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3 Marketing Lessons from Mozilla's Open Design Process

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Earlier last week, Mozilla’s new logo was making headlines in the design and technical world.

While the end product always steals the spotlight, the development of Moz://a was one of the more interesting rebrands of 2016-17. Open-sourced, remarkably transparent, and littered with criticism, their process proved successful in not only picking a logo, but reemerging from the ashes with an ingenious marketing campaign. Take note everyone, there’s a few pointers we can all take from Mozilla’s playbook.

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Embrace the hate

Everyone's a critic. Your uncle, neighbor, barista and electrician all have an opinion, even if they’re ill-informed. As Mozilla found out, open design means open for interpretation. A lot of feedback was negative. Some people didn't like any of the options presented. But this vocal community spilled over across multiple channels and mediums as bloggers, columnists, and influencers picked up the story.

Mozilla didn’t have to worry about truly bad press, because a new logo has never killed anyone (we think). In the end, the hoards of blogs, tweets, posts and comments about this open design process boosted the conversation about Mozilla to stratospheric levels. Prior to this experiment, when was the last time you muttered the word Mozilla? Did you know their original logo was a cynically grinning dinosaur?

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Well now you do.

People dig transparency

Giving customers an insight into the inner workings of your business is never a bad idea, unless you work for the US government or Enron. If you give consumers a peek behind the curtain, it helps them gain a deeper understanding of your business and connect emotionally. It humanizes brands and breaks down barriers that make businesses and companies appear as inanimate entities.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of exposing these stories and processes is creating trust between the consumer and your brand. A no frills, "this is how we do things" approach makes your business more approachable and trustworthy. Transparency builds trust, and trust fosters brand loyalty.

Also, consumers are inherently attracted to stories and experiences that they perceive as rare. Have you ever gone on a brewery tour? Maybe you've watched or read about a brand's process of creating a new product. Give them a taste of the secret sauce to trigger their dopamine loop, and make them want to come back for more.

Strict brand guidlines aren't for everyone

2016 was a popular year for rebrands, with several high profile companies jumping on the ultra-simplified, flat design bandwagon. Not to be overlooked, another rising trend that specifically caters to a younger generation, is logo and icon flexibility. Strict brand standards are still the norm, but the trend towards creative flexibility in visual identity allows companies to break free of stuffy corporate vibes and emulate core brand principles.

  • Mozilla - “In digital applications, ever-changing imagery represents the unlimited bounty of the online ecosystem. Dynamic imagery allows the identity of Mozilla to evolve with the Internet itself, always fresh and new.”
  • Pandora - “And as Pandora continues to evolve the most personal music experience, our new look embraces the dynamic range of sound and color, visualizing the energy and emotion that artists pour into the creation of music, and that we feel as listeners. Our dynamic brand is composed of form, color and pattern, which we implemented into the new P icon and serves as your portal into the unique and diverse range of music you love.”

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  • Taco Bell - “In what the brand terms an “evolution, not revolution,” the new logo mirrors the new restaurant strategy: one size doesn’t fit all. In this modern take, color makes a splash and allows customization through patterns and textures, giving usage flexibility while maintaining its iconic framework.”

Mozilla’s rebrand has been met with the typical criticism, praise, and indifference that is to be expected. After all, rebrands are a tricky beast, with multiple stakeholders, customers and consumers to please. Regardless of the critics, from a marketing perspective Mozilla won this battle. However, they still have a long ways to go if they really want to regain relevance in the rapidly escalating browser war. Maybe, just maybe, this will give them the boost that they need.

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