Established in 2002 in Sydney, Australia, Atlassian is a software development company that offers a suite of collaboration software that “helps teams organize, discuss and complete shared work”. With offices in Sydney, San Francisco, Austin, Amsterdam, Manila, and Yokohama, Atlassian employs over 1,800 people, offers over a dozen software products that help more than 89,000 customers including Citigroup, eBay, Coca-Cola, Visa, BMW and NASA. Last week, Atlassian introduced a new identity designed in-house in collaboration with Angy Che (credited with logo design) and Oh no Type Company for a custom type family.
At the heart of this rebrand is our core focus on teams and our beliefs around teamwork. We believe when work is open, the full potential of teams is unleashed. […] We’ve built this belief around teamwork into our logos, focusing on the specific benefits we want our customers to feel when teamwork is at its best. And I’m proud of the end result. Like us, you may notice important symbolism around teams in the new Atlassian logo - two people high-fiving, a mountain ready for teams to scale, or even the letter A formed from two pillars reinforcing each other.
We first and last talked about the Atlassian logo back in 2011 when they redesigned from a painfully bad logo to a commendably good one. I still consider the old logo to be one of the best software-y logos of recent years, mostly because it did a fantastic job in graphically representing a human figure that also happened to tell the story of Atlas, a Greek Titan “condemned to hold up the sky for eternity”. The new logo drops the Greek mythology reference (which informs the name of the company) and instead there is now an abstract “A” monogram.
It’s an okay mark. Attractive for its swooping curves and simplicity but — especially in contrast with the old — fairly empty in meaning, even if the blog post exalts its interpretation as “two people high-fiving” (which makes me think of two Gumbys high-fiving) or “a mountain ready for teams to scale” (which makes me think of an outdoor retailer more than a software developer). The gradients are also fairly gratuitous; I mean, sure, they convey some depth and that the right shape is over the left shape but it really doesn’t add anything to the mark. The old icon and wordmark also had a great synergy in their forms and counterspaces whereas here, the icon is one thing and the wordmark is another unified only by their proximity to each other instead of some kind of formal or conceptual relationship. It’s as if they had two separate concepts and they didn’t want to let go of either one. The curved “A”s are unnecessary, distracting, and it’s a graphic behavior that does not repeat again anywhere in the typography, which is a good thing, because it’s not a good idea.
The icon variations… way too cute but they get better in the intro video below. It’s hard to knock on this too hard because I’m sure it’s something that will bring a lot of internal culture joy, having a logo that can be quirky and fun.
We’re also evolving our product logos in concert with exciting new user experience changes (which our cloud customers will start to see this month). One of our biggest challenges was designing a visual system that stretches across 14+ products, accounts for future acquisitions, and feels unified under one parent brand. No easy feat!
Each logo is anchored in a core value or benefit, rendered to feel individually unique but also part of a family, all while being legible at any size. As an example, we started with what was core to Jira Software - code brackets, connoting development teams - and worked on the shape and style until we had a mark that was representative of teams coming together in iterative cycles.
The product logos are okay. Some of them better than others — like Stride — and some of them worse than others — like Sourcetree. It’s a difficult task to visualize 12 individual pieces of software and I’m impressed that they were able to find some unique graphic representation for each but they were also cornered by their own graphic rules… mainly having to implement a gradient in each icon. It works fine in most of them but then you have super awkward things like the Clover icon.
Meet our new typeface, Charlie Sans. Designed to balance legibility with personality, Charlie Sans is a welcome addition to our brand family. It has tremendous flexibility, which allows us to create hierarchy between Atlassian, our products, and other offerings in our ecosystem. Most importantly, we believe it has the ability to stand the test of time. Fun fact: we paid special tribute to our original logo, Charlie, in this name, as well as in the letter “A” in our wordmark.
The custom type family is kind of cool, especially the Bold and Black weights but oddly is nowhere to be seen on the website, where instead we get a ton of Lineto Circular, which makes it look like a dozen other start-up websites. Needless to say, I wish there was more of the font in action.
The illustrations are graphically attractive but also kind of generic-looking. Not quite stock-level generic but, as in the the use of Circular, I feel like we see this style of corporate-cutesy illustration too often.
As a semi-separate note, I included the video above because I thought it was a nice example of how to roll out a new identity internally, which is something we don’t get to see often publicly, as these efforts are usually for employees only. So hopefully these videos help anyone that has this challenge.
Overall, this redesign feels like Atlassian is trying to come off age and mature into a larger, more mainstream software company with an identity that has broader appeal and that has a less nerdy, less techie vibe. In general, they did succeed, but the overall synergy of all the elements isn’t quite there — too many on-trend things without a unifying concept.
Thanks to Colby Fayock for the tip.