Confusion and outrage over the new Dropbox visual identity


Digital Arts | 04 October 17

File storage tool and workspace collaboration platform Dropbox unveiled its controversial redesign last night much to the support, but mostly fuming distaste, of the design community.

The bold new identity aims to illustrate Dropbox’s new collaboration tools as a deliberate move away from acting purely as a file storage facilitator. 

Dropbox published a blog post stating the new brand design was inspired by the creative work of its customers – everyone from musicians to medical researchers. The new brand identity will roll out over the next few weeks on its website and products.

It includes a bright new colour palette, new typography, illustrations and collaboration with artists – a far cry from its minimalist blue-and-white corporate aesthetic.

The fresh look has been created by a number of teams alongside Dropbox’s own design team, including design and brand studios Collins and xxix, Sharp Type, Animade and digital brand company Instrument. Check it out in the video below.

A dedicated website to the new visual system, written by Aaron Robbs and Nicholas Jitkoff, explains some ideas behind the evolution – how "the world needs your creative energy" and Dropbox can facilitate "meaningful work instead of busywork". By "pairing contrasting colours, type and imagery", the design aims to demonstrate "what’s possible when we bring ideas together in unexpected ways", indicating that Dropbox may have wanted the rebrand to be shocking in nature.

Most people who use the file storage service deal with noise and cluttered inboxes all day, and the brand didn’t want to be another distraction. But some feedback on the bold colours and playful animations indicate these elements can be in fact, overwhelming and distracting to the purpose of Dropbox, like whether or not your files will be kept safe.

Read the comments on this Dropbox Design post as an example, or under the #Dropbox hashtag.

It’s important to note the Dropbox UI itself hasn’t drastically changed, so you’ll still be able to continue using it as you please with the hint of a few more illustrations and the new logo.

What the new visual identity consists of

The Dropbox logo continues to be the familiar blue surfaces in front of a black wordmark, but instead of forming a literal box, the collection of surfaces "show that Dropbox is an open platform, and a place for creation".

Dropbox wants to move away from the label of simply being "a great place to store stuff", and so the new logo can now change based on the situation – it can become animated and take on new bright colours aside from blue.

Dropbox has paired a range of contrasting colours together for the redesign, including yellow and purple, orange and green, red and pink, as well as keeping its traditional white and blue.

Working with specific artists, Dropbox co-created collages to represent the creative process and the positive outcome of working together.

These will be rolled out over the next few weeks and months. Alongside this, a host of "loose, handmade and witty" rough graphite sketches, paired with abstract shapes, have been released. These pay homage to Dropbox’s earlier style.

The illustrations have been created and animated with the help of Animade, who created 40 of the final illustrations as well as four animated vignettes – "which now live happily across Dropbox and on desktop and mobile."

You’ll see these illustrations when you download files sent to you, as part of the onboarding process for mobile, and in pop-up windows across the interface. Here's a look at all Animade's illustrations.

Animade says the illustration concept was to "represent a space where creative work-in-progress happens".

To finish off the new visual identity is the choice of Sharp Grotesk as Dropbox's new brand typeface.

Attracted to its versatility, Dropbox demonstrates with this video how one typeface can be used in many different forms and weights, allowing the brand to "speak in a variety of tones."

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