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Branding Mozilla: Towards Mozilla 2.0

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the brand-new dept.

Mozilla 701

sgarrity writes "I've written some recommendations for the branding and visual identity of the Mozilla Foundation's project and product line. I argue that the Mozilla Project should adopt a simple, strong, consistent visual identity for the Mozilla products including consistent icons across applications that mesh with the host operating system. Read Branding Mozilla: Towards Mozilla 2.0 and let us know what you think."

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I'd love to see (-1, Redundant)

Sir Haxalot (693401) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292629)

Mozilla org. work towards Firebird 2.0, although any development for Mozilla in general is great!

Re:I'd love to see (1)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292653)

We're still to see 1.0

Firebird rocks

Re:I'd love to see (0, Troll)

Sir Haxalot (693401) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292704)

We're still to see 1.0
Yeah I know, I've been using it since the first release of Pheonix (I think). What do you think about 0.7? In my opinion it didn't change much, but I know some bugs have been fixed, and it's certainly stable, although as I never had any problems with the previous version... oh well, it's a step (if small) in the right direction.

stupid stupid sir haxalot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7292706)

How about Firebird 1.0 first?

Re:stupid stupid sir haxalot (0, Troll)

Sir Haxalot (693401) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292739)

The title is Towards Mozilla 2.0, I was merely saying that while Mozilla can continue to evolve, I hope Firebird will also progress for many years to come (ie, build 2.0).

Re:stupid stupid sir haxalot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7292760)

nice try, dumbass.

Are you gonna waste anymore space at the top of this thread?

Re:I'd love to see (5, Insightful)

rowdent (203919) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292838)

RTFA, Mozilla 2.0 *IS* Firebird 1.0

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7292634)

read it and weep beeeatches.

Mozilla needs it (4, Interesting)

genkael (102983) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292635)

Mozilla could use a good branding and marketing scheme to take part of the browser market for IE.

Re:Mozilla needs it (3, Informative)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292746)

Having it installed as a desktop icon on a Windows default install couldn't hurt either. However, most people don't know that Mozilla is out there, nor do they know that popup/ under/howeverelsetheywanttomakemoneybyannoyingme thingies don't need to exist.

I've been popup free for almost 2 years, I have forgotten about them and when I see someone else use a browser that lets them through, I cringe.

Re:Mozilla needs it (1)

jargonCCNA (531779) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292955)

Yeah, me too. It's got to the point where I hate browsing on my own machine when I have to use IE for whatever reason... usually because a plugin hasn't installed itself right, or something. Damn popups! Go away! Where did you come from?

Firebird forever! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7292645)

Mozilla Firebird Forever!

Re:Firebird forever! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7292668)

I was going to troll about the Mozilla suite naming scheme, but I'm just too damn tired. Have a nice day.

damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7292647)

/.ed allready...

Re:damn (-1, Redundant)

lorien420 (473393) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292695)

Branding Mozilla: Towards Mozilla 2.0
Recommendations for the branding and visual identity of the Mozilla Foundation's product and project line - by Steven Garrity
Summary

This document is intended to offer suggestions to the Mozilla Foundation for the future of the Mozilla brand and visual identity. It is not intended to replace or redo the good work that has already been done in this area. Any suggestions made here that contradict, conflict, or replace guidelines, recommendation, or other work that has already been done reflects more my ignorance as the author than my opinion of what has been done.

As the Mozilla project moves towards an end-user focus from a developer and platform focus, the branding and visual identity of the organization and its software will need to be revisited. With the recent separation from Netscape and AOL, the need for the Mozilla project to have a brand of its own is all the more necessary.
Keep What Works

First, the Mozilla project has a lot going for it. It has a long heritage, reaching back to the early Netscape web browsers. The Mozilla name was an apt choice as a nod to the roots of the project. It is also unique (free of trademark issues), memorable, and relatively easy to spell and pronounce. Mozilla is a good name.
Lose What Doesn't Work

The Mozilla project is lacking a strong visual identity. The Mozilla lizard is widely recognized by developers and early-adopters on the web, but does not reach far beyond these groups. It is also used inconsistently across projects and products.

Any good visual identity builds on what is already established, while improving on the weaknesses of past. So too should the visual identity of the Mozilla project and products. A unified, consistent, but flexible brand and visual identity would be a great compliment to the technology developed under the Mozilla project.
Products, Projects, and the Foundation

The broad scope of the Mozilla project has lead to confusion among end users. The term "Mozilla" is used to describe a web browser, a suite of applications, a platform, and an entire collection of software projects.

The recently formed Mozilla Foundation has already started the work of clarifying the terminology. The name of the Mozilla Foundation itself is a good and clear name that obviously defines the official organization that manages the Mozilla project.

They have also clarified the eventual naming of key Mozilla products; the current Mozilla Firebird project is the temporary development name for what will eventually be called Mozilla Browser; the current Mozilla Thunderbird project is the temporary development name for what will eventually be called Mozilla Mail. This is clear, simple, and smart.

Seemingly simple and obvious declarations like this are important for the success of the Mozilla project. People can't use software that they don't know how to ask for. People can't tell others about software that they don't know what to call.

The Mozilla Browser and Mozilla Mail names are clear, simple, and strong names for what will become the flagship products of the Mozilla project.
Version Numbers

The Mozilla application suite is approaching version 2.0 (version 1.5 at the time of this writing) and the independent applications are approaching 1.0 (Mozilla Firebird is at 0.71 and Mozilla Thunderbird is at a humble 0.3 at the time of this writing). Many have speculated that the official replacement of the application suite with the independent applications would be appropriate time to declare them version 2.0.

The change in focus and new independent applications certain does warrant a new version number.

The Mozilla Suite ver. 2.0:

* Mozilla Browser
* Mozilla Mail
* Mozilla Calendar
* Mozilla Composer

The Visual Identity So Far

As the software produced by the Mozilla project stabilizes and matures, so too should its visual identity. The Mozilla 1.0 suite was generally internally consistent. The browser, mail, and composer applications had a consistent style. This style was also reflected in the Modern theme used across the application. Unfortunately, the common use of the Classic theme, based on the look of Netscape 4, led to further brand confusion between Netscape and Mozilla.

As the Mozilla project transitions its flagship applications from the original Mozilla application sweet to the new independent applications (Mozilla Firebird, Mozilla Thunderbird, etc.), the general confusion about the project and products is reflected, understandably, in a disparate collection of logos and icons.
Time for a Change

It won't be long before these new standalone applications reach their 1.0 status and are ready to take over as the flagship products. This likely jump in the version number and the overall improvement and shift in the software is an appropriate time to improve and standardize the Mozilla visual identity.

Like any good visual identity, ours should reflect the reality of the products it represents. The new Mozilla applications each stand alone, yet they are related and are often used side-by-side. A common style element and style can be applied to icons and logos that are appropriate for each application.

The current icon for Mozilla Thunderbird appropriately puts the function of the application in the forefront, and the association of the brand (currently the blue flames) clearly on the periphery. This is a good model.

A proposed icon for Mozilla Firebird follows these same good ideas -- combining the primary functionality of the application (in this case represented by the globe -- a commonly used web-visual) with secondary branding (the Firebird "F").

Both of these are good examples in of themselves, but the problem is obvious when you see them side-by-side: there is no consistency. Let me be clear: this is not a criticism of the current icon designers -- both are very well done, and as I stated above, both are smartly executed. The current icon designers can not be expected to match when there is no defined common visual style. In addition, both applications are beta software, so the visual branding (so far) is secondary to their development.
The New Mozilla Visual Identity

A good brand and visual identity is more than just a good logo. The entire user experience of the software contributes to the brand including, among many other things, installation, operating system integration, polish, and performance.
Don't Just Look Good

The great programmers and engineers working on the Mozilla project don't need us to tell them that these areas are already taken care of. The Mozilla applications have been strong in stability and functionality and have been making great strides in terms of usability, performance, and polish. Good default settings, manageable options, and a simple intuitive interface have helped Mozilla Firebird become one of the best web browsers available long before reaching 1.0 status.
Be a Good Desktop Citizen: Mesh with the OS

While the cross platform nature of the Mozilla applications is fantastic from the point of view of development, most users only have one operating system. Seemingly small issues, like moving the Options menu item from the Tools menu on Windows and Linux to the application menu on Mac OS X add up to make a big difference in the native feel of an application.

On the surface, the key visual differences between the three main operating systems are the icons and the application skins. The Mozilla applications already make elegant use of the windowing systems on all three platforms. As a result, the main window and window-control widgets already look as good on OS X as they do in Windows, KDE, or Gnome.

The three platforms differ in icon format and style. Fortunately, all three platforms have well defined specifications for both the format and the style of the icons. While the icons should share the same elements across all three platforms, they should adopt the details of the local environment.

All three platforms, Windows, Mac, and Linux (Gnome & KDE) have clear human interface guidelines. For example, the Apple HIG documentation clearly outlines the differences between application and document icons, and how file type text should appear on document icons. Apple even provides a high-quality template from which to build compliant document icons on the OS X CD. The most recent Mozilla document icon, while beautiful, breaks from a clear and simple tenet of the guidelines.
Stand Alone, and Together

While the Mozilla project is in the process of moving from an integrated suite to independent applications, the need for brand and visual consistency remains. The logos and icons of the individual applications should be designed in such a way that they can stand alone, or together.
Leave Breathing Room and Make it Easy to Look Good

Many organizations have extensive branding and visual identity guidelines that are never followed. Too much detail, if not presented in a useful and engaging way is self-defeating. Rather than ruling the appearances of applications with an iron fist, a visual identity program should be a delight to developers; it can make it easy to look good.

You don't see, for example, many Mac developers complaining that they can't customize the look of the OS X windows, buttons, and other GUI controls. This is because when a developer puts together a native OS X application using default controls, it looks great by default. A simple "Hello World" window is displayed with beautifully anti-aliased text on a subtly-stripped frame. Even if the look of OS X isn't to your taste, you can not argue the benefits of such consistency.

So too should the Mozilla visual identity program help the developers of the Mozilla project. When designing and icon, for example, the standards put forth in an effective visual identity program can be seen not as limiting and invasive rules, but rather as good work already done for you.
Learn from Others

There is no shortage of prior art in the world of visual identities. Apple has long benefited from the strength of a fiercely consistent visual identity based on simplicity and elegance.

While there are plenty of good examples, there are many examples of what not to do. Microsoft, in their move towards the rich colors and smooth surfaces of the Windows XP visual style did themselves a great disservice by not finishing the job. Many prominent icons in the system were left in the old pixel-sharp design of the Windows 9x series. The result is visually jarring and undermines the user's feeling of confidence and stability.
Sharing rather than selling

Open source software is often criticized as suffering from weaknesses in asthetics and user-interface because the software is often written by developers, for developers. The Mozilla project has already shown that an open source application can be attractive and usable. Better yet, we can take advantage of our collective ownership in the Mozilla products. Mozilla Firebird, for example, is the browser of choice for many of the world's best designers, interface developers, and icon artists. In trying to give an application the polish and elegance that we want for ourselves, we can help the Mozilla products become more pallatable to a wider audience.
How? Start by Saying No.

Much of the improvement of the Mozilla Firebird browser over the main Mozilla browser came from the direction of a small group. They were good at saying no. In the beginning, it was their own project -- they could say no to whomever they pleased. By the time the project was moved to the forefront of the Mozilla project, they had earned the right to keep saying no by proving that their methods worked: Mozilla Firebird was becoming a great web browser.

