Harry Bennett
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Play partner with Dropbox to create a striking series of logos for its expanded product offering

Play partner with Dropbox to create a striking series of logos for its expanded product offering

Working closely with Dropbox’s internal brand studio, San Francisco-based design studio Play developed a streamlined series of logos for the renowned file hosting service’s sub-brands; Capture, Sign, Forms, Fax and DocSend. “When we think about brands, we always think end-to-end through the entire customer’s experience,” ​​Dropbox’s Brand Studio Director Liz Gilmore tells us, “so you’ll see these glyphs across an array of materials out in the world,” such as Dropbox’s website, marketing and advertising, as well as its refreshed digital products.

The result is a playful, bright and ultimately intentional icon set that simply and effortlessly flexes the brand’s architecture and visual scope. Discussing the core idea behind the process, Play’s Founder & Executive Creative Director Casey Martin tells us, “we wanted each logo to represent the product features as clearly as possible,” going through a meticulous and “rigorous” process to achieve as much; exhausting as many generative iterations as possible. “Some were extremely literal, others veered more toward the abstract,” he continues, “thousands of logos later, we discovered that simplicity and leaning on the literal side of the scale was the best path forward,” resulting in the project’s striking series. “And here we are,” Martin remarks, “proud parents to a cohesive family of glyphs that live nicely within the existing Dropbox brand architecture.”

Play partner with Dropbox to create a striking series of logos for its expanded product offering

With each of the glyphs embodying both the brand’s signature aesthetic and the story of the individual sub-brands, Gilmore explains the importance of keeping the latter visually consistent. “With such high global brand awareness for Dropbox, we wanted to build off that brand equity by pulling these newest acquisitions into our ecosystem,” she recalls, bringing to attention the brand’s global recognition and international reputation for trust and security. “We wanted to build off the strength of that equity, by pulling these newest acquisitions into our Dropbox identity system,” Gilmore continues, “at the same time, we can expand the value that we offer our customers beyond just storing their content.” An expansion aesthetically indicated through the use of Dropbox’s secondary colour, graphite. “Graphite and Dropbox blue are our two core brand colours,” Gilmore expounds, “so we wanted to really lean into the equity of that,” alongside the “key visual through-line” of Dropbox products. 

Play partner with Dropbox to create a striking series of logos for its expanded product offering

“Along with an existing collection of glyphs, the internal Dropbox team gave us some tight guardrails to work with,” Martin notes, detailing that Play’s brief was to challenge Dropbox’s existing assets. “As designers and problem-solvers, we loved this challenge,” he recalls, “we’re a huge fan of constraints and exploring how they can push the work beyond the norm.”

Describing the process behind the system of the glyphs, Martin adds, “we found it was important to keep a natural balance in every mark,” ensuring that graphite never overpowered or subdued Dropbox’s hero blue while also graphically embracing the brand’s infamous geometry. “We found places to break its symmetry and still create glyphs that felt at home within the Dropbox world,” Martin concludes.

Looking back on Dropbox’s collaborative journey with Play, Gilmore recalls the “perspective and sheer talent” of the design studio. “Play were truly an augmentation of our team and it’s their collaborative working style that truly is Play’s superpower,” Gilmore continues, who previously designed all glyphs in-house. “We had a solid overall guideline and a good visual system,” she concludes, “but needed an outsider’s special eye to really start to push our system where we needed it in terms of craft and innovation,” successfully culminating in the pair’s already iconic icons.

Graphic Design