Is Open-Sourced Design Any Good? Mozilla Is Finding Out

Check out the seven finalists in the company’s completely transparent search for a new identity.

Mozilla, the company behind the third-most popular web browser Firefox, is a nonprofit organization with a mission of promoting freedom, transparency, and collaboration on the Internet. So when Mozilla decided two months ago to design a new identity for itself, it did so in a very Mozillan way: it opened the design process up to its 30,000-developer strong community, asking for feedback on every step of the process.


Now, in collaboration with outside agency Johnson Banks, which is overseeing the design process in response to feedback from the community, the earliest designs are in. This week, Mozilla has published draft versions of several new possible identities, each one based off of a different theme, ranging from the Godzilla-inspired origins of Mozilla’s name, the tribal nature of the company’s supporters, the open ideal of Mozilla software, and more. And some of them aren’t half bad.

The Eye
Perhaps the logo most clearly tied into Mozilla’s heritage–Mozilla’s earliest logo was a Tyrannosaurus head–The Eye puts the dilating pupil of a thunder lizard right in the middle of the company’s name. According to Mozilla’s creative director Tim Murray, Mozilla envisions The Eye as working well in animated form, and being symbolic not of surveillance, but the idea that Mozilla has its eye open for the best interests of its users.

An attempt to evoke the tribal-like qualities of Mozilla’s developer community, the Tribal identity uses colorful, textile-like patterns to not only spell out the company’s name, but also evoke the feeling of a circuit board diagram.


Open Button
An identity based upon the open button of an elevator door, the meaning of this logo isn’t obscure. It’s a direct callout to Mozilla’s mission to help create a freer, more open Internet. Murray says one of the reasons he likes this identity is because it uses a symbol that everyone is familiar with–but which, surprisingly, hasn’t been used in any corporate branding so far.

The safe, geeky logo, Murray says the point of this identity is “to show that Mozilla is indivisible from the Internet” by associating it with the http:// protocol field that precedes every web address–albeit, admits Murray, at the possible expense of getting across Mozilla’s warmth as a nonprofit.

Wireframe World
This identity, which reduces the Mozilla logo to a wireframe M, looks like a sticker Mr. Robot might slap on the back of his laptop, or a sign at MIT Media Lab. Murray says that it’s supposed to represent the interconnectedness of Mozilla, and the world wide web as a whole.


The Impossible M
An Escher-esque design that conveys the “M” in Mozilla as an impossible shape, like a devil’s tuning fork or a penrose triangle. Murray says it’s meant to represent the designer side of the Mozilla community.

Mozilla’s most colorful and playful potential identity, Flik-Flak uses a folding origami logo to get across Mozilla’s appeal to open-source makers and DIYers.

Now that Mozilla has made these seven draft identities public, the organization will begin to collect feedback from the community. “We want to know a few things,” says Murray. “We view Mozilla as gutsy, optimistic, buoyant, and existing for good, so first: which identities fit that criteria? But we also want to know which identities our users feel will be most scalable, which will resonate most strongly, and which will stand the test of time?”


Once that feedback is collected, Murray says Mozilla and Johnson Banks will concentrate on further fleshing out up to three of the most popular identities, before officially announcing Mozilla’s new logo in September. People who want to contribute to the feedback process can do so here. Not to unduly influence things, but hey, everyone go speak out against Protocol and Open Button, stat! Because seriously, man: woof.

[All Images: courtesy Mozilla]