Who Designed iOS 7’s Icons? Apple’s Marketing Department

In a bold maneuver, Jony Ive enlisted Apple’s marketing department to refresh the platform’s core icons.

Getting out of a design rut is hard. It’s why car companies take at least a decade to turn their lines around, while in the meantime, they just eat it in terms of sales. But when Apple wanted to refresh the experience of iOS under the new regime of Jony Ive, it didn’t have a decade. So, according to The Next Web, Ive took what might seem like a crazy approach in a company filled with some of the world’s best designers: He enlisted the marketing department. From TNW:

Many of the new icons were primarily designed by members of Apple’s marketing and communications department, not the app design teams. From what we’ve heard, SVP of Design Jony Ive (also now Apple’s head of Human Interaction) brought the print and web marketing design team in to set the look and color palette of the stock app icons. They then handed those off to the app design teams who did their own work on the ‘interiors’, with those palettes as a guide.

We’ve also been hearing that there wasn’t a whole lot of communication between the various teams behind say, Mail and Safari. And that there were multiple teams inside each group that were competing with various designs, leading to what some see as inconsistencies in icon design. Those may well be hammered out in days ahead.

Not everyone loves the new icons, but I think they’re vastly successful in that they’re driving a new palette that identifies iOS at a glance. Color branding is precisely the type of design concerns that Apple’s communications/marketing team are constantly sweating and strongly opinionated about—potentially even more so than Apple’s interface designers, who are probably more focused on making iOS an accommodating catch-all for the 900,000 app icons in the App Store.

What I don’t think most of the complaints about this new color space admit, however, is how iOS actually still allows you to change it. Most people will not experience iOS 7 as we’ve seen it in Apple’s marketing for the past few days, since transparent windows (which will pull your own colorful photography as a backdrop) and third-party icons will open the color palette back up to a brandless infinity.

In other words, Ive let Apple’s marketing department build the new face of iOS because, in effect, the face of iOS is little more than a marketing ploy anyway. In practical use, the iPhone’s new look and feel will be more often dictated and personalized by its users—thanks to a whole slew of choices made by Apple’s more traditional design team.

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