Saying no, though, is not productive in of itself. It must be followed with direction. I propose the foundation of a Mozilla Branding and Visual Identity group that will be charged with the brand and visual identity of the Mozilla products.
Let's Go!

I humbly suggest we get started on this work now (if it is already underway, then let's help out).

* Prepare simple and elegant (both in terms of style and delivery) Mozilla visual identity guidelines. Lets figure out how to make this lizard look good once and for all.
* As Mozilla Firebird and Mozilla Thunderbird approach 1.0 versions, let's begin preparing them for adherance with our Mozilla visual identity guidelines. Move away from relying on the names Firebird and Thunderbird in the visuals -- get them ready to look the part when they get their new names: Mozilla Browser and Mozilla Mail. (I expect this is already in the plans)
* Create a consitent icon set and About screen for the major apps (Mozilla Firebird &Thunderbird) (with appropriate OS native versions)

Re:damn (1)

Karamchand (607798) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292836)

Yea, I don't understand that. When I submit a story which includes an URL to a document on a server under my control (or to a document under my control) I take suitable precautions to avoid getting slashdotted. I mean hey, this wasn't the first time the slashdot effect hit! By now you should have learnt that it exists..

Admittedly the site isn't completely slashdotted already, I still got the article text - but it is notably very slow. (No pictures..)

Sorry, just wondering..

IE won already (-1, Flamebait)

alex_ant (535895) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292648)

Give it up.

Re:IE won already (1)

blixel (158224) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292794)

Obviously you're trolling for hate responses but I'll reply anyway with something valid.

For a couple of years I had thrown in the proverbial towel regarding browsers and used IE with the feeling that MS had "won". But a while back I revisted the idea of using an alternative browser and was pleasantly surprised with what I found in Mozilla Firebird. I find it aesthetically pleasing, it has built in popup blocking, tabbed browsing, mouse gestures (optional extention download), and a myriad of other features that IE doesn't have. And I haven't found any compatibility issues while viewing websites. So if you are seriously wanting an IE alternative, there are options for the open minded person.

Just my thoughts.

Re:IE won already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7292931)

When the Germans conquered all of continental Europe did the English keel over and die? The war is far from over buddy.

?p (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7292650)

?p
bb

uuh... yeah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7292651)

They should pick a mascot that everyone can identify with... like a penguin or something.

Re:uuh... yeah! (1, Interesting)

ePhil_One (634771) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292801)

They should pick a mascot that everyone can identify with... like a penguin or something.

Maybe a nice comfy chair. Everyone like those.

Why bother? (2, Interesting)

wrinkledshirt (228541) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292657)

The main reason you'd want to brand is to leave an imprint in the mind of somebody who's a potential consumer. People who are already using Mozilla probably won't be affected by the presence or absence of branding -- it's likely been branded enough for them. Unifying it might mean dropping the dinosaur connotations or the magical bird connotations, one for the other. But really, at this point, why bother?

Unless this is going to be part of a bigger marketing strategy by Netscape or AOL or whoever...?

Re:Why bother? (2, Insightful)

mopslik (688435) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292712)

The main reason you'd want to brand is to leave an imprint in the mind of somebody who's a potential consumer... But really, at this point, why bother?

For the exact reason you state: the potential consumers. Branding would be useful in getting more people to give ol' Moz a try. One of the main things about the average surfer, I find, is that (s)he simply doesn't know about it.

"potential consumers" (1)

wrinkledshirt (228541) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292872)

But how will unifying the brand image attract them, exactly?

Case in point: Suse consistently uses the little green chameleon as its brand. But how many people out there, if you were to ask them what a little green chameleon makes them think of, would say Suse?

Branding goes hand-in-hand with a large marketing strategy designed to get that brand into the mind of the consumer. How does Mozilla accomplish this, exactly? The fact that it's a free product makes it extremely cost-ineffective to go through the intensive and expensive motions of effectively branding.

Don't get me wrong, these are just my first impressions to the idea, and I think it could be something special if the open-source community could effectively brand something on the larger economic world when it comes to free products. I'm just having a hard time visualizing how it could be done.

Re:Why bother? (5, Insightful)

squaretorus (459130) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292732)

A stack of reasons - mostly relating to adoption within the workplace. As soon as I fire up Mozilla in front of a newbie they comment along the lines of 'playing games huh' or similar.

Im not suggesting the monster gets replaced with some prick with a laptop looking serious while rubbing his chin as his foxy secretary takes notes in their walnut and leather office - but something a little more businessy wouldn't hurt.

Branding gives you things to hang onto. Some people like their jeans more because missy elliot wears then (or says she wears them). I'd like Mozilla more if I didnt look like a dinosaur geek everytime it starts up.

Re:Why bother? (1)

mopslik (688435) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292780)

I'd like Mozilla more if I didnt look like a dinosaur geek everytime it starts up.

At least this one issue is relatively easy to fix [lotekk.net] .

Re:Why bother? (0)

sbrown123 (229895) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292852)

It could use a rebranding. I take it in three parts:

1. Naming
2. Visual
3. Audio

(1)A consistant naming convention would be nice. Why Camino AND Phoenix? Why not : Mozilla browser. Yeah, they have different layouts. But they could share a common name since they target different platforms. Thunderbird should become Mozilla Mail. Author was on target with this one.

(2)

The Mozilla applications already make elegant use of the windowing systems on all three platforms.


Wrong wrong wrong. Compare IE, Konqueror, or Galeon to Mozilla. Mozilla does not support standard widget look-and-feel. Moz needs to atleast come up with skins that match native look-n-feel.

Think Splash screens Moz team. Give users options to turn them off. Splash screens advertise your product to 3rd parties watching others use the product.

(3)Audio is always missed! Having something corny like the Moz roaring when you get an email can go a long way. Skins for clients should have good sound bites.

2.0? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7292660)

Lets pull a Netscape and leap up to Mozilla 7.0 :)

1.5 was the last Mozilla... (0, Troll)

gpinzone (531794) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292662)

...wasn't it? Good luck going to 2.0.

Re:1.5 was the last Mozilla... (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292680)

True, but I'm sure at some point down the road they will have a installer that will give you all the individual components at once...

Re:1.5 was the last Mozilla... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7292882)

No, it's not the "last Mozilla". They're not expecting the switch to happen until sometime in the first part of 2004.

So for now Mozilla as we know it lives on. 1.6 will definitely be released and I wouldn't be surprised to see Mozilla 1.7.

I also suspect that during the transition we'll see Mozilla 1.8 and 1.9 with 2.0 being the new "deintegrated" suite.

Re:1.5 was the last Mozilla... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7292905)

WTFA

Re:1.5 was the last Mozilla... (1)

jargonCCNA (531779) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292988)

I'm on the 1.6 alpha, thanks to keeping up with nightlies... speaking of which; that nightly's over a couple of weeks old.

Mirror Please (-1)

pstreck (558593) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292666)

Site seems to be slashdotted already.

text of the article (0, Redundant)

Jucius Maximus (229128) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292700)

Branding Mozilla: Towards Mozilla 2.0 @import "articles.css"; -->
Branding Mozilla: Towards Mozilla 2.0 Recommendations for the branding and visual identity of the Mozilla Foundations product and project line - by Steven Garrity
Summary

This document is intended to offer suggestions to the Mozilla Foundation for the future of the Mozilla brand and visual identity. It is not intended to replace or redo the good work that has already been done in this area. Any suggestions made here that contradict, conflict, or replace guidelines, recommendation, or other work that has already been done reflects more my ignorance as the author than my opinion of what has been done.

As the Mozilla project moves towards an end-user focus from a developer and platform focus, the branding and visual identity of the organization and its software will need to be revisited. With the recent separation from Netscape and AOL, the need for the Mozilla project to have a brand of its own is all the more necessary.

Keep What Works

First, the Mozilla project has a lot going for it. It has a long heritage, reaching back to the early Netscape web browsers. The Mozilla name was an apt choice as a nod to the roots of the project. It is also unique (free of trademark issues), memorable, and relatively easy to spell and pronounce. Mozilla is a good name.

Lose What Doesnt Work

The Mozilla project is lacking a strong visual identity. The Mozilla lizard [slashdot.org] is widely recognized by developers and early-adopters on the web, but does not reach far beyond these groups. It is also used inconsistently across projects and products.

Any good visual identity builds on what is already established, while improving on the weaknesses of past. So too should the visual identity of the Mozilla project and products. A unified, consistent, but flexible brand and visual identity would be a great compliment to the technology developed under the Mozilla project.

Products, Projects, and the Foundation

The broad scope of the Mozilla project has lead to confusion among end users. The term Mozilla is used to describe a web browser, a suite of applications, a platform, and an entire collection of software projects.

The recently formed Mozilla Foundation has already started the work of clarifying the terminology [mozilla.org] . The name of the Mozilla Foundation itself is a good and clear name that obviously defines the official organization that manages the Mozilla project.

They have also clarified the eventual naming of key Mozilla products; the current Mozilla Firebird [mozilla.org] project is the temporary development name for what will eventually be called Mozilla Browser; the current Mozilla Thunderbird [mozilla.org] project is the temporary development name for what will eventually be called Mozilla Mail. This is clear, simple, and smart.

Seemingly simple and obvious declarations like this are important for the success of the Mozilla project. People cant use software that they dont know how to ask for. People cant tell others about software that they dont know what to call.

The Mozilla Browser and Mozilla Mail names are clear, simple, and strong names for what will become the flagship products of the Mozilla project.

Version Numbers

The Mozilla application suite is approaching version 2.0 (version 1.5 at the time of this writing) and the independent applications are approaching 1.0 (Mozilla Firebird is at 0.71 and Mozilla Thunderbird is at a humble 0.3 at the time of this writing). Many have speculated that the official replacement of the application suite with the independent applications would be appropriate time to declare them version 2.0.

The change in focus and new independent applications certain does warrant a new version number.

The Mozilla Suite ver. 2.0:

  • Mozilla Browser
  • Mozilla Mail
  • Mozilla Calendar
  • Mozilla Composer
The Visual Identity So Far

As the software produced by the Mozilla project stabilizes and matures, so too should its visual identity. The Mozilla 1.0 suite was generally internally consistent. The browser, mail, and composer applications had a consistent style. This style was also reflected in the Modern theme [mozillazine.org] used across the application. Unfortunately, the common use of the Classic theme [freshmeat.net] , based on the look of Netscape 4, led to further brand confusion between Netscape and Mozilla.

As the Mozilla project transitions its flagship applications from the original Mozilla application sweet to the new independent applications (Mozilla Firebird, Mozilla Thunderbird, etc.), the general confusion about the project and products is reflected, understandably, in a disparate collection of logos and icons [slashdot.org] .

Time for a Change

It wont be long before these new standalone applications reach their 1.0 status and are ready to take over as the flagship products. This likely jump in the version number and the overall improvement and shift in the software is an appropriate time to improve and standardize the Mozilla visual identity.

Like any good visual identity, ours should reflect the reality of the products it represents. The new Mozilla applications each stand alone, yet they are related and are often used side-by-side. A common style element and style can be applied to icons and logos that are appropriate for each application.

The current icon for Mozilla Thunderbird appropriately puts the function of the application in the forefront, and the association of the brand (currently the blue flames) clearly on the periphery. This is a good model.

