My Thoughts on Dropbox’s Rebrand

Image Credit: Dropbox

I’m admittedly rather late to the party with this reaction. A few weeks back, Dropbox revealed their new design system.

They went from branding like this

To this

Now visually that’s a big shift in style, going from simple playful imagery to a more postmodern artistic look. Understandably, the reveal gained a lot of coverage online and to put it mildly it wasn’t all good news (is it ever with major rebrands?).

There was a fair old bunch of negativity on social media and honestly my initial reaction was along the same lines. At first glance I was thinking “what the hell Dropbox?” but now that I’ve had plenty time to properly analyse the decision and what their goals are, my opinion has changed a lot.

Why did they rebrand?

So, the main thing they’ve done with this rebrand is target creative professionals, they want Dropbox to be the place where they back up their files, collaborate and send deliverables.

I’m sure Dropbox would have carried out robust user research and found out a lot of designers and other creative types were using their product.

This makes perfect sense, we are probably the most likely candidates to have large files that we want to back up online. We all know Macbook Pros and other ultrabooks don’t come with an awful lot of storage space these days — Entry-level machines usually come with a paltry 128GB SSD — so having other storage options is often a necessity.

Old sign up (left) and new (right)

When Dropbox first started out, it was primarily marketed as a safe place to backup files that meant a lot to you personally. Over the years it quietly added professional and business tiers as well as Paper, which allowed collaboration between different users on the same files.

You could say that now it’s come full circle with a noisy marketing campaign specifically appealing to the needs of the modern creative professional — a lucrative demographic — where cloud based storage is a perfect fit.

The new logo incorporates 5 isometric squares (6 if you count negative space) in a more open take of the previous box logo. You can still see the box shape but it can be interperated in different ways too.

Dropbox describes it as “Our old logo was a blue box that implied, “Dropbox is a great place to store stuff.” The new one is cleaner and simpler. And we’ve evolved it from a literal box, to a collection of surfaces to show that Dropbox is an open platform, and a place for creation”.

Now that I’m used to it I think the new branding looks kind of cool. It’s a little loud and strange, maybe even chaotic looking in parts. They could have visually communicated creative energy in a more subtle way but the point of that is to make Dropbox stand out amongst similar companies.

With a lot of tech companies sticking to white backgrounds with one secondary colour, it’s refreshing to see a website with various colour combinations, even if some of them are a little jarring.

Let’s not forget the ’70s inspired typeface

Dropbox definitely deserve plaudits for doing something outside of the typical minimalist templates we’ve seen time and time again.

Seeing the rebrand, had me logging in for the first time in quite a while. For what it’s worth, I’ll probably be using it more often.

How has the product changed?

Well for the most part it is the same as you remember it. I don’t expect the look and feel to change but we can expect some new creativity-focused features.

The first of these new features,Showcase launched last week. It allows you to show off your work and share it with others. It kind of comes across as a fancier looking Evernote. It seems like a nice way to present work to a client but it’s only available on the most premium price plan and that’s the problem with Dropbox. It’s a decent product but the pricing is too high (19.99 a month for Professional).

Dropbox Showcase

I think many users will try and squeeze as much out of the free service as possible. Despite storage space being a lowly 2GB there is still features that are gratis, you can still use Paper for collaboration for example. That 2GB certainly won’t last long at all though. Google Drive gives all Google account holders 15GB of storage for free, still not very much but a good free option if you already have one set up.

Conclusion

Marketing to creative professionals is a perfect fit for the service. Some of the new visual elements on the homepage, particularly the logo, really capture attention and inspire creativity.

It’s still the same easy to use cloud based storage system as before but with new features to enhance creativity and workflow rolling out.

The pricing is expensive, those who are serious about storing big files online might be better looking at the prices of other options or going with Dropbox’s middle of the road Plus package, the max storage Dropbox currently offers is 1TB which I don’t think is enough for the price of Professional.

There’s plenty of effective free methods for presenting work to a client, getting real time feedback on a document etc. So Dropbox needs to give users a good reason to upgrade to its most expensive package. The artistic branding certainly captures our attention and makes us want to use the product but its not enough to sell £19.99 monthly subscriptions , it’s lacking a killer feature.

If they bump the storage up to 2 or 3TB in Professional and continue to introduce new features, they could be on to something big.


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