Following their brand refresh last year, Mozilla are once again revisiting their brand identity and, in keeping with the spirit of the organisation, are openly asking for the design world to critique the work. Our Creative Director, Dean Field, responds.
Mozilla Firefox is a free and open source web browser developed by the Mozilla foundation. Available for windows, MacOS and Linux, and multiple mobile platforms it is the second most popular web browser in the world.
The rebrand in 2017 was largely successful and well received amongst the design community. The Firefox logo was one of the world’s most recognisable browser logos, and could afford to be updated. A cleaner, bolder, simpler graphic update with fewer details and increased vibrancy worked better at smaller sizes and the ability to change skins for different Firefox branded products was clever, nicely crafted and well executed. The updated wordmark however, was not as successful and lost some of its personality and boldness in its approach.
Overall, it was a modern, crisp evolution that retained the ‘flaming fox’ personality that ardent Firefox users know and love.
Cut to the present day, and due to the growing range of new apps and services Mozilla Firefox offer, they have created a whole new set of icons and a new master brand logo.
The company has suggested that there isn’t enough visual equity in the existing mark to represent the new product family. So, an internal team made up of product and brand designers have adopted a system-based approach. They have created two design systems and are openly asking for feedback from the design community. So, here goes…
There is a clear tension here that is evident in both approaches. There is a brand architecture issue to tackle, and it’s fighting with the need for attribution and the fear of losing equity in the ‘flaming fox’ logo.
Mozilla has demoted the existing master brand logo in the architecture, and created an entirely new one, along with a new suite of icons that share the same visual DNA for the new apps. However, their reluctance to significantly change the flaming fox device and reluctance to borrow from it for the icon suite, means they are at odds with one another.
The result in my view, is two systems that don’t quite deliver.
System 1 has a master brand logo that feels very corporate and lacking in personality and character, it’s ambiguous and has been described as a ‘down arrow’ or a ‘pen nib’ in the open feedback, similarities to Gitlab and Voxmedia have also been flagged. The icon suite shares the same visual DNA and works well. However, the web browser logo which is another refresh feels completely disconnected and not part of the same set, it bears hardly any resemblance to the other icons in the suite and no resemblance to the master brand at all.
System 2 has a master brand logo that has focussed on a single part of the original and has become more of a globe than a fiery tail, losing the ‘fox’ element. The web browser icon shares the same visual DNA and works well and will be familiar to users. However, the icon suite feels completely disconnected from both the master brand and the web browser, like an add on or an afterthought.
My solution – leave the firey fox logo that everyone knows and loves, as the master brand logo. And create a new icon for the web browser that is aligned with the rest of the suite that sits underneath the master brand. Interrogate the firey fox device fully, and look to borrow any visual cues you can to create your new icon suite.
Sounds simple enough, but with typography, graphic patterns, motion, naming, events and co-branding still to consider it’ll be interesting to see how it all unfolds, and whether Mozilla genuinely take on board the thoughts, varied opinions and comments of the wider design community.