A proposed icon for Mozilla Firebird follows these same good ideas combining the primary functionality of the application (in this case represented by the globe a commonly used web-visual) with secondary branding (the Firebird F).

Both of these are good examples in of themselves, but the problem is obvious when you see them side-by-side: there is no consistency. Let me be clear: this is not a criticism of the current icon designers both are very well done, and as I stated above, both are smartly executed. The current icon designers can not be expected to match when there is no defined common visual style. In addition, both applications are beta software, so the visual branding (so far) is secondary to their development.

The New Mozilla Visual Identity

A good brand and visual identity is more than just a good logo. The entire user experience of the software contributes to the brand including, among many other things, installation, operating system integration, polish, and performance.

Dont Just Look Good

The great programmers and engineers working on the Mozilla project dont need us to tell them that these areas are already taken care of. The Mozilla applications have been strong in stability and functionality and have been making great strides in terms of usability, performance, and polish. Good default settings, manageable options, and a simple intuitive interface have helped Mozilla Firebird become one of the best web browsers available long before reaching 1.0 status.

Be a Good Desktop Citizen: Mesh with the OS

While the cross platform nature of the Mozilla applications is fantastic from the point of view of development, most users only have one operating system. Seemingly small issues, like moving the Options menu item from the Tools menu on Windows and Linux to the application menu on Mac OS X add up to make a big difference in the native feel of an application.

On the surface, the key visual differences between the three main operating systems are the icons and the application skins. The Mozilla applications already make elegant use of the windowing systems on all three platforms. As a result, the main window and window-control widgets already look as good on OS X as they do in Windows, KDE, or Gnome.

The three platforms differ in icon format and style. Fortunately, all three platforms have well defined specifications for both the format and the style of the icons. While the icons should share the same elements across all three platforms, they should adopt the details of the local environment.

All three platforms, Windows, Mac, and Linux (Gnome & KDE) have clear human interface guidelines. For example, the Apple HIG documentation [apple.com] clearly outlines the differences between application and document icons, and how file type text should appear on document icons. Apple even provides a high-quality template from which to build compliant document icons on the OS X CD. The most recent Mozilla document icon, while beautiful, breaks from a clear and simple tenet of the guidelines [slashdot.org] .

Stand Alone, and Together

While the Mozilla project is in the process of moving from an integrated suite to independent applications, the need for brand and visual consistency remains. The logos and icons of the individual applications should be designed in such a way that they can stand alone, or together.

Leave Breathing Room and Make it Easy to Look Good

Many organizations have extensive branding and visual identity guidelines that are never followed. Too much detail, if not presented in a useful and engaging way is self-defeating. Rather than ruling the appearances of applications with an iron fist, a visual identity program should be a delight to developers; it can make it easy to look good.

You dont see, for example, many Mac developers complaining that they cant customize the look of the OS X windows, buttons, and other GUI controls. This is because when a developer puts together a native OS X application using default controls, it looks great by default. A simple Hello World window is displayed with beautifully anti-aliased text on a subtly-stripped frame. Even if the look of OS X isnt to your taste, you can not argue the benefits of such consistency.

So too should the Mozilla visual identity program help the developers of the Mozilla project. When designing and icon, for example, the standards put forth in an effective visual identity program can be seen not as limiting and invasive rules, but rather as good work already done for you.

Learn from Others

[actsofvolition.com] There is no shortage of prior art in the world of visual identities. Apple has long benefited from the strength of a fiercely consistent visual identity based on simplicity and elegance.

While there are plenty of good examples, there are many examples of what not to do. Microsoft, in their move towards the rich colors and smooth surfaces of the Windows XP visual style did themselves a great disservice by not finishing the job [actsofvolition.com] . Many prominent icons in the system were left in the old pixel-sharp design of the Windows 9x series. The result is visually jarring and undermines the users feeling of confidence and stability.

Sharing rather than selling

Open source software is often criticized as suffering from weaknesses in asthetics and user-interface because the software is often written by developers, for developers. The Mozilla project has already shown that an open source application can be attractive and usable. Better yet, we can take advantage of our collective ownership in the Mozilla products. Mozilla Firebird, for example, is the browser of choice for many of the worlds best designers, interface developers, and icon artists. In trying to give an application the polish and elegance that we want for ourselves, we can help the Mozilla products become more pallatable to a wider audience.

How? Start by Saying No.

Much of the improvement of the Mozilla Firebird browser over the main Mozilla browser came from the direction of a small group. They were good at saying no. In the beginning, it was their own project they could say no to whomever they pleased. By the time the project was moved to the forefront of the Mozilla project, they had earned the right to keep saying no by proving that their methods worked: Mozilla Firebird was becoming a great web browser.

Saying no, though, is not productive in of itself. It must be followed with direction. I propose the foundation of a Mozilla Branding and Visual Identity group that will be charged with the brand and visual identity of the Mozilla products.

Lets Go!

I humbly suggest we get started on this work now (if it is already underway, then lets help out).

  • Prepare simple and elegant (both in terms of style and delivery) Mozilla visual identity guidelines. Lets figure out how to make this lizard look good once and for all.
  • As Mozilla Firebird and Mozilla Thunderbird approach 1.0 versions, lets begin preparing them for adherance with our Mozilla visual identity guidelines. Move away from relying on the names Firebird and Thunderbird in the visuals get them ready to look the part when they get their new names: Mozilla Browser and Mozilla Mail. (I expect this is already in the plans)
  • Create a consitent icon set and About screen for the major apps (Mozilla Firebird &Thunderbird) (with appropriate OS native versions)
Discuss this article [actsofvolition.com]
[creativecommons.org]

This document is covered by the Attribution-ShareAlike License [creativecommons.org] from the Creative Commons [creativecommons.org] .

MOD PARENT DOWN - MOD CHILDREN UP - MOD GRANDPA FU (0, Redundant)

Sir Haxa1ot (715348) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292811)

Mod him down!
The poster has goatse in URL field.
Should've submitted as AC, like people usually do for mirrors.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN - MOD CHILDREN UP - MOD GRANDPA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7292840)

You mean he beat you to it [slashdot.org]

Best strategy (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7292667)

You should come up with operating system that everyone uses and then get like 95% of the desktop market, and then bundle the browser with the OS and call them inseparable.

Seemed to work for the case studies I've investigated.

I totallya absolutely 100% agree (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7292675)

I think mozilla guys are trying to become too much addicted to the so called "standards". They don't do more than that, they simply try to implement standards and be done with it. Firebird (mozilla) is a great browser, because of some limitations for the dhtml, I don't think it can ever replace IE on windows.

Re:I totallya absolutely 100% agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7292725)

yeah as the browser needs to burn CD's rip audio, encode mp3, have content controls in it and 90,000 other half assed features like Microsoft.

good idea dude...

dhtml is soooo awesome.. only a luzer would use something else....

dude.....
Wooo! dont you just love Steve Ballmer... I want his poster in my cube... and my Microsoft hat and windows logo golf shirt....

Good english-as-a-second-language Troll! (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292870)

Work on your grammar skills and you'll be trolling with the best!

SLASHDOT'd! (0, Redundant)

Diphthong (461653) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292679)

"Ow, my server!"

Re:SLASHDOT'd! (0, Redundant)

Lane.exe (672783) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292883)

*request request request request request*

My bandwitdh hurts...

Isn't this a little late? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292694)

It seems that this article points out the need for consistency, AFTER the Mozilla organization already figured it out. In his own article, he shows how nice and consistent the new FireBird and Thunderbird icons are. And how consistent the naming is now. What's the problem here?

Re:Isn't this a little late? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7292956)

"It seems that this article points out the need for consistency, AFTER the Mozilla organization already figured it out. In his own article, he shows how nice and consistent the new FireBird and Thunderbird icons are. And how consistent the naming is now. What's the problem here?"

Do you understand the english language? Editors, can we *please* add a "Waste of skin" or simply "Dumb" moderation just for posts like these?

Face it, you failed...

Re:Isn't this a little late? (1)

sffubs (561863) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292976)

Read it again - he says the icons are nice in themselves, but are not consistent with each other.

For what it's worth, I think the article is a good nudge in the right direction.

--sffubs

What people really want... (4, Informative)

metroid composite (710698) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292696)

...is things that block adds and what not. Mozilla has "block immages from this server" which really needs to be advertised more; from stopping adds to blocking out ugly avatars which I'd rather not see on various forums. Wouldn't hurt to advertise a patch that range blocks a few servers like Gator (As I know this can be done, but I'm too lazy to look it up myself).

Though, yes brand name recongition helps with any such advertising, of course.

Re:What people really want... (1)

FooBarWidget (556006) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292966)

I suspect that most people would rather download the Google toolbar than downloading a new browser just to block popup.
And my classmates argue that popup advertisements are near dead and that most sites use inline advertisements now.

Site contents (0)

chadw17 (308037) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292708)

Branding Mozilla: Towards Mozilla 2.0
Recommendations for the branding and visual identity of the Mozilla Foundation's product and project line - by Steven Garrity
Summary

This document is intended to offer suggestions to the Mozilla Foundation for the future of the Mozilla brand and visual identity. It is not intended to replace or redo the good work that has already been done in this area. Any suggestions made here that contradict, conflict, or replace guidelines, recommendation, or other work that has already been done reflects more my ignorance as the author than my opinion of what has been done.

As the Mozilla project moves towards an end-user focus from a developer and platform focus, the branding and visual identity of the organization and its software will need to be revisited. With the recent separation from Netscape and AOL, the need for the Mozilla project to have a brand of its own is all the more necessary.
Keep What Works

First, the Mozilla project has a lot going for it. It has a long heritage, reaching back to the early Netscape web browsers. The Mozilla name was an apt choice as a nod to the roots of the project. It is also unique (free of trademark issues), memorable, and relatively easy to spell and pronounce. Mozilla is a good name.
Lose What Doesn't Work

The Mozilla project is lacking a strong visual identity. The Mozilla lizard is widely recognized by developers and early-adopters on the web, but does not reach far beyond these groups. It is also used inconsistently across projects and products.

Any good visual identity builds on what is already established, while improving on the weaknesses of past. So too should the visual identity of the Mozilla project and products. A unified, consistent, but flexible brand and visual identity would be a great compliment to the technology developed under the Mozilla project.
Products, Projects, and the Foundation

The broad scope of the Mozilla project has lead to confusion among end users. The term "Mozilla" is used to describe a web browser, a suite of applications, a platform, and an entire collection of software projects.

The recently formed Mozilla Foundation has already started the work of clarifying the terminology. The name of the Mozilla Foundation itself is a good and clear name that obviously defines the official organization that manages the Mozilla project.

They have also clarified the eventual naming of key Mozilla products; the current Mozilla Firebird project is the temporary development name for what will eventually be called Mozilla Browser; the current Mozilla Thunderbird project is the temporary development name for what will eventually be called Mozilla Mail. This is clear, simple, and smart.

Seemingly simple and obvious declarations like this are important for the success of the Mozilla project. People can't use software that they don't know how to ask for. People can't tell others about software that they don't know what to call.

The Mozilla Browser and Mozilla Mail names are clear, simple, and strong names for what will become the flagship products of the Mozilla project.
Version Numbers

The Mozilla application suite is approaching version 2.0 (version 1.5 at the time of this writing) and the independent applications are approaching 1.0 (Mozilla Firebird is at 0.71 and Mozilla Thunderbird is at a humble 0.3 at the time of this writing). Many have speculated that the official replacement of the application suite with the independent applications would be appropriate time to declare them version 2.0.

