An In-Depth Review of the Controversial Dropbox Rebrand
Oct 25th, 2017
At the beginning of October, Dropbox revealed its dynamic rebranding to the world. The new direction presented a bold color palette, brutalist-style typography, unique and playful illustrations, and an entire new design philosophy. Dropbox effectively did a complete U-turn on their previously more-corporate branding direction. The rebrand split opinion. Some labeled it ‘current’ and ‘stunning’. Others were not so enamoured by the daring new direction, calling it ‘gross’.
To understand this Dropbox rebrand a little more, we are going to break down each of the four main components and review its impact in each area. These components include the color palette, typography, illustrations, and the translation into the website.
Upon initially revealing this rebranding, I’m not sure Dropbox did themselves too many favors by combining all the variations to produce the graphic you see above. It presents what looks like a mish-mash of garish and uncomplimentary palettes. The reality is that, taken on their own, each combination is really quite beautiful in its own right.
When broken down further, the palettes are both fresh and inventive. They provide combinations that would typically be thought of as a no-go, like pink on green, or blue on red.
In tandem with their creative direction in art-style and photography, the overall brand visuals are incredibly colorful and inventive. It lies right on the halfway point between blandness and a complete visual frenzy.
Dropbox’s revised typography moves away from the very clean and corporate direction to have graced its previous brand. In its place is a combination of Sharp Grotesk 25, a very wide typeface with an almost clumsy feel to it, and Sharp Grotesk Book which is more considered and suitable for copy. It’s a visually satisfying combination and one which is a far cry from the conservative combination used prior.
With this new typography direction, some have accused Dropbox of jumping on the brutalist design trend which has found popularity amongst portfolio designs and fashion websites.
It’s with this that many see the rebranding as short-termism from Dropbox, predicting there may now be an overhaul every few years. Whereas their previous branding was simple and almost timeless, this approach could be considered to be adhering to the latest trends and exploiting their short-term popularity. Conversely, Dropbox could be the catalyst for providing some longevity to this controversial design trend.
The new illustration direction has garnered divisive opinion once again. Some see them as a regression from the previous very clean and clear style. Others see them as highly original and adore the new and more-artistic approach. Either way, they are certainly unique and tie in perfectly with the rest of the rebrand direction.
As we begin to see these designs pushed live onto the website within modals and on sign up pages, their delightful colors and playfulness really begins to show its appeal. The subtle application of colors throughout the illustrations provide a carry-through effect with the color palette. The graphite-style lines offer great contrast to the clean and concise lines of the web dashboard interface.
It’s a daring direction that Dropbox has taken; one that had to be executed with precision and purpose to avoid looking like nothing more than a child’s artwork. It has pulled it off and the illustrations offer surprisingly high levels of consistency between one another.
The website is where we are truly beginning to see the rebrand come into its own. The palettes are starting to be applied, as are the typographic elements. It’s offering a glimpse into what Dropbox had envisaged with this rebranding, and quite honestly, the results are impressive.
It will take time for Dropbox to roll out this design language across the entire site and dashboard interface. But as they do so, bit-by-bit, they are proving just how visually impactful and cohesive the direction can be when implemented.
Ultimately, Dropbox will not be judged on individual mockups on Dribbble, or a promo page for their rebrand. They will be judged on how this rebrand translates to their website, dashboard, and apps. The initial signs are extremely positive and tease a range of attractive layouts, design elements, and color combinations. It’s certainly underwhelming when you transition from one of the redesigned pages to one of the safe and corporate-looking pages from the previous iteration. Over time, these layouts and styles will be further refined and perfected. People will be presented with a vibrant, fun design with great personality; not just another blue and white palette which outfits so much of the technology industry.