Under the Hood: Behind the Brand Refresh
Waze’s Head of Creative on the community-driven brand refresh
Under the Hood gives you an inside scoop on Waze, straight from the people working on it every day.
Traffic is the worst. It makes us feel powerless and out of control. At Waze, we work to change that. We do whatever we can to make people’s time on the road more rewarding. Sometimes that’s adding functional features to the app, like helping you plan a drive or find the cheapest gas around. Sometimes, we just have to bring the fun, like adding a celebrity voice to guide you as you navigate. If we can evoke a smile every now and again, we all win.
We take our cues from our Community—the millions of people who hate traffic, but know they can do something to fix it. When you hit a pothole and report it, that report doesn’t really help you in the moment, but it does help all those people behind you. And when our volunteer Map Editors add toll prices to the map, it’s all for the benefit of people they’ll probably never meet. It’s the most helpful, kindest, positive social network out there.
So when we decided to refresh our brand, it became more about revealing who we are, not reinventing anything. We want everyone who uses Waze to feel like they’re part of this community, not just a “user.” We wanted to bring the joy we bring to people on the road into the building blocks of the brand.
A Brand that Belongs to the Community
Throughout the refresh process we brought the Community into the conversation, to understand how they feel about the brand, and what more they’d like to see from it. Our conversations took many forms, from regular meetups to a study conducted with 13,000 drivers to asking our rather opinionated Waze-loving friends their opinions.
These discussions made two things clear: we needed to build on elements that have always been part of the brand, but bring consistency and simplicity to them, and we needed to give our community more avenues to express themselves through the brand. This started with their experience of the app and our mission to make their time on the road more fun.
Driving Change with Bold Designs
The exciting thing about the refresh is that we are not just choosing one color; we’re choosing colors. We can really showcase our uniqueness and our joy through the color palette, from the Moods and icons in the app to our website and social channels. We weren’t interested in being a clean, minimal, “elevated” tech brand because we’re not just about technology. We have the community with us. We need to reflect that. In that sense, we’re a little bit “un-tech” in our approach. We’re chasing something that’s friendly, organic, and joyful. A lot of brands may be scared of so much color. We’re not.
The fundamental idea of Moods has always been the same: to reflect how users feel on the road. We had a lot of fun exploring the range of emotions people feel out there. A dozen drivers could all feel different in the exact same situation, so we set about capturing as many of those feelings as possible. This was critical to us, because the Moods act as a visual reminder of all of us out there, working together.
There is such an expansive world there for us to dig into, with so many unique emotions and feelings that we can represent through the Moods (our first set of 30 is just the beginning). We want to represent all different types of people in all different moments on their journey, and make people smile…even when there might not be much to smile about.
All the elements of our refreshed brand are based on a grid system to give us consistency across a range of assets, from product icons to social posts to email templates. This grid comes to life most with our new block-by-block system.
The system represents the in-between spaces on the map, the places where roads aren’t. It brings a fundamental Waze feature — our Community-built map — into our designs. And what’s great about the in-between spaces is that they come in a wonderfully infinite array of shapes and sizes. At Waze, we walk the line between fun and functional, tech and people. We live happily in this slightly weird world we’ve created.
With this refresh we’re celebrating the Community, helping people understand what Waze is, and making ourselves more recognizable in the world, but it’s just the beginning. I’m excited to see us grow into an even stronger community that inspires new product features, helps even more people avoid those potholes, cars on the shoulder, hazards in the streets, traffic jams, construction sites, and all around, just makes life on the road better for people.