The change in focus and new independent applications certain does warrant a new version number.

The Mozilla Suite ver. 2.0:

* Mozilla Browser
* Mozilla Mail
* Mozilla Calendar
* Mozilla Composer

The Visual Identity So Far

As the software produced by the Mozilla project stabilizes and matures, so too should its visual identity. The Mozilla 1.0 suite was generally internally consistent. The browser, mail, and composer applications had a consistent style. This style was also reflected in the Modern theme used across the application. Unfortunately, the common use of the Classic theme, based on the look of Netscape 4, led to further brand confusion between Netscape and Mozilla.

As the Mozilla project transitions its flagship applications from the original Mozilla application sweet to the new independent applications (Mozilla Firebird, Mozilla Thunderbird, etc.), the general confusion about the project and products is reflected, understandably, in a disparate collection of logos and icons.
Time for a Change

It won't be long before these new standalone applications reach their 1.0 status and are ready to take over as the flagship products. This likely jump in the version number and the overall improvement and shift in the software is an appropriate time to improve and standardize the Mozilla visual identity.

Like any good visual identity, ours should reflect the reality of the products it represents. The new Mozilla applications each stand alone, yet they are related and are often used side-by-side. A common style element and style can be applied to icons and logos that are appropriate for each application.

The current icon for Mozilla Thunderbird appropriately puts the function of the application in the forefront, and the association of the brand (currently the blue flames) clearly on the periphery. This is a good model.

A proposed icon for Mozilla Firebird follows these same good ideas -- combining the primary functionality of the application (in this case represented by the globe -- a commonly used web-visual) with secondary branding (the Firebird "F").

Both of these are good examples in of themselves, but the problem is obvious when you see them side-by-side: there is no consistency. Let me be clear: this is not a criticism of the current icon designers -- both are very well done, and as I stated above, both are smartly executed. The current icon designers can not be expected to match when there is no defined common visual style. In addition, both applications are beta software, so the visual branding (so far) is secondary to their development.
The New Mozilla Visual Identity

A good brand and visual identity is more than just a good logo. The entire user experience of the software contributes to the brand including, among many other things, installation, operating system integration, polish, and performance.
Don't Just Look Good

The great programmers and engineers working on the Mozilla project don't need us to tell them that these areas are already taken care of. The Mozilla applications have been strong in stability and functionality and have been making great strides in terms of usability, performance, and polish. Good default settings, manageable options, and a simple intuitive interface have helped Mozilla Firebird become one of the best web browsers available long before reaching 1.0 status.
Be a Good Desktop Citizen: Mesh with the OS

While the cross platform nature of the Mozilla applications is fantastic from the point of view of development, most users only have one operating system. Seemingly small issues, like moving the Options menu item from the Tools menu on Windows and Linux to the application menu on Mac OS X add up to make a big difference in the native feel of an application.

On the surface, the key visual differences between the three main operating systems are the icons and the application skins. The Mozilla applications already make elegant use of the windowing systems on all three platforms. As a result, the main window and window-control widgets already look as good on OS X as they do in Windows, KDE, or Gnome.

The three platforms differ in icon format and style. Fortunately, all three platforms have well defined specifications for both the format and the style of the icons. While the icons should share the same elements across all three platforms, they should adopt the details of the local environment.

All three platforms, Windows, Mac, and Linux (Gnome & KDE) have clear human interface guidelines. For example, the Apple HIG documentation clearly outlines the differences between application and document icons, and how file type text should appear on document icons. Apple even provides a high-quality template from which to build compliant document icons on the OS X CD. The most recent Mozilla document icon, while beautiful, breaks from a clear and simple tenet of the guidelines.
Stand Alone, and Together

While the Mozilla project is in the process of moving from an integrated suite to independent applications, the need for brand and visual consistency remains. The logos and icons of the individual applications should be designed in such a way that they can stand alone, or together.
Leave Breathing Room and Make it Easy to Look Good

Many organizations have extensive branding and visual identity guidelines that are never followed. Too much detail, if not presented in a useful and engaging way is self-defeating. Rather than ruling the appearances of applications with an iron fist, a visual identity program should be a delight to developers; it can make it easy to look good.

You don't see, for example, many Mac developers complaining that they can't customize the look of the OS X windows, buttons, and other GUI controls. This is because when a developer puts together a native OS X application using default controls, it looks great by default. A simple "Hello World" window is displayed with beautifully anti-aliased text on a subtly-stripped frame. Even if the look of OS X isn't to your taste, you can not argue the benefits of such consistency.

So too should the Mozilla visual identity program help the developers of the Mozilla project. When designing and icon, for example, the standards put forth in an effective visual identity program can be seen not as limiting and invasive rules, but rather as good work already done for you.
Learn from Others

There is no shortage of prior art in the world of visual identities. Apple has long benefited from the strength of a fiercely consistent visual identity based on simplicity and elegance.

While there are plenty of good examples, there are many examples of what not to do. Microsoft, in their move towards the rich colors and smooth surfaces of the Windows XP visual style did themselves a great disservice by not finishing the job. Many prominent icons in the system were left in the old pixel-sharp design of the Windows 9x series. The result is visually jarring and undermines the user's feeling of confidence and stability.
Sharing rather than selling

Open source software is often criticized as suffering from weaknesses in asthetics and user-interface because the software is often written by developers, for developers. The Mozilla project has already shown that an open source application can be attractive and usable. Better yet, we can take advantage of our collective ownership in the Mozilla products. Mozilla Firebird, for example, is the browser of choice for many of the world's best designers, interface developers, and icon artists. In trying to give an application the polish and elegance that we want for ourselves, we can help the Mozilla products become more pallatable to a wider audience.
How? Start by Saying No.

Much of the improvement of the Mozilla Firebird browser over the main Mozilla browser came from the direction of a small group. They were good at saying no. In the beginning, it was their own project -- they could say no to whomever they pleased. By the time the project was moved to the forefront of the Mozilla project, they had earned the right to keep saying no by proving that their methods worked: Mozilla Firebird was becoming a great web browser.

Saying no, though, is not productive in of itself. It must be followed with direction. I propose the foundation of a Mozilla Branding and Visual Identity group that will be charged with the brand and visual identity of the Mozilla products.
Let's Go!

I humbly suggest we get started on this work now (if it is already underway, then let's help out).

* Prepare simple and elegant (both in terms of style and delivery) Mozilla visual identity guidelines. Lets figure out how to make this lizard look good once and for all.
* As Mozilla Firebird and Mozilla Thunderbird approach 1.0 versions, let's begin preparing them for adherance with our Mozilla visual identity guidelines. Move away from relying on the names Firebird and Thunderbird in the visuals -- get them ready to look the part when they get their new names: Mozilla Browser and Mozilla Mail. (I expect this is already in the plans)
* Create a consitent icon set and About screen for the major apps (Mozilla Firebird &Thunderbird) (with appropriate OS native versions)

This document is covered by the Attribution-ShareAlike License from the Creative Commons.

Great, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7292713)

Recommendations are all well and good, but who's going to actually do the design work and make the media buys?

I have to disagree here... (5, Insightful)

Randolpho (628485) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292715)

Lose What Doesn't Work
The Mozilla project is lacking a strong visual identity. The Mozilla lizard is widely recognized by developers and early-adopters on the web, but does not reach far beyond these groups. It is also used inconsistently across projects and products.

Any good visual identity builds on what is already established, while improving on the weaknesses of past. So too should the visual identity of the Mozilla project and products. A unified, consistent, but flexible brand and visual identity would be a great compliment to the technology developed under the Mozilla project.
The mozilla lizard is at least as recognizable as the linux penguin. The mozilla lizard may be a bit bland, but it's a sufficient trademark. Needs more artistic work, perhaps, but it still doesn't need to be dropped entirely. What matters most is how you hype it. Nike's trademark is a friggin rounded check-mark for chrissake! Everyone recognizes it, because Nike pushed it so much, and for no other reason.

Re:I have to disagree here... (4, Insightful)

cloudless.net (629916) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292910)

Most well-known trademarks have a very simple design. Nike's logo is simple, unique, easy to remember and recognize. By the way it fits its "Just Do It" slogan perfectly. The mozilla lizard and Linux penguin don't have the same advantages as the Nike logo. Think about Apple, MSN (Butterfly), and even the original Netscape icon... they are much more fit as trademarks.

Re:I have to disagree here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7292970)

i dunno.. i think the lizard could be easily confused with the GEICO gecko...

But it *is* inconsistent (1)

IthnkImParanoid (410494) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292977)

I don't click on a lizard icon to launch "mozilla", I click on (a poor image of) a flame, which maybe is supposed to look bird-like, maybe not. When I launch the mail and newsgroup reader, I click on a blue version of the same flame with some sort of square-ish shape in the foreground.

Seperating the mozilla suite into firebird, thunderbird, and whatever the other one is named was (and is) a great idea for usability, but it hurt their branding process. Not only do most people not recognize the icon (it is the only allowed app on a public terminal I support), the lizard icon isn't anywhere in the browser.

Re:I have to disagree here... (1)

exeunt (22854) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292984)

The Nike "round check-mark" is actualy represents the wings of the Greek Goddess Nike.

from nikebiz.com's faqs

Nike and the Swoosh

Question
Where did the words "Nike" and "Swoosh" come from?

Answer
Nike, pronounced NI-KEY, is the winged goddess of victory according to Greek mythology. She sat at the side of Zeus, the ruler of the Olympic pantheon, in Olympus. A mystical presence, symbolizing victorious encounters, Nike presided over history's earliest battlefields.

A Greek would say, "When we go to battle and win, we say it is Nike."

Synonymous with honored conquest, Nike is the twentieth century footwear that lifts the world's greatest athletes to new levels of mastery and achievement. The Nike 'Swoosh' embodies the spirit of the winged goddess who inspired the most courageous and chivalrous warriors at the dawn of civilization.

The SWOOSH logo is a graphic design created by Caroline Davidson in 1971. It represents the wing of the Greek Goddess Nike. Caroline Davidson was a student at Portland State University interested in advertising. She met Phil Knight while he was teaching accounting classes and she started doing some freelance work for his company.

Phil Knight asked Caroline to design a logo that could be placed on the side of a shoe. She handed him the SWOOSH, he handed her $35.00. In spring of 1972, the first shoe with the Nike SWOOSH was introduced..........the rest is history!

Spot on. (5, Interesting)

numbski (515011) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292719)

Unfortunately, workalikes are going to make consistency difficult.

Actually, Camino is really the only workalike left around. By workalike I mean is built from the same source code base, customized. I guess my terminology isn't very good here.

Standarize icons and names. Make them visually appealing. Make the default styles blend in with the OS/Window Manager.

I have to laugh, one example was of the two Mozilla apps placed prominently on the Start Menu right where IE and Outlook Express are by default. Is this an option in a full installer? If not, put it there. :) Make it an option to gently 'replace' IE and Outlook Express. Replace the shortcuts, import favorites, e-mails, and contacts by default. Import Server Settings, proxies, the whole nine yards.

Then people like myself, who run an ISP can standardize on Mozilla and when I send my installers out I can have them install the app. Even better, have a custom installer file so I can add in OUR servers and make them default in the Mail application.

