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Dropbox

Dropbox's new branding has caused a stir in the design community. Popular opinion is generally unfavourable towards the new branding, but I have seen some split opinions. For me, the branding leaves me a bit confused - or does it? Click this to see the branding page.

The new logo is a good step forward I believe, and hasn't been the centre of debate in the design community so I'm not going to touch on it other than showing the before and after:




Dropbox also have a new typeface with their rebrand, called 'Sharp Grotesk' created by the type foundry Sharp Type, inspired by the late Adrian Frutiger. In my opinion, the typography is a mixed bag. Some of the fonts of their new typeface are ok, but the typeface has an ametuer feel which shows upon closer inspection in the stretched iterations:


Conversely, I find the stretched iterations actually seem to work reasonably well when presented as headings in isolation. However, I found they looked disjointed when presented alongside body text:



The kerning is really poor at times (that V is looking a bit too close to the i):


The leading equally so (check out the p in typography and how close it is to the f in face below):


I should point out though that the leading in this instance is the result of poor typographic implementation, rather than placing blame solely on the typeface itself, but it's worth baring in mind that if this was the 'default' leading size then it would be more of an issue. 

While I have been looking over the branding, I can begin to see why Dropbox has chosen this route. They're trying to stand out from other cloud-based file sharing services, that much is immediately obvious - it's such a change from their original blue/white colour palette that's become ubiquity synonymous with tech-based companies. I think it is this change that has taken people by surprise and hence provoked such mixed responses. My initial reaction was that I didn't like it all too much. It felt too ametuer, too haphazard, and trying too hard to be seen as 'cool' with a younger audience. My opinion on the typography still stands to my initial reaction in that it has an ametuer feel, at least when looking a little closer at the finer details. But this might not necessarily be a completely negative quality. In particular, Dropbox are focusing on appealing to creatives:

"...we want to inspire creative energy, instead of taking it away."

Creative energy. It isn't something that's refined, polished, and finished. It's the initial bouncing of ideas, the concept sketches, the jotting down of notes, the 'happy accidents'. So this cataclysm of shouting brash colours, typography that's humanist (and additionally not 'perfect', although it could be argued this lack of 'perfection' is down to poor refinement rather than intent) is saying something. It's the craziness before the final finished product. Artist's sketchpads with the many variants of what becomes one single final idea, concept cars which are almost caricatures before they have to be altered in accordance to safety regulations, and manufacturing cost restrictions. You can't start with something boring to create something interesting. It's always best to start with crazy, and work at making it work

I could go very in-depth with Dropbox's new look, but I want to keep it brief rather than write another dissertation. So to conclude, maybe there is a little method to this 'madness'. I still can't really say whether or not I actually wholeheartedly like, or dislike the brand. I might have to give it some time before I decide what I think; sometimes things take a while to sink in. Remember when Google unveiled their new logo? 

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