How Figma built the identity for its mammoth design conference, Config

It causes such clamour among attendees that many remix the identity, creating their own bootleg merch to hand out. We speak to the design team behind the coveted branding.


After just three years of running Config, its annual design conference, Figma expected an audience of over 10,000 in-person attendees this June, up from 8,500 last year – and this time, there was breakdancing. Attendees audibly counted down the one-minute open film each day and, inside the Moscone Center in San Francisco, there was a huge amount of enthusiasm for both the Config branding and the newly launched features in the collaborative design tool.

The visual identity that goes alongside Config is a ten-month design project completed mainly internally, this year with help from Danish design team Relay on the motion front. Extending Figma’s core shape-based language with transforming glyphs, the branding is colourful, clean and much-hyped. At the check-in desk, there was excitement over the branded tote bags and water bottles; some brought their own bootleg Config-branded objects, like photo frames, to hand out; others got Figma-branded tattoos. “It’s like a music festival, but for design software,” one attendee, Martin Hardee, told me. Martin, who helps companies adopt and optimise Figma, was sporting a hat covered with Figma pins, stickers and San Francisco bands. “There are a lot of very engaged fans here – people go crazy for it.”

The hype might seem strange to outsiders – this is, after all, a software company conference. But dedication is common in the software community, and the careful focus Figma puts on design has helped stoke the buzz. Before the event, Damien Correll, Figma’s creative director, and Jessica Svendsen, its design manager, talked us through the task of designing the identity, and the response from the community.

Figma: Config, motion by Relay (Copyright © Figma, 2024)

It’s Nice That: Let’s start with where the concept for the visual identity came from for Config this year. Last year the identity was shape-based, based around pictograms. How has that evolved or shifted this year?

Jessica Svendsen: You’ll see that shapes are a pretty fundamental part of the Config brand; that’s something that recurs year after year. Last year, the pictogram motif was largely about language. We were introducing Dev Mode, so a new way for designers or developers to work together to find common language. This year, there’s a transformation and amplification quality. We were really guided and inspired by some of the product launches, so the update to our UI, or a product like Slides – we were interested in taking these really fundamental basic shapes that you can find in the pool bar in Figma and then expanding them out into more complex shapes. We wanted to show how Figma is a tool to efficiently bring an idea to life in a more realised form.

Damien Correll: Something that we try to do internally in the studio on a project like this, we don’t want to do a complete rinse and repeat of what we did last year. It’s not just about style execution. To be able to sit with this project for ten months, we have to love it. I think it also has to be motivated by something that has a little bit more substance to it, even if we’re kind of generating that substance.


Figma: Config, motion by Relay (Copyright © Figma, 2024)


Figma: Config, motion by Relay (Copyright © Figma, 2024)


Figma: Config, motion by Relay (Copyright © Figma, 2024)

INT: The open film is interesting, because that feels like a very specific challenge. You’re telling people: ‘We're gonna sit down and we're gonna get you excited about this event’, purely through graphics. What’s your approach to that video?

JS: So the open film this year was really shaped by our motion design lead Chad [Colby], and we worked with the Danish studio Relay to kind of bring it to life. They’re fantastic partners and collaborators. We had already established all of these motion principles around shifting and transformation and they started to think about, not only is it 9am on a Wednesday morning, how do you get people’s attention? But also, what kind of narrative arc is there? We have this kind of ‘activation’ motif, where shapes kind of touch and activate each other in different ways; they fill the screen full height. It kind of tells a story a little bit, abstractly, over the course of a minute.

”It’s a really small team, but we’re all in the same shared file working together.”

Jessica Svendsen

Figma: Config, motion by Relay (Copyright © Figma, 2024)

INT: The Config wordmark changes each year, though not entirely, right? How new do you want it to feel each time?

DC: The first Config had a green mutable logo, where I think all the glyphs sort of transformed and changed. Every year I’ve been a part of it, we try to think what’s a fresh spin or take on it. Because we want it to feel like, year-over-year, you know this logo, but also you want it to behave a little bit differently depending on the visual system.

INT: I hear the Config brand was designed using Figma. For those who don’t use the software, could you describe what that process looks like?

JS: So we use the product exclusively to create a brand like this. I think from the very early concepting, we were in FigJam brainstorming the right metaphors that we could respond to. Then we move into Figma Design, and we start sketching together. It’s a really small team, but we’re all in the same shared file working together. You know, a designer has one idea, another designer starts to riff on that visually, or our motion designer starts to introduce 3D. I think the other thing that really helps in working with Figma is we can start to leverage some of the new features, like we started using variables for our colour palettes, which enabled us to have six very different colour palettes with different backgrounds – we needed a pretty expansive palette, to make sure nothing would feel tired.

“Every year that I’ve been involved in this, I’ve noticed the community picking up some of the things we’ve been putting down.”

Damien Correll

Figma: Config, motion by Relay (Copyright © Figma, 2024)

INT: I think that idea of fatigue is important. What percentage of the identity have people seen on the lead-up? Versus how much is saved for the event? If you could split it in quite crude terms like that.

JS:We have a huge virtual audience, so web is a huge part of how people might engage with the brand, seeing our promotional assets on social, but then also, live streaming on the day. But we do dedicate a lot of design time and thinking into translating the brand into a physical and experiential environment. So you’ll kind of see that the shapes are suddenly fully dimensional, these fully realised structures you can sit on or move around.

DC: Also, with the physical space, one of the earlier inspirations we talked about internally were the ideas of supergraphics, and Barbara Solomon. Supergraphics are meant to be experienced in space. The idea of supergraphics really comes to life within that scale of the Moscone Centre, where you have this huge wall surface to play with.

INT: At Config, you’re not just designing for an event, but for the audience who are attending. What are people’s interactions with the Config branding like?

DC: Every year that I’ve been involved in this, I’ve noticed the community picking up some of the things we’ve been putting down. They’ll take some of the brand language and remix it. People riff on the logo all the time, they’ll make it 3D or say, ‘Oh, I’m going to reanimate this,’ and put it on a website. We’ve seen all these different spins and takes, which is kind of wild to me because we’re doing this for our own event, but then there are all these satellite activations and things that people are wanting to attach to the brand. Like last year, someone gave me a 3D-printed version of the logo.

INT: Almost like a bootleg thing.

DC: Yeah, bootleg merch! It always feels to me like this must be connecting in a different way.

JS: I think there is a big community part of how people engage with this conference and this brand. One of the things we try to do as brand designers is enable that in certain ways. So for example, last week, we created this community file where anyone could create their own virtual badge, so they can add some of the Config shapes or some of our UI as stickers. Last year, I think over 2,600 people created their own badge, recombining different elements. So it’s definitely something we see bootleg versions of, but it’s also something we try to participate in by providing tools for people to create with.

Figma: Config, motion by Relay (Copyright © Figma, 2024)

INT: And I feel like there’s the same reaction to merch here in terms of enthusiasm, right?

JS: Last year, we really learned: people love Figma merch.

DC: I remember coming down the escalator and seeing a queue to get into the merch store. And I thought: that’s for company merch, I’ve never seen that before. People would post internal merch on social and our community would ask for it. That’s why we created a store in the first place. But we don’t want to make this stuff just to make it. If it’s a T-shirt, we want to make sure people will wear it. Our approach is the same with internal merch as well. If everyone in the company wants new merch, we should make stuff that’s worth keeping.

JS: We’re launching a new collection this year that we partnered with Actual Source on, so it’s an entirely new collection of merch, that we’re hoping people will be equally clamouring for.

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Figma: Config, motion by Relay (Copyright © Figma, 2024)

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Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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