the vibrancy mentioned above. It’s also rare in the market — very few financial applications utilize it as a brand color.

The Lightning Gradient is intended as a stage for the main page of the app It gives the feel of light passing passing through and adds a dynamic feel to the base color.

Finally, the Intro Texture is intended for revealing the app on the loading page. The subtle texture gives the sense of a curtain, or a flag moving with its environment.

Want to learn more about the project?

I’ve written an extensive case study on my website, which you can read here: