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    About

    Unsolicited Dropbox refresh.
    Published:






The Context

For almost 10 years Dropbox has built itself a solid reputation on top of a convenient and straightforward product that made file syncing easy and accessible to everyone. Dropbox has also been looking for ways to diversify through products like Carousel or Mailbox and more recently, Paper.


In Favor of Incremental Design

It's not about redesigning blindly. It's not about changing for the sake of change. It's about capitalizing on what's good about the current branding and let Dropbox be Dropbox.


Strength and Weakness of the Current Branding

On the plus side, are the illustrations. Fun, friendly, approachable and not cliché (think techy or stocky), they also  remain quite unique despite the fact that minimal vector illustrations have become very common in branding and almost ubiquitous among tech compagnies and start-ups. Here are some illustrations made by Dropbox:


These fun and unique illustrations were made by the Dropbox team


On the weak side, are the strictness of the logo and the coldness of the whole. Compared to the illustrations, the logo is going in the opposite direction, it's much more severe and the glyph struggles to be something more than a box, if not an empty one. It also looks very utilitarian and would not feel out of place among a hundred other icons in a generic icon set.
A severe logo for a happy world...



... that can be cold



A color scheme that does not help getting a little warmth






The Constraints

Dropbox is a company and a digital only product that runs on all major platforms and various screen sizes. The logo has to be versatile enough to be used and recognizable from a 16px glyph in a standard-res menu bar to a hi-res app icon in an app launcher, and marketing material, digital (website, social media, app stores, ads…) or otherwise (stationery, cloth, sponsor background, ads...)








Thoughts

While my initial impulse was to look elsewhere from a box or even removing the glyph altogether, I always came back to a box until I could look at it with a different point of view: it was never too obvious. It’s just simple. So…


… In Favor of the Box

First, it matches the name. Connecting the dots between the word "Dropbox" and the drawing of a box is as straightforward as it can be. It's also versatile device that scales well and can sit where text can’t. It's *just* a matter of making it be more than a box.


Keywords

Solid, Reliable, Simple, Unbounded, Unlimited, Friendly, Approachable. These may not be the most original ones and could even appear too broad, but these broad values are what Dropbox is about. Not syncing files, but, as they put it themselves, building « simple powerful products for people and businesses. »



Extracted from Dropbox's website.
No direct mention of « friendly » and « approachable » but these 2 and this banana shirt certainly look like they are


For people and businesses. Aka, for people and people at work.
So why isn’t everything turned into fun illustration style ? Because what works for illustrations does not necessarily works for a logo, aka. because it would suck. Otherwise, this would be Dropbox’s logo:



Please no...






The New Logo


The Wordmark

For the box to be less severe, the type has to match. Here it is, set in its custom designed font:

Softer yet still robust




Adding the Glyph

Here is a box:

No more strange diagonals on the flaps that make the logo look like it can’t choose which perspective it is set in






Let’s modify it to match the gentler feel that we brought with the wordmark:

« Rounded rects are everywhere »






Unbounded and unlimited should not remain only keywords. Dropbox is the digital equivalent of Mary Poppins' bag. We can afford to be magical.

A magical box with no limits, it can contain anything






This magical box is not a really a box anymore. Can we bring back a box look that makes the connection to the name so immediate, without reverting to the closed plain box that we had before ?

We can. An open, unbounded box, with a ground to stand on






Finally, let’s make it as friendly and approachable as a banana-shirt man, and here it is, Dropbox:

Now enlightened






Colors

An analogous main palette built around Dropbox blue and a contrast palette to wake things up.


Main palette

Contrast palette


Extending the color scheme to allow warm, contrast colors can do wonders. Let’s just bring Bright Orange into the freezing Twitter account from earlier:








Fonts

Branding font - Helvetica Neue
For headers and other large size texts.

Helvetica Neue, timeless and elegant


UI font stack - Embrace the platform
San Fransisco, Segoe, Roboto… and Lato on the web. For body copy and UI in general.

Lato, a readable sans with open aperture, double story a and g, real italic, ligatures. Exists in a wide variety of weights






Put to use (and to play)


In Names

Exponents for alternate versions of the same product





On Screens

From a 16px menu bar icon to a retina app store app icon


Computers' screen real estate put to good use. Control over syncing of new uploads.





Printed



Left: Featuring La Linea, the ever grumpy classic cartoon character created by O. Cavandoli






Dropbox Paper

Unification of UI and proper sorting (aka. a recents view is merely a normal view sorted by date)





Of course, this logo configuration is applicable to potential future products, hopefully none of these two:

Dropbox Scissors, formerly Dropbox YoHoHo







Thanks for watching