Established in 1998, Mozilla is a global, nonprofit organization dedicated to making the Web better by creating open source products and open standards — its most well-known being the Firefox browser. With 11 offices around the world — headquartered in San Francisco, CA — and approximately 1,000 employees, Mozilla additionally attracts the support of a global community of more than 400,000 users, contributors, and developers. Around Brand New, though, Mozilla is best known as the crazy client who decided to do their rebranding process out in the open with the equally crazy London-based johnson banks putting up their work-in-progress not just for client scrutiny but the public’s as well. The process started in June 2016 — every step can be seen here — with a first round of design explorations presented in August, a second one in September, and today the approved direction is being introduced.
(You can see johnson banks’ write-up here.)
Our logo with its nod to URL language reinforces that the Internet is at the heart of Mozilla. We are committed to the original intent of the link as the beginning of an unfiltered, unmediated experience into the rich content of the Internet.
Our color palette, derived from the highlight colors used by Firefox and other web browsers, distinguishes our brand from its contemporaries. Color flows into our logo and changes according to the context in which the logo is used. As we develop our style guide, we’ll define color pairings, intensities, and guidelines.
The old logo was typeset in the Helvetica of the early 2000s, FF Meta, which became the face of a significant part of the original dot-com era. Despite FF Meta’s ubiquity, the old Mozilla logo wore it well; simple, neatly spaced, and the name being funky enough to be memorable just as a wordmark. The new logo retains the simplicity of its predecessor but adds a subtle visual component that is just the right amount of nerd: our parents will recognize the :// as something that happens on the internet, we (the kids of ours parents) engage with it pretty much everyday, and hardcore coders will appreciate it as a common denominator and decent enough representative of the if-then-gobbledygook they write for a living. Unless a viewer has a complete lack of imagination or willingness to adapt, readability of the new logo is not an issue, “moz://a” reads just fine as “mozilla”.
The final typographic result of the “protocol” idea is the best, with a funky slab serif that’s not too crisp or corporate and not overly weird. The one thing I don’t quite like is the heavy box around it, maybe because I really liked the heavy stroke approach in round two that contorted to fit the ascenders of the name. Even if I discard that one out of my memory, the space above “moz:” and “a” gets too heavy. But as part of the logo system, keeping the logo in the box helps and it does hint at the address bar of a browser.
As we looked at the elements of our brand identity, the concept of one image or icon standing for the whole of Mozilla, and the entirety of the Internet, seemed anachronistic. Since imagery is an important reflection of the diversity and richness of the Internet, however, we’ve made it an important component of our system.
In digital applications, ever-changing imagery represents the unlimited bounty of the online ecosystem. Dynamic imagery allows the identity of Mozilla to evolve with the Internet itself, always fresh and new. Static applications of our identity system include multiple, layered images as if taken as a still frame within a moving digital experience.
Here is where the logo starts to get very interesting by establishing the wordmark as the serious element but then letting it explode with all kinds of weird images and combinations that don’t necessarily make sense but allude to the explosion of content that is on the internet, that alludes to the thing in the world that drives the mission of Mozilla. It’s hard to picture where stuff like the above will live, but establishing early on that the logo can get funky, gives Mozilla room to be playful and energetic.
The brand extensions help justify the boxiness of the main logo, establishing a system of stacked bars, where the logo is always at the top, followed by secondary bars that can accommodate any kind of initiative as well as location. The loose placement of the imagery again gives the system a quirky side to it that achieves the difficult task of actually looking like it’s not trying too hard. The logo system (and identity) is aided by a light slab serif from an existing font in Typotheque’s library customized for Mozilla and made free for anyone to use. It’s like the cooler cousin of ITC Lubalin Graph.
Typotheque was an historic partner to Mozilla. They were the first type-foundry to release Web-based fonts, and Mozilla’s Firefox was the first web browser to support Web fonts. We chose to partner with Peter Bilak from Typotheque because of their deep knowledge of localization of fonts, and our commitment to having a font that includes languages beyond English. Prior to partnering with Typotheque, we received concepts and guidance from Anton Koovit and FontSmith.
Selected to evoke the Courier font used as the original default in coding, Zilla has a journalistic feel suggesting our commitment to participate in conversations about key issues of Internet health. It bucks the current convention of sans serif fonts. The black box surrounding the logo is a key building block of the design, and echoes the way we all select type in toolbars and programs.
Not much in application yet but the messaging images above further extend the potential for Mozilla to communicate in all kinds of weird, unexpected ways. Those images remind me of the early days of WIRED magazine, which is a timely parallel to the early days of Mozilla and brings back some of the Wild Digital West vibe missing from today’s crisper, more grown-up web. Overall, it’s amazing that this open process that actively requested and implemented feedback from hundreds of people led to a logo that not only DOESN’T suck but one that has a strong idea, a fresh execution, a promising flexibility, and, that all of it together, sometimes subtly and sometimes overtly, manages to communicate what Mozilla is about. Power to the peop/e!