Thursday, September 20, 2007

Photoshop's new logo

With all the excitement surrounding the release of Adobe CS3 (and the collective gnashing of teeth over how much worse than CS2 it performs on on our much-loved pre-Intel macs) we were surprised to see Adobe announce this week that it is going to rebrand the software suite's flagship product, Photoshop.

Photoshop has come a long way since its quiet beginnings in 1987 as a graduate student's side project. Somewhere along the way, through a dozen major releases and consolidation into the ever-expanding suite of Adobe's creative products, Photoshop's unique brand identity was submerged. But in its most recent incarnation, featuring an elaborate collection of functionally different flavors (Photoshop CS3, Photoshop CS3 Extended, Photoshop Lightroom, Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Album Starter Edition, and soon Photoshop Express) Adobe has wisely seen the value a unique Photoshop brand might bring to its software offerings.

The blogosphere has begun commenting on the new mark already. And while most critics appreciate the need for a distinct Photoshop brand and approve of the new tagline, the logo mark has receved very mixed reviews. Uncertain whether the mark is meant to represent a dialogue bubble, a stylized P, or both, many commentators have noted its similarity to the vast suite of Microsoft Office product logos for Mac. And, perhaps more to the logo's detriment, its reliance on the rapidly aging Apple Aqua graphic style.

For our part, we were struck by the conceptual discontect between the logo and the product. As a dialogue bubble and as a polished vector-like shape, the mark is little reminiscent of the type of image and pixel-heavy work users expect from Adobe Photoshop. We immediately found ourselves asking if someone unfamiliar with the product (and we're sure that person is out there somewhere ... just no where near here) would in turn associate the application's utility with either a communication or illustration service.

Indeed, it is only in the flat versions of the logo that the styled P shape becomes clear and more meaningful, though still straying away from image manipulation and retouch toward vector illustration. We can't help but wonder what this logo harbingers in terms of other Adobe brand redesigns.

Despite these criticisms, the logo will live or die in execution. So we'll be keeping our eyes open for new packaging, screenshots, and websites that exploit the new logo to the fullest. But regardless of the logo's reception, one thing is nearly certain and, to wit, ironic. The new logo was almost certainly created in Illustrator.

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