Now no matter what platform my installers run into, they can install my Mozilla package and have the right settings. Minimalistic training required.

Re:Spot on. (2, Informative)

bay43270 (267213) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292928)

I have to laugh, one example was of the two Mozilla apps placed prominently on the Start Menu right where IE and Outlook Express are by default. Is this an option in a full installer? If not, put it there. :) Make it an option to gently 'replace' IE and Outlook Express. Replace the shortcuts, import favorites, e-mails, and contacts by default. Import Server Settings, proxies, the whole nine yards.

Windows XP does this by default. Those top two buttons are the user's default email program and browser. When you first start firebird, and it asks if you want it to be the default browser Windows swaps out the links for you.

We can't have 2.0 yet! (1, Funny)

Lord_Slepnir (585350) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292722)

based on past history, we need to have mozilla 1.999.99.99999a before we can have 2.0

Branding is Cruel (4, Funny)

MonkeyCookie (657433) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292724)

Branding is a cruel practice, and should only be used when necessary.

We need to weigh the pros and the cons. Mozilla will undergo a great deal of pain when we apply the branding iron and will no doubt scream in agony. However, we will be able to separate it from the other browsers when it escapes out onto the open range.

Re:Branding is Cruel (1)

neglige (641101) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292841)

Mozilla will undergo a great deal of pain when we apply the branding iron and will no doubt scream in agony.

Seeing how BIG Mozilla is, I'll plan to be WAY out of the way when you approach him with your branding iron...

Wouldn't it be easier to do it the "Wong-Style" and brand everything that is NOT Mozilla?

He makes a lot of good points... (3, Interesting)

Trillan (597339) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292726)

The server is getting pounded now, so it's tough to see the examples, but the icons and look for the Mozilla applications have always bugged me.

The Mozilla Thunderbird icon is nice in that it finally represents something related to the purpose of the application, but I find it too subtle in a lot of ways. Especially on a small Windows toolbar, where it looks a lot like a slipcase.

A visual facelift would be wonderful, though. Maybe get the Cute guy to work on it a bit... he's already proven himself competent, and having one person working on all the art wouldn't be a bad thing at all.

Re:He makes a lot of good points... (1, Funny)

cK-Gunslinger (443452) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292864)

Maybe get the Cute guy to work on it a bit...

*blushes*
"Aww shucks..."
.
.
.
Oh, you mean that guy who did the 'Qute' icons? Bah. =P

Any color but RED (1)

SunPin (596554) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292964)

Let's take a look at all successful organizations that use red as the prominent color in their brand...

Basically, nobody.

Red is, for the most part, the color of poison in nature and people tend to avoid red stuff. Red is a warming. Red means stop. Get the picture?

Mozilla rocks and it needs only minor adjustments in branding. As a previous poster mentioned, offering options to replace IE is a good start. Another step might be to change the default theme to "Modern" instead of that f'n ugly standard theme.

What was on the site. (0, Redundant)

mr_tommy (619972) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292730)

here we go :) Branding Mozilla: Towards Mozilla 2.0
Recommendations for the branding and visual identity of the Mozilla Foundation's product and project line - by Steven Garrity
Summary


This document is intended to offer suggestions to the Mozilla Foundation for the future of the Mozilla brand and visual identity. It is not intended to replace or redo the good work that has already been done in this area. Any suggestions made here that contradict, conflict, or replace guidelines, recommendation, or other work that has already been done reflects more my ignorance as the author than my opinion of what has been done.
As the Mozilla project moves towards an end-user focus from a developer and platform focus, the branding and visual identity of the organization and its software will need to be revisited. With the recent separation from Netscape and AOL, the need for the Mozilla project to have a brand of its own is all the more necessary.
Keep What Works

First, the Mozilla project has a lot going for it. It has a long heritage, reaching back to the early Netscape web browsers. The Mozilla name was an apt choice as a nod to the roots of the project. It is also unique (free of trademark issues), memorable, and relatively easy to spell and pronounce. Mozilla is a good name.
Lose What Doesn't Work

The Mozilla project is lacking a strong visual identity. The Mozilla lizard is widely recognized by developers and early-adopters on the web, but does not reach far beyond these groups. It is also used inconsistently across projects and products.
Any good visual identity builds on what is already established, while improving on the weaknesses of past. So too should the visual identity of the Mozilla project and products. A unified, consistent, but flexible brand and visual identity would be a great compliment to the technology developed under the Mozilla project. Products, Projects, and the Foundation
The broad scope of the Mozilla project has lead to confusion among end users. The term "Mozilla" is used to describe a web browser, a suite of applications, a platform, and an entire collection of software projects.
The recently formed Mozilla Foundation has already started the work of clarifying the terminology. The name of the Mozilla Foundation itself is a good and clear name that obviously defines the official organization that manages the Mozilla project.
They have also clarified the eventual naming of key Mozilla products; the current Mozilla Firebird project is the temporary development name for what will eventually be called Mozilla Browser; the current Mozilla Thunderbird project is the temporary development name for what will eventually be called Mozilla Mail. This is clear, simple, and smart.
Seemingly simple and obvious declarations like this are important for the success of the Mozilla project. People can't use software that they don't know how to ask for. People can't tell others about software that they don't know what to call.
The Mozilla Browser and Mozilla Mail names are clear, simple, and strong names for what will become the flagship products of the Mozilla project.
Version Numbers

The Mozilla application suite is approaching version 2.0 (version 1.5 at the time of this writing) and the independent applications are approaching 1.0 (Mozilla Firebird is at 0.71 and Mozilla Thunderbird is at a humble 0.3 at the time of this writing). Many have speculated that the official replacement of the application suite with the independent applications would be appropriate time to declare them version 2.0.
The change in focus and new independent applications certain does warrant a new version number.
The Mozilla Suite ver. 2.0:

* Mozilla Browser
* Mozilla Mail
* Mozilla Calendar
* Mozilla Composer

The Visual Identity So Far

As the software produced by the Mozilla project stabilizes and matures, so too should its visual identity. The Mozilla 1.0 suite was generally internally consistent. The browser, mail, and composer applications had a consistent style. This style was also reflected in the Modern theme used across the application. Unfortunately, the common use of the Classic theme, based on the look of Netscape 4, led to further brand confusion between Netscape and Mozilla.
As the Mozilla project transitions its flagship applications from the original Mozilla application sweet to the new independent applications (Mozilla Firebird, Mozilla Thunderbird, etc.), the general confusion about the project and products is reflected, understandably, in a disparate collection of logos and icons.
Time for a Change

It won't be long before these new standalone applications reach their 1.0 status and are ready to take over as the flagship products. This likely jump in the version number and the overall improvement and shift in the software is an appropriate time to improve and standardize the Mozilla visual identity.
Like any good visual identity, ours should reflect the reality of the products it represents. The new Mozilla applications each stand alone, yet they are related and are often used side-by-side. A common style element and style can be applied to icons and logos that are appropriate for each application.
The current icon for Mozilla Thunderbird appropriately puts the function of the application in the forefront, and the association of the brand (currently the blue flames) clearly on the periphery. This is a good model.
A proposed icon for Mozilla Firebird follows these same good ideas -- combining the primary functionality of the application (in this case represented by the globe -- a commonly used web-visual) with secondary branding (the Firebird "F").
Both of these are good examples in of themselves, but the problem is obvious when you see them side-by-side: there is no consistency. Let me be clear: this is not a criticism of the current icon designers -- both are very well done, and as I stated above, both are smartly executed. The current icon designers can not be expected to match when there is no defined common visual style. In addition, both applications are beta software, so the visual branding (so far) is secondary to their development.
The New Mozilla Visual Identity

A good brand and visual identity is more than just a good logo. The entire user experience of the software contributes to the brand including, among many other things, installation, operating system integration, polish, and performance.
Don't Just Look Good

The great programmers and engineers working on the Mozilla project don't need us to tell them that these areas are already taken care of. The Mozilla applications have been strong in stability and functionality and have been making great strides in terms of usability, performance, and polish. Good default settings, manageable options, and a simple intuitive interface have helped Mozilla Firebird become one of the best web browsers available long before reaching 1.0 status. Be a Good Desktop Citizen: Mesh with the OS
While the cross platform nature of the Mozilla applications is fantastic from the point of view of development, most users only have one operating system. Seemingly small issues, like moving the Options menu item from the Tools menu on Windows and Linux to the application menu on Mac OS X add up to make a big difference in the native feel of an application.
On the surface, the key visual differences between the three main operating systems are the icons and the application skins. The Mozilla applications already make elegant use of the windowing systems on all three platforms. As a result, the main window and window-control widgets already look as good on OS X as they do in Windows, KDE, or Gnome.
The three platforms differ in icon format and style. Fortunately, all three platforms have well defined specifications for both the format and the style of the icons. While the icons should share the same elements across all three platforms, they should adopt the details of the local environment.
All three platforms, Windows, Mac, and Linux (Gnome & KDE) have clear human interface guidelines. For example, the Apple HIG documentation clearly outlines the differences between application and document icons, and how file type text should appear on document icons. Apple even provides a high-quality template from which to build compliant document icons on the OS X CD. The most recent Mozilla document icon, while beautiful, breaks from a clear and simple tenet of the guidelines.
Stand Alone, and Together

While the Mozilla project is in the process of moving from an integrated suite to independent applications, the need for brand and visual consistency remains. The logos and icons of the individual applications should be designed in such a way that they can stand alone, or together. Leave Breathing Room and Make it Easy to Look Good
Many organizations have extensive branding and visual identity guidelines that are never followed. Too much detail, if not presented in a useful and engaging way is self-defeating. Rather than ruling the appearances of applications with an iron fist, a visual identity program should be a delight to developers; it can make it easy to look good.
You don't see, for example, many Mac developers complaining that they can't customize the look of the OS X windows, buttons, and other GUI controls. This is because when a developer puts together a native OS X application using default controls, it looks great by default. A simple "Hello World" window is displayed with beautifully anti-aliased text on a subtly-stripped frame. Even if the look of OS X isn't to your taste, you can not argue the benefits of such consistency.
So too should the Mozilla visual identity program help the developers of the Mozilla project. When designing and icon, for example, the standards put forth in an effective visual identity program can be seen not as limiting and invasive rules, but rather as good work already done for you. Learn from Others There is no shortage of prior art in the world of visual identities. Apple has long benefited from the strength of a fiercely consistent visual identity based on simplicity and elegance. While there are plenty of good examples, there are many examples of what not to do. Microsoft, in their move towards the rich colors and smooth surfaces of the Windows XP visual style did themselves a great disservice by not finishing the job. Many prominent icons in the system were left in the old pixel-sharp design of the Windows 9x series. The result is visually jarring and undermines the user's feeling of confidence and stability.
Sharing rather than selling

Open source software is often criticized as suffering from weaknesses in asthetics and user-interface because the software is often written by developers, for developers. The Mozilla project has already shown that an open source application can be attractive and usable. Better yet, we can take advantage of our collective ownership in the Mozilla products. Mozilla Firebird, for example, is the browser of choice for many of the world's best designers, interface developers, and icon artists. In trying to give an application the polish and elegance that we want for ourselves, we can help the Mozilla products become more pallatable to a wider audience. How? Start by Saying No.
Much of the improvement of the Mozilla Firebird browser over the main Mozilla browser came from the direction of a small group. They were good at saying no. In the beginning, it was their own project -- they could say no to whomever they pleased. By the time the project was moved to the forefront of the Mozilla project, they had earned the right to keep saying no by proving that their methods worked: Mozilla Firebird was becoming a great web browser.
Saying no, though, is not productive in of itself. It must be followed with direction. I propose the foundation of a Mozilla Branding and Visual Identity group that will be charged with the brand and visual identity of the Mozilla products. Let's Go!
I humbly suggest we get started on this work now (if it is already underway, then let's help out).
* Prepare simple and elegant (both in terms of style and delivery) Mozilla visual identity guidelines. Lets figure out how to make this lizard look good once and for all.
* As Mozilla Firebird and Mozilla Thunderbird approach 1.0 versions, let's begin preparing them for adherance with our Mozilla visual identity guidelines. Move away from relying on the names Firebird and Thunderbird in the visuals -- get them ready to look the part when they get their new names: Mozilla Browser and Mozilla Mail. (I expect this is already in the plans)
* Create a consitent icon set and About screen for the major apps (Mozilla Firebird &Thunderbird) (with appropriate OS native versions)

Re:What was on the site. (1)

Sir Haxa1ot (715348) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292774)

Mod him down!
Should've submitted as AC.

