The New Dropbox(dropbox.design)

over 5 years ago from Bryan Zavestoski, Product Design @ Zavzen Design

  • Bill Addison, over 5 years ago

    After seeing the brand update, I researched the studio who worked on it (Collins) and noticed they have an extremely talented team of designers with a portfolio of great work. I'm a designer too and consider myself very open to new and unique design experiences.

    I'm an original Dropbox user and have grown to love the brand. Historically I've considered Dropbox to be a designers brand, the likes of Apple or Nike, for me personally, something I think the new design team under appreciates. The brand was simple, elegant and iconic. Dropbox was the invisible service we can depend on. The design of Dropbox is so important to me that it is one of the determining factors in choosing it over competing services like Box despite it being more expensive (at the time).

    I understand the downsides to the original brand. The overuse of corporate blue, differentiation within a highly competitive/commoditised market. However, the simplicity of the old design permeates the entire product experience. Perfectly simple enough for anyone to understand and use. This is a powerful idea. A design first company.

    The brand update is a radical and verbose jolt in the opposite direction. It's a loud, opinionated, contentious, clashing and in-your-face take on what, in my mind and quite possibly many users, is the backbone to our studio's workflow. Frivolous visuals, marketing speak copywriting, bold colours... will these elements permeate my perfectly integrated Dropbox app user-interface? Please god no. I'm willing to leave Dropbox over this.

    From a strategic positioning point of view, my guess is that Dropbox noticed that the great majority of their users are possibly freelance creatives, creative studios and such, and so maybe Drew made the decision to push the brand into a very public, consumer-focused, "creative" direction in a move to tap into this niche market. This is in stark contrast to what seemed to be a 2 years straight marketing campaign directed at Dropbox for business. Presumably Dropbox failed to compete with the likes of Box on the corporate front, and so now the idea is to focus on creatives, collaboration tools and so on. Not a bad strategy.

    So why the hate? The design update is insensitive to Dropbox's past, its users and the underlying service itself. The design is unapologetic, loud and hyper fashionable/niche. It will date quickly and Dropbox will need another radical rebrand to keep up. It's as if the designers worked in a bubble. This is compounded by the self-congratulatory tweets and personal signatures all over the work as if the design were a personal work of art. And you know I wouldn't mind the signatures if the work weren't so self-serving, if the work were more modest and client-focused like the original macintosh where the Apple team signed the motherboard inside the computer.

    It feels condescending to critique the specifics of the design given Collins agency and Dropbox have such a talented team of designers, but I'm sorry, I just can't get past the colour combinations, font choice and visuals in general.

    I understand the theory behind the tension of colour clashes, but it's just not working. The colours are ugly together. Here are some samples of colours from the new palette. These colours don't work together on a whole.

    The new typeface is lacks personality and utility. It's unbalanced and difficult to read on screens. It's not old enough to be retro and not modern enough to fit into today's aesthetic.

    The visuals are interesting works of art on their own, however we now have three visual styles clashing in the brand. We have one-off works of photography art, hand-drawn illustrations similar enough to the old brand that I long for the old illustrations but different enough to feel out of whack with the new brand; and finally we have a mix of mini artworks semi based off the illustrative sketch style. The colour combinations in the sketch illustrations themselves work individually, but not in the context of the large blocks of heavy colours used on the .design demo site and the new dropbox homepage.

    I hope the design team consider user feedback and understand where possibly most of the criticism is coming from.

    0 points