Today Autodesk announced the launch of their new branding. Their previous branding was simple, elegant & professional; their logo was their name. There’s no messing about with that approach, it’s nice and honest, but it was a bit boring. Over the last couple of years Autodesk have gone from being a company supplying purely professional 3D software products, to one covering a lot of its potential customer bases. Thankfully they’ve got a lot more social by creating free & micro cost apps not just for mobile devices but also for good old fashioned PC’s and Mac’s, as well as becoming noticeably more active within the community. 2 years ago Autodesk had more than 10 million professionals. Today, covering all their software, tools, apps, services and online communities they have over 100 million. That’s 100 million people made up of consumers, prosumers, educators and Autodesk’s long term professionals. It seems logical when you consider this dramatic shift for Autodesk to rebrand and refocus their vision.
“The new Autodesk is not just a surface change, but a reflection of how we are evolving our business”
noted Chris Bradshaw, Autodesk Senior Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer who led the brand refresh. In the company’s press release he went on to say, “Our new visual identity includes a logomark with the Autodesk name for the first time in more than a decade. A talented team of Autodesk designers created the new branding and found their inspiration in origami. The style beautifully shows the convergence of art and science, form and function, aptly representing the Autodesk software portfolio.”
That broad range of creative people using multiple Autodesk tools represents a rich ecosystem of demanding users. These guys & gals really know what they want and aren’t afraid to demand it, no matter how much they pay (even if its free). A pretty handy result is a massive foundation of data & feedback allowing broad usability studies to take place. Lessons about what, how and where the product gets used can be quickly learned when you have a user base of 100 million. The best part is, this knowledge can be leveraged to improve the professional 3D software products, which very much remain Autodesk’s bread and butter when it comes to revenue.
I had the pleasure of listening to Julie Hayes (Sr. Manager, Brand Programs at Autodesk) talk about Autodesk’s new brand. It was really cool to hear how genuinely excited she was about this change, however I wasn’t able to transcribe her word for word due to a bad recording. Although I can’t reveal everything, I’d like to summarize some of her comments below.
Julie rightly reinforced that Autodesk already has a strong brand, so this wasn’t just about refreshing its appearance but they want the new brand to demonstrate innovation, creativity and their vision to help people to continue to imagine, design and create a better world. By doing so it aims to improve the connection with the broader skill set & view points I’ve already covered above.
She went on to detail some of the visual changes which will become more and more obvious over the coming weeks leading up to the launch of the 2014 product portfolio. First of all Autodesk’s logo has changed for the better, you may have already noticed it [GRIN]. Julie pointed out that its the first time in over a decade that Autodesk has had a logo in front of their name and as you would expect, as that logo starts to gain recognition you may see the word Autodesk drop away as time passes. Naturally, as is the case most years now, the product’s iconography will change and fall into line with this new look. It’s a given then to complete the transition you will also note changes in the imagery, typography and colour palettes along with several other subtle changes here and there over the next few months.
One of the things which interested me in Julie’s talk was her explanation of where they drew inspiration for the new brand. First and foremost there was a strong belief that Autodesk’s employees should create the new brand without using any external agencies. This meant they were able to tap into Autodesk’s internal creativity (which they have plenty of) and utilize their own products (once again Autodesk as drinking their own cool aid).
“The winning inspiration in the end was ‘Origami’. Since Origami represents the convergence of art science and math, this also spoke to Autodesk’s broad product portfolio, playful like tinkerbox & technical like Revit & Inventor. It seemed fitting and inspired internal designers as they were developing the new look and feel”. Julie Hayes
Having been part of the beta program I’ve been privy to the new look, all the imagery and iconography. Initially I thought the imagery was out of place and I didn’t really get the abstract aspect. However, having looked at it more and more over the last 10 days, along with listening to a passionate presentation of the brand, it actually makes complete sense and its really grown on me. If you don’t immediately like it, I think you will in time. But one thing is certain that new Autodesk logo is swanky and fresh. I love it.