Mozilla is a development platform... (4, Interesting)

cibus (670787) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292731)

...isn't it?
Shouldn't this kind of efforts be aimed at the consumer projects forked off mozilla and not on mozilla itself? IMHO mozilla should be about robust technology.

Site slashdotted (-1, Redundant)

Sir Haxa1ot (715348) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292734)

Branding Mozilla: Towards Mozilla 2.0 Recommendations for the branding and visual identity of the Mozilla Foundations product and project line - by Steven Garrity Summary

This document is intended to offer suggestions to the Mozilla Foundation for the future of the Mozilla brand and visual identity. It is not intended to replace or redo the good work that has already been done in this area. Any suggestions made here that contradict, conflict, or replace guidelines, recommendation, or other work that has already been done reflects more my ignorance as the author than my opinion of what has been done.

As the Mozilla project moves towards an end-user focus from a developer and platform focus, the branding and visual identity of the organization and its software will need to be revisited. With the recent separation from Netscape and AOL, the need for the Mozilla project to have a brand of its own is all the more necessary.

Keep What Works

First, the Mozilla project has a lot going for it. It has a long heritage, reaching back to the early Netscape web browsers. The Mozilla name was an apt choice as a nod to the roots of the project. It is also unique (free of trademark issues), memorable, and relatively easy to spell and pronounce. Mozilla is a good name.

Lose What Doesnt Work

The Mozilla project is lacking a strong visual identity. The Mozilla lizard [slashdot.org] is widely recognized by developers and early-adopters on the web, but does not reach far beyond these groups. It is also used inconsistently across projects and products.

Any good visual identity builds on what is already established, while improving on the weaknesses of past. So too should the visual identity of the Mozilla project and products. A unified, consistent, but flexible brand and visual identity would be a great compliment to the technology developed under the Mozilla project.

Products, Projects, and the Foundation

The broad scope of the Mozilla project has lead to confusion among end users. The term Mozilla is used to describe a web browser, a suite of applications, a platform, and an entire collection of software projects.

The recently formed Mozilla Foundation has already started the work of clarifying the terminology [mozilla.org] . The name of the Mozilla Foundation itself is a good and clear name that obviously defines the official organization that manages the Mozilla project.

They have also clarified the eventual naming of key Mozilla products; the current Mozilla Firebird [mozilla.org] project is the temporary development name for what will eventually be called Mozilla Browser; the current Mozilla Thunderbird [mozilla.org] project is the temporary development name for what will eventually be called Mozilla Mail. This is clear, simple, and smart.

Seemingly simple and obvious declarations like this are important for the success of the Mozilla project. People cant use software that they dont know how to ask for. People cant tell others about software that they dont know what to call.

The Mozilla Browser and Mozilla Mail names are clear, simple, and strong names for what will become the flagship products of the Mozilla project.

Version Numbers

The Mozilla application suite is approaching version 2.0 (version 1.5 at the time of this writing) and the independent applications are approaching 1.0 (Mozilla Firebird is at 0.71 and Mozilla Thunderbird is at a humble 0.3 at the time of this writing). Many have speculated that the official replacement of the application suite with the independent applications would be appropriate time to declare them version 2.0.

The change in focus and new independent applications certain does warrant a new version number.

The Mozilla Suite ver. 2.0:

  • Mozilla Browser
  • Mozilla Mail
  • Mozilla Calendar
  • Mozilla Composer
The Visual Identity So Far

As the software produced by the Mozilla project stabilizes and matures, so too should its visual identity. The Mozilla 1.0 suite was generally internally consistent. The browser, mail, and composer applications had a consistent style. This style was also reflected in the Modern theme [mozillazine.org] used across the application. Unfortunately, the common use of the Classic theme [freshmeat.net] , based on the look of Netscape 4, led to further brand confusion between Netscape and Mozilla.

As the Mozilla project transitions its flagship applications from the original Mozilla application sweet to the new independent applications (Mozilla Firebird, Mozilla Thunderbird, etc.), the general confusion about the project and products is reflected, understandably, in a disparate collection of logos and icons [slashdot.org] .

Time for a Change

It wont be long before these new standalone applications reach their 1.0 status and are ready to take over as the flagship products. This likely jump in the version number and the overall improvement and shift in the software is an appropriate time to improve and standardize the Mozilla visual identity.

Like any good visual identity, ours should reflect the reality of the products it represents. The new Mozilla applications each stand alone, yet they are related and are often used side-by-side. A common style element and style can be applied to icons and logos that are appropriate for each application.

The current icon for Mozilla Thunderbird appropriately puts the function of the application in the forefront, and the association of the brand (currently the blue flames) clearly on the periphery. This is a good model.

A proposed icon for Mozilla Firebird follows these same good ideas combining the primary functionality of the application (in this case represented by the globe a commonly used web-visual) with secondary branding (the Firebird F).

Both of these are good examples in of themselves, but the problem is obvious when you see them side-by-side: there is no consistency. Let me be clear: this is not a criticism of the current icon designers both are very well done, and as I stated above, both are smartly executed. The current icon designers can not be expected to match when there is no defined common visual style. In addition, both applications are beta software, so the visual branding (so far) is secondary to their development.

The New Mozilla Visual Identity

A good brand and visual identity is more than just a good logo. The entire user experience of the software contributes to the brand including, among many other things, installation, operating system integration, polish, and performance.

Dont Just Look Good

The great programmers and engineers working on the Mozilla project dont need us to tell them that these areas are already taken care of. The Mozilla applications have been strong in stability and functionality and have been making great strides in terms of usability, performance, and polish. Good default settings, manageable options, and a simple intuitive interface have helped Mozilla Firebird become one of the best web browsers available long before reaching 1.0 status.

Be a Good Desktop Citizen: Mesh with the OS

While the cross platform nature of the Mozilla applications is fantastic from the point of view of development, most users only have one operating system. Seemingly small issues, like moving the Options menu item from the Tools menu on Windows and Linux to the application menu on Mac OS X add up to make a big difference in the native feel of an application.

On the surface, the key visual differences between the three main operating systems are the icons and the application skins. The Mozilla applications already make elegant use of the windowing systems on all three platforms. As a result, the main window and window-control widgets already look as good on OS X as they do in Windows, KDE, or Gnome.

The three platforms differ in icon format and style. Fortunately, all three platforms have well defined specifications for both the format and the style of the icons. While the icons should share the same elements across all three platforms, they should adopt the details of the local environment.

All three platforms, Windows, Mac, and Linux (Gnome & KDE) have clear human interface guidelines. For example, the Apple HIG documentation [apple.com] clearly outlines the differences between application and document icons, and how file type text should appear on document icons. Apple even provides a high-quality template from which to build compliant document icons on the OS X CD. The most recent Mozilla document icon, while beautiful, breaks from a clear and simple tenet of the guidelines [slashdot.org] .

Stand Alone, and Together

While the Mozilla project is in the process of moving from an integrated suite to independent applications, the need for brand and visual consistency remains. The logos and icons of the individual applications should be designed in such a way that they can stand alone, or together.

Leave Breathing Room and Make it Easy to Look Good

Many organizations have extensive branding and visual identity guidelines that are never followed. Too much detail, if not presented in a useful and engaging way is self-defeating. Rather than ruling the appearances of applications with an iron fist, a visual identity program should be a delight to developers; it can make it easy to look good.

You dont see, for example, many Mac developers complaining that they cant customize the look of the OS X windows, buttons, and other GUI controls. This is because when a developer puts together a native OS X application using default controls, it looks great by default. A simple Hello World window is displayed with beautifully anti-aliased text on a subtly-stripped frame. Even if the look of OS X isnt to your taste, you can not argue the benefits of such consistency.

So too should the Mozilla visual identity program help the developers of the Mozilla project. When designing and icon, for example, the standards put forth in an effective visual identity program can be seen not as limiting and invasive rules, but rather as good work already done for you.

Learn from Others

[actsofvolition.com] There is no shortage of prior art in the world of visual identities. Apple has long benefited from the strength of a fiercely consistent visual identity based on simplicity and elegance.

While there are plenty of good examples, there are many examples of what not to do. Microsoft, in their move towards the rich colors and smooth surfaces of the Windows XP visual style did themselves a great disservice by not finishing the job [actsofvolition.com] . Many prominent icons in the system were left in the old pixel-sharp design of the Windows 9x series. The result is visually jarring and undermines the users feeling of confidence and stability.

Sharing rather than selling

Open source software is often criticized as suffering from weaknesses in asthetics and user-interface because the software is often written by developers, for developers. The Mozilla project has already shown that an open source application can be attractive and usable. Better yet, we can take advantage of our collective ownership in the Mozilla products. Mozilla Firebird, for example, is the browser of choice for many of the worlds best designers, interface developers, and icon artists. In trying to give an application the polish and elegance that we want for ourselves, we can help the Mozilla products become more pallatable to a wider audience.

How? Start by Saying No.

Much of the improvement of the Mozilla Firebird browser over the main Mozilla browser came from the direction of a small group. They were good at saying no. In the beginning, it was their own project they could say no to whomever they pleased. By the time the project was moved to the forefront of the Mozilla project, they had earned the right to keep saying no by proving that their methods worked: Mozilla Firebird was becoming a great web browser.

Saying no, though, is not productive in of itself. It must be followed with direction. I propose the foundation of a Mozilla Branding and Visual Identity group that will be charged with the brand and visual identity of the Mozilla products.

Lets Go!

I humbly suggest we get started on this work now (if it is already underway, then lets help out).

  • Prepare simple and elegant (both in terms of style and delivery) Mozilla visual identity guidelines. Lets figure out how to make this lizard look good once and for all.
  • As Mozilla Firebird and Mozilla Thunderbird approach 1.0 versions, lets begin preparing them for adherance with our Mozilla visual identity guidelines. Move away from relying on the names Firebird and Thunderbird in the visuals get them ready to look the part when they get their new names: Mozilla Browser and Mozilla Mail. (I expect this is already in the plans)
  • Create a consitent icon set and About screen for the major apps (Mozilla Firebird &Thunderbird) (with appropriate OS native versions)

Mod Parent Down (0)

chadw17 (308037) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292832)

Mod him down!
Should've submitted as AC.

