Branding Mapillary

Overview

Responsible for all brand and visual communications: website, social media, stationery, marketing videos. Established direction and led the brand design team.

Date

2016-2020

Outcome

Oversaw two complete brand refresh over the course of 4 years. Helped create a highly flexible, easy to use visual system.

My role

  • Creative direction and management
  • Visual system design
  • Visual design
  • Motion design
  • Website design

What I've learned

Brand design is a different discipline. After a certain scale it makes more sense for the design team to specialize for specific roles: product / brand design. Brand exploration requires a considerable amount of dedicated time.

Beginnings

There were a few consistent elements already in the brand: the logotype was just changed to the "compass" version and the use of green, as a primary color, was also seeing wide adoption. left

I took a relaxed approach by not changing much of the existing system, just experimenting with it and iterating over the previous version. right, and bottom

When we started to scale the design team it became apparent that in order to produce consistent brand design work, we'll have to think about our brand design system in a holistic way.

The dotcompass

I carried out a series of steps to improve the wordmark logotype. First, I derived a compact version out of the existing logo 1 then created a proportional system for the wordmark. 2

1 The need for a concise, reusable, recognizable insignia type element was solved by framing the "M" compass against a circle. This reinforced the "beads on a string" idea of Mapillary: every image that you can select in our platform resides behind a dot on the map.

2 The "dotcompass" was used as a reference point for constructing the wordmark logotype. This way I could generate the margins around the logo to keep a safe distance. Center aligning the wordmark logo was also easier: you only had to think about the bounding box.

The dotcompass could be used on any surface. It fit inside a square, worked on light and dark backgrounds. It became so successful we ended up trademarking it:

The Highlight

Part of a visual brand system is to find graphic elements and figure out a way they're supposed to work together. By having a system of colors and visual elements, the brand designer could take those and create derivative art.

Our first brand system was called the "highlight" which used the following principles:

– a combination of four colors that worked together
– highlighted text over arbitrary backgrounds
– tinted images based on the key colors

By 2019 the highlight look became worn out and dull. For the next version I wanted to pursue a more flexible, yet appealing visual system.

Introducing: doodles

My desire was to not deviate too much of the previous brand: keep what was working and improve that could be improved. (This new visual system was also known as "brand 1.1" reflecting on the iterative nature.)

By keeping the dark blue (black-ish ink color), contrasted with white, the result became an interesting, modern combination. The green remained our primary color, but wasn't to be used for highlights.

The doodles, or children like drawings, have an interesting property because they can create a flexible way for anyone to mix them.

How would this new system work with our existing presentation deck?

To solve this I considered the basic use case: convert typical slides into this new theme 1 and think about building an easily accessible library of artwork. 2

Examples available from our master template:

Sample of our doodle library that anyone, designers and non-designers, could take to remix new content:

Explainer video

Talking to an audience for the first time not familiar with our product has been a constant challenge. To solve this we decided to commission a design agency to produce our first product explainer video.

I collaborated with marketing to drive the initiative and process: agency research and selection, budget, brief, kick-off storyboard, and creative direction.

Our goal for the final delivery was to match the style of our landing pages just as if it had been developed internally.

The released version.

Additional credit: doodle illustrations by Stephen Duffy and Brenna Higgins. Explainer video by Epipheo.