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Mozilla Just Proved That It’s Possible To Open-Source Good Design

Despite the lack of subtlety, the nonprofit’s new identity works.

Mozilla has a new logo and brand identity after a seven-month process in which the nonprofit called upon its community to develop and critique its designs. And it’s actually pretty good.

The logo–Mozilla’s first update since 1998–replaces the “ill” within “Mozilla” with the “://” of a URL, neatly incorporating the organization’s dedication to keeping the internet open and accessible. It’s a literal approach that could help increase the organization’s name recognition for those who aren’t familiar with it outside of its browser Firefox. The company chose the logo from a pool of seven concept designs created with the branding agency Johnson Banks. Mozilla’s creative director Tim Murray told Co.Design that this web-centric identity is meant to “show that Mozilla is indivisible from the internet.”

But how did Mozilla manage to successfully include so many people in the process, especially when that strategy has been disastrous for other brands?

For one thing, the organization used a “guided and gated design process,” paying attention to the community’s feedback but ultimate ceding control of the design to the hands of branding experts. Mozilla calls its process “open design,” a nod to the design movement that originated in the software development world. Unlike many crowdsourced design projects, the entire undertaking was overseen by Johnson Banks, which came up with a variety of concepts that ranged from the winner, called “Protocol,” to other identities based on the organization’s values of openness, independence, and connection.

Mozilla’s community was then asked to give opinions and specific feedback on the designs in the form of articles, tweets, and comments, which the agency then took into account as it refined its ideas. This week, the company chose the final branding system, which is a refined version of the “Protocol” concept.

“We want to be known as the champions for a healthy internet,” writes Murray on Mozilla’s blog. “Because we are so committed to ensuring the internet is a healthy global public resource, open and accessible to everyone, we’ve designed the language of the internet into our brand identity.”

The identity’s typeface, a slab serif font called Zilla, was created by the Dutch company Typotheque–and is appropriately open-source. In place of a picture icon, Mozilla is once again tapping into its community, asking artists and designers to contribute to a Creative Commons imagery collective that the identity will draw on, an approach meant to capture the ever-changing nature of the internet.

It’s a rare instance in which the design process reflects the organization itself. When done right, open-sourced design can actually work–and bring a community together in the process.

[All Images: via Mozilla.org]

About the author

Katharine Schwab is a contributing writer at Co.Design based in New York who covers technology, design, and culture. Follow her on Twitter @kschwabable.

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