KISS (2, Insightful)

rf0 (159958) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292740)

As long as things are kept simple, light and work well then branding will only help. If that helps then I'm for it

Rus

Be a Good Desktop Citizen (1, Flamebait)

MagPulse (316) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292742)

I hope they follow this one. In Mozilla I have to consciously remember that the address bar does not work like every other Windows app I use, because it's not a Win32 Edit control, it's a unique Mozilla widget.

It's true the IE edit box works slightly differently -- you click it once to select everything, then again to select words. And you can double click sections to select just a word. In Mozilla it's totally different; you can't select words automatically, and you click once to select individually and then again to select it all (I think.. today I finally uninstalled it).

Also it's up to 1.5 and they still don't have middle-click scrolling. I've tried mozscroll and whatever the other two projects are. Three projects and they're all painful to use.

Re:Be a Good Desktop Citizen (1)

davidstrauss (544062) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292860)

Firebird's works just like IE's.

Re:Be a Good Desktop Citizen (1)

MagPulse (316) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292981)

You're right, it's very close. Looks like I have a Mozilla replacement.

Re:Be a Good Desktop Citizen (1)

illuvata (677144) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292907)

It's true the IE edit box works slightly differently -- you click it once to select everything, then again to select words. And you can double click sections to select just a word. In Mozilla it's totally different; you can't select words automatically, and you click once to select individually and then again to select it all (I think.. today I finally uninstalled it).
using firebird 0.7, the address bar works exactly like you just described. i click once to select everything, and i double click on a word to select it

Also it's up to 1.5 and they still don't have middle-click scrolling. I've tried mozscroll and whatever the other two projects are. Three projects and they're all painful to use.
works for me

Mozilla is developing just fine (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292758)

each release seems to get better over time. I think they are on the right track. I have introduced many to the Mozilla browser and they say it works fine for them. No crashing like IE does, and no major security risks like IE has. Plus Mozilla is multi platform, so it can be used on more than Windows and Linux, even OS/2 Users can enjoy it.

I just wonder what will happen with that Plugins lawsuit against Microsoft, how will that effect Mozilla?

Oh god not again (-1, Flamebait)

dragonfly_blue (101697) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292765)

If I have to read another 1999-era Red Herring/Business 2.0/dot bomb article about how "Netscape Navigator's success was due in large part to it's strong branding effort blah blah blah" I think I'll go freaking nutzo.

Who gives a crap whether or not an open source project has a good "brand"? It's not like people are trying to sell it. The ones who care, know about it already and aren't going to care whether or not it's a catchy name.

The only thing wrong with Mozilla is that people don't know how to pronounce it. Is it like Mod-zilla rhymes with Godzilla, or is it more like Mozzerella, or is it something else entirely?

Re:Oh god not again (2, Informative)

UrgleHoth (50415) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292939)

Is it like Mod-zilla rhymes with Godzilla, or is it more like Mozzerella, or is it something else entirely?

I hear most often pronounced Moe (of the Larry and Curly kind) and zilla, like z then illa as in gorilla.

Artical Text (2, Informative)

Sir Haxalot (693401) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292795)

Branding Mozilla: Towards Mozilla 2.0

Recommendations for the branding and visual identity of the Mozilla Foundation's product and project line - by Steven Garrity
Summary

This document is intended to offer suggestions to the Mozilla Foundation for the future of the Mozilla brand and visual identity. It is not intended to replace or redo the good work that has already been done in this area. Any suggestions made here that contradict, conflict, or replace guidelines, recommendation, or other work that has already been done reflects more my ignorance as the author than my opinion of what has been done.

As the Mozilla project moves towards an end-user focus from a developer and platform focus, the branding and visual identity of the organization and its software will need to be revisited. With the recent separation from Netscape and AOL, the need for the Mozilla project to have a brand of its own is all the more necessary.
Keep What Works

First, the Mozilla project has a lot going for it. It has a long heritage, reaching back to the early Netscape web browsers. The Mozilla name was an apt choice as a nod to the roots of the project. It is also unique (free of trademark issues), memorable, and relatively easy to spell and pronounce. Mozilla is a good name.
Lose What Doesn't Work

The Mozilla project is lacking a strong visual identity. The Mozilla lizard is widely recognized by developers and early-adopters on the web, but does not reach far beyond these groups. It is also used inconsistently across projects and products.

Any good visual identity builds on what is already established, while improving on the weaknesses of past. So too should the visual identity of the Mozilla project and products. A unified, consistent, but flexible brand and visual identity would be a great compliment to the technology developed under the Mozilla project.
Products, Projects, and the Foundation

The broad scope of the Mozilla project has lead to confusion among end users. The term "Mozilla" is used to describe a web browser, a suite of applications, a platform, and an entire collection of software projects.

The recently formed Mozilla Foundation has already started the work of clarifying the terminology. The name of the Mozilla Foundation itself is a good and clear name that obviously defines the official organization that manages the Mozilla project.

They have also clarified the eventual naming of key Mozilla products; the current Mozilla Firebird project is the temporary development name for what will eventually be called Mozilla Browser; the current Mozilla Thunderbird project is the temporary development name for what will eventually be called Mozilla Mail. This is clear, simple, and smart.

Seemingly simple and obvious declarations like this are important for the success of the Mozilla project. People can't use software that they don't know how to ask for. People can't tell others about software that they don't know what to call.

The Mozilla Browser and Mozilla Mail names are clear, simple, and strong names for what will become the flagship products of the Mozilla project.
Version Numbers

The Mozilla application suite is approaching version 2.0 (version 1.5 at the time of this writing) and the independent applications are approaching 1.0 (Mozilla Firebird is at 0.71 and Mozilla Thunderbird is at a humble 0.3 at the time of this writing). Many have speculated that the official replacement of the application suite with the independent applications would be appropriate time to declare them version 2.0.

The change in focus and new independent applications certain does warrant a new version number.

The Mozilla Suite ver. 2.0:

* Mozilla Browser
* Mozilla Mail
* Mozilla Calendar
* Mozilla Composer

The Visual Identity So Far

As the software produced by the Mozilla project stabilizes and matures, so too should its visual identity. The Mozilla 1.0 suite was generally internally consistent. The browser, mail, and composer applications had a consistent style. This style was also reflected in the Modern theme used across the application. Unfortunately, the common use of the Classic theme, based on the look of Netscape 4, led to further brand confusion between Netscape and Mozilla.

As the Mozilla project transitions its flagship applications from the original Mozilla application sweet to the new independent applications (Mozilla Firebird, Mozilla Thunderbird, etc.), the general confusion about the project and products is reflected, understandably, in a disparate collection of logos and icons.
Time for a Change

It won't be long before these new standalone applications reach their 1.0 status and are ready to take over as the flagship products. This likely jump in the version number and the overall improvement and shift in the software is an appropriate time to improve and standardize the Mozilla visual identity.

Like any good visual identity, ours should reflect the reality of the products it represents. The new Mozilla applications each stand alone, yet they are related and are often used side-by-side. A common style element and style can be applied to icons and logos that are appropriate for each application.

The current icon for Mozilla Thunderbird appropriately puts the function of the application in the forefront, and the association of the brand (currently the blue flames) clearly on the periphery. This is a good model.

A proposed icon for Mozilla Firebird follows these same good ideas -- combining the primary functionality of the application (in this case represented by the globe -- a commonly used web-visual) with secondary branding (the Firebird "F").

Both of these are good examples in of themselves, but the problem is obvious when you see them side-by-side: there is no consistency. Let me be clear: this is not a criticism of the current icon designers -- both are very well done, and as I stated above, both are smartly executed. The current icon designers can not be expected to match when there is no defined common visual style. In addition, both applications are beta software, so the visual branding (so far) is secondary to their development.
The New Mozilla Visual Identity

A good brand and visual identity is more than just a good logo. The entire user experience of the software contributes to the brand including, among many other things, installation, operating system integration, polish, and performance.
Don't Just Look Good

The great programmers and engineers working on the Mozilla project don't need us to tell them that these areas are already taken care of. The Mozilla applications have been strong in stability and functionality and have been making great strides in terms of usability, performance, and polish. Good default settings, manageable options, and a simple intuitive interface have helped Mozilla Firebird become one of the best web browsers available long before reaching 1.0 status.
Be a Good Desktop Citizen: Mesh with the OS

While the cross platform nature of the Mozilla applications is fantastic from the point of view of development, most users only have one operating system. Seemingly small issues, like moving the Options menu item from the Tools menu on Windows and Linux to the application menu on Mac OS X add up to make a big difference in the native feel of an application.

On the surface, the key visual differences between the three main operating systems are the icons and the application skins. The Mozilla applications already make elegant use of the windowing systems on all three platforms. As a result, the main window and window-control widgets already look as good on OS X as they do in Windows, KDE, or Gnome.

The three platforms differ in icon format and style. Fortunately, all three platforms have well defined specifications for both the format and the style of the icons. While the icons should share the same elements across all three platforms, they should adopt the details of the local environment.

All three platforms, Windows, Mac, and Linux (Gnome & KDE) have clear human interface guidelines. For example, the Apple HIG documentation clearly outlines the differences between application and document icons, and how file type text should appear on document icons. Apple even provides a high-quality template from which to build compliant document icons on the OS X CD. The most recent Mozilla document icon, while beautiful, breaks from a clear and simple tenet of the guidelines.
Stand Alone, and Together

While the Mozilla project is in the process of moving from an integrated suite to independent applications, the need for brand and visual consistency remains. The logos and icons of the individual applications should be designed in such a way that they can stand alone, or together.
Leave Breathing Room and Make it Easy to Look Good

Many organizations have extensive branding and visual identity guidelines that are never followed. Too much detail, if not presented in a useful and engaging way is self-defeating. Rather than ruling the appearances of applications with an iron fist, a visual identity program should be a delight to developers; it can make it easy to look good.

You don't see, for example, many Mac developers complaining that they can't customize the look of the OS X windows, buttons, and other GUI controls. This is because when a developer puts together a native OS X application using default controls, it looks great by default. A simple "Hello World" window is displayed with beautifully anti-aliased text on a subtly-stripped frame. Even if the look of OS X isn't to your taste, you can not argue the benefits of such consistency.

So too should the Mozilla visual identity program help the developers of the Mozilla project. When designing and icon, for example, the standards put forth in an effective visual identity program can be seen not as limiting and invasive rules, but rather as good work already done for you.
Learn from Others

There is no shortage of prior art in the world of visual identities. Apple has long benefited from the strength of a fiercely consistent visual identity based on simplicity and elegance.

While there are plenty of good examples, there are many examples of what not to do. Microsoft, in their move towards the rich colors and smooth surfaces of the Windows XP visual style did themselves a great disservice by not finishing the job. Many prominent icons in the system were left in the old pixel-sharp design of the Windows 9x series. The result is visually jarring and undermines the user's feeling of confidence and stability.
Sharing rather than selling

Open source software is often criticized as suffering from weaknesses in asthetics and user-interface because the software is often written by developers, for developers. The Mozilla project has already shown that an open source application can be attractive and usable. Better yet, we can take advantage of our collective ownership in the Mozilla products. Mozilla Firebird, for example, is the browser of choice for many of the world's best designers, interface developers, and icon artists. In trying to give an application the polish and elegance that we want for ourselves, we can help the Mozilla products become more pallatable to a wider audience.
How? Start by Saying No.

Much of the improvement of the Mozilla Firebird browser over the main Mozilla browser came from the direction of a small group. They were good at saying no. In the beginning, it was their own project -- they could say no to whomever they pleased. By the time the project was moved to the forefront of the Mozilla project, they had earned the right to keep saying no by proving that their methods worked: Mozilla Firebird was becoming a great web browser.

Saying no, though, is not productive in of itself. It must be followed with direction. I propose the foundation of a Mozilla Branding and Visual Identity group that will be charged with the brand and visual identity of the Mozilla products.
Let's Go!

I humbly suggest we get started on this work now (if it is already underway, then let's help out).

* Prepare simple and elegant (both in terms of style and delivery) Mozilla visual identity guidelines. Lets figure out how to make this lizard look good once and for all.
* As Mozilla Firebird and Mozilla Thunderbird approach 1.0 versions, let's begin preparing them for adherance with our Mozilla visual identity guidelines. Move away from relying on the names Firebird and Thunderbird in the visuals -- get them ready to look the part when they get their new names: Mozilla Browser and Mozilla Mail. (I expect this is already in the plans)
* Create a consitent icon set and About screen for the major apps (Mozilla Firebird &Thunderbird) (with appropriate OS native versions)

Re:Artical Text (1)

SimplexO (537908) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292827)

You know what'd be great? A mirror with pictures. So that we can understand what he is talking about when he says, "like these proposed icons".

Yes! Lets fire up the irons. (1)

FroMan (111520) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292806)

Infact, my guess is his webserver would be a good place to put the branding irons right about now. I can just see all these machines with a 'M' scorched into the side of them. That will keep the laptop rustlers away.

<apology type="for_slashdotted_server_troll"/>

Marketspeak (3, Insightful)

Devil (16134) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292809)

Branding is what you do when you haven't got a better product than the other guy, but you want people to think you do.

I agree that we should make Mozilla's icons a bit more consistent across applications and platforms, but I think the Mozilla lizard is just fine as far as logos go.

When you're going up against Microsoft and its built-in IE, you're fighting a losing game; the proper way to beat Microsoft is to play a different game than the one they want to play, because they own the field, the ball and they set the rules.

"Branding" is just another word for shining sh*t and calling it gold.

Re:Marketspeak (2, Interesting)

DavidH_Mphs (657081) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292993)

so the linux penguin is "shining shi*t and calling it gold" ?? An entity's identity _is_ its brand. Your post seems to convey that a consistent identity is not important as long as you're playing 'a different game' than the other guy. If that's the case, why do we need jerseys (i.e., all team members wear the same uniform, therefore projecting the same image) in sports? can't they all just wear whatever the hell they want?

A simple way to improve usability (4, Insightful)

grungeman (590547) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292810)

If you want to improve usability you can do it by using different icons for Mozilla itself and files associated with Mozilla (for example html-files). Currently I have Mozilla and a html file added to my Windows coolbar and they both use the same icon. InternetExplorer has the face "e" for IE itself, and a document with the "e" in front for associated files. Please do something similar for future versions of Mozilla. I really want to see from the icon if a file is a html file or the Mozilla executable.

Branding Works (2, Interesting)

DavidH_Mphs (657081) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292818)

branding is a great idea; however, it's an all-or-nothing game. Mozilla must either commit 100% to developing brand identity or not commit at all. Consistency in branding communicates something deeper to the public: a consistent brand image communicates [whether true or not] consistency in the entity itself. It shows that the entity has a common goal toward which they are working. When people see the brand's logos, they immediately recognize it as familiar. In order for Mozilla to be successful (which I hope / know it will be), the public must be able to identify it as one specific piece of software (or software package). For example, when people see a Mozilla icon/logo, I should be able to say, "oh, that's THE Mozilla." They shouldn't need to wonder, "hmmm... that looks kinda like a Mozilla icon I saw a long time ago, but I'm not sure." Consistent branding works: just think of the logos/icons for all of the following entities: Nike; Microsoft; Coca-Cola; Pepsi; AOL.

Great Idea... Some Other Suggestions (4, Insightful)

occamboy (583175) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292822)

Give Mozilla a unique selling proposition - something that you can tell a prospective user about why they must switch from IE to Mozilla, i.e., "You should switch to Mozilla because it does X", where X is something obviously good, and not easily done with IE. For 95% of prospective users, X !=
- cross-platform
- thwarts the evil M$
- is a really cool open-source project
- and so forth

Lose the dragon. It's difficult enough to introduce something new into a corporate environment, and mythical firebreathing critters are of no help. Doesn't have to be boring - just not too strange.

Branding or...bundling? (2, Interesting)

apoplectic (711437) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292846)

Given the current mechanics of software distribution and product awareness, I'd argue that a bundling approach to the Mozilla suite/browser would be more effective than looking for a replacement of the red lizard and the like. The lizard is dead; long live the lizard!

About the Web (1)

YanceyAI (192279) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292855)

I thik Mozilla could stand a more user-friendly Web site. Whatever look you come up with, the main page should be familiar and easy for non-developers to navigate. The home page is intimidating. If you want a chance to compete with IE and Netscape, make the main Web interface and download accessible for those users. Link to the 'community' for those who are interested in more than a just finding a browser.

I don't care what it looks like... (2, Interesting)

xaoslaad (590527) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292859)

As long as I can smash all the bars up in one small line. There is nothing more that I hate than having 15 bars covering half the screen with jumbo icons such that I cannot even see the page I'm wanting to look at.

I have File-Help, the back, forward, stop, and refresh buttons (all with no text & small icons) address bar(no idiotic go button to click), and google way off to the right to stop the popups. One line and the rest of the screen is web page.

Something along those lines is what I want from Mozilla, without having to create my own theme to get it. And since it's so small and inconspicuous it can be in black and white with icons drawn in mspaint freehand with a mouse.

Re:I don't care what it looks like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7292886)

you should try opera, then... at least if you register it... :)

Consistency (1)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292915)

Isn't self-consistency more important than consistency with the operating-system?

I'd rather have Mozilla (Firebird) working the same way on every operating-system. (no button-swapping) Or at least put the option to adjust the buttons to my DE-standard.

Biggest gripe with Mozilla team (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7292924)

They should NEVER have bothered with the developer names Firebird, Thunderbird, etc. From the start they should have called them Mozilla Browser, Mozilla Mail, etc. They have lost fast name recognition until the change does occur, and they have created a lot of confusion. I remember telling a lot of people to switch to Mozilla. I didn't tell anyone about Firebird because I knew the name wouldn't stick for long. Others on the other hand, have been name-dropping Firebird all over the place. Imagine when it's changed back. You will have Netscape, Mozilla, Firebird, Mozilla Firebird, etc. No one should be expected to keep up with the names like this. Most people will just stick to I.E. and not bother with avaluating what looks like too many choices to them

FYI (1)

asv108 (141455) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292926)

/. is the last place to seek advice about branding.

Uhmmm...Themes? (1, Interesting)

RedHat Rocky (94208) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292937)

Perhaps I'm just missing something here (like the images from the article), but who gives a crap about what Mozilla looks like when it's very easy to make your own or modify a theme? The whole point of Open Source is "Do What You Want", not "Do what they let you".

Using the word "brand" of course raises my anti-marketing hackles, but that's just me.

Does it really matter? (0, Troll)

tgd (2822) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292947)

Seriously... this isn't flame bait or trolling... Does it really matter what they do? Netscape as anything other than a service name doesn't exist any more. That brings the only significant source of exposure for any of Mozilla's stuff to an end. AOL isn't rolling out Gecko, nor are any other major ISPs.

Coding web applications that support IE (which virtually everyone has in a commercial or home environment) that also work with identical capability that customers have grown to expect in Mozilla can more than double the cost of a project. I know a bunch of major web-enabled applications that are in the process of removing Netscape 7.x+/Mozilla as required support platforms, because its just not seen as a platform that has any growth potential (unlike even six months ago).

The one place Mozilla could've gotten a significant exposure to the general public might've been the Mac, but its still an inferior browser in nearly every way to Safari/KHTML.

And don't get me wrong, Mozilla is all I use here, but I could care less how well it integrates into the OS, or how the general public views it, because I know perfectly well the general public could care less, and won't ever particularly care about it. Sucks, but Mozilla and Netscape took too long building a buggy bloated browser, and missed their chance once again.

Branding and Consitencey (1)

Cpl Laque (512294) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292960)

I always thought more open source software esp. the precompileds that come with major distributions should adapt a uniform gui. I know alot of people would complain about that but since it is open source you could custimize to your liking. But I am thinking about the sake of the project/company they NEED to have standard and uniform interfaces if they want to attract "Joe Sixpack" and end esp. PHB's and Corporations.
for example: If exec A uses mozilla 1.2 and then goes to show it off to exec B but now mozilla is up to 1.5 and think are "different" he is going to leave an unfavorable impression of mozilla.

Here is a good example win95/98/se/me/nt/2k what is different to the user? Nothing that matters: It looks and acts the same(minus stability).

Press Kit (5, Interesting)

Jahf (21968) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292968)

Interestingly, I had requested a press kit or at least press-ready logos for Mozilla awhile back for inclusion in a presentation I'm writing. Got a quick response saying it sounded feasible, but nothing since. I ended up scouring the web and finding a lizard picture but it wasn't the best quality for the resolution I need.

If Mozilla had a full press kit explaining the project and including press-ready logos I think they'd see more coverage (and more serious coverage) of their package in the mainstream press.

Additionally, it is quite inexpensive to send out a press release over the newswires. When the Thunderbird/Firebird products are 1.0'ed (or 2.0'ed) ... send out a press release along with a link to the press kit. Heck, if you can get a contribution pool (I think wire releases are something like $100), make a press release each time a major release occurs.

It won't make front page headlines, but it would be alot better than the current situation.

Bigger problem (5, Insightful)

Sir Haxa1ot (715348) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292969)

The real problem with browser branding is that currently people fail to see the browser as something which should be branded. It's a utility product that allows you to view sites, and that's about it. Who cares what's beneath?

By establishing IE as a client-run COM control, Microsoft only further implemented that idea. You can hardly brand something that people view as a tool.

For example, what sports cars do you have in your garage? Ferrari or Porsche I'd assume. And what's the brand of your kitchen sink? Eeeh, who cares, some crap made in China and purchased at Home Depot. The same with the browser - when the sites are more or less the same, and it's the sites you care about, who cares what brand the browser is.

a little late (1)

jtilak (596402) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292971)

I have been saying this for about three years now. Well, ever since the opensource mozilla project started, however long that is. Mozilla should be a household name by now, but it's not. Maybe they would have more than 2% market share today and AOL wouln't have practically dumped them if they had focused on PR more. Better late than never, I guess.

schools (2, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 10 years ago | (#7292991)

One place i see for Mozilla or firebird to explode is in public schools. I always see teachers struggle with IE because of pop-ups and it's random startups to windows update, where it automatically starts downloading patches.

Furthermore, kids in the schools go online and download Kazaa and all sorts of games. I know for a fact if Mozilla made a EDU version that had the properies password protected, and the ablility to disable downloading certain files (so you can still get PDFs, but not mp3s for instance) or files that don't link to a browser plugin, it would take about 5 minutes to convince people to install it and remove IE.

IE allows you to disable downloading files that don't open in a plugin, and I believe that's the only thing IE has on Mozilla to this point.
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