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Firefox: The Evolution of a Brand (blog.mozilla.org)
218 points by migueldemoura on June 11, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 106 comments

Personally, I think this is very silly.

Firefox has a stronger brand than Mozilla, so they're calling these all "Firefox XX"..

But Firefox doesn't have a brand as a generic set of utilities, it has a brand as a web browser, and this weakens that.

It reminds me of the articles about "Charging for Firefox" that were released earlier this week. If instead they had said "Mozilla is planning to offer a co-branded Mozilla VPN", it would have been clearer, and fewer people would have been confused about if the browser cost money.

Putting everything under the Firefox brand dilutes it to meaninglessness.

I guess the common thread is that these services complement your browsing experience, i.e. they'd often be used in conjunction with Firefox - as opposed to, say, Thunderbird. But yeah, the main reason is likely the stronger Firefox brand, and the biggest risk is indeed of weakening that brand. Then again, it could bolster it as well: Firefox Send is a very useful service, and can be used to make people familiar again with Firefox as the relevance of the browser has declined.

(The specific issue with the "Charging for Firefox" articles, was, I think, that the root source of that was an interview with a German website, causing details to be lost in translation.)

That's one aspect. The deeper problem though, is that all the other products offered under the firefox brand are revenue failures, and no one really uses them beyond those who already use the firefox browser anyway.

And that also explains the move. If they had a great second product, it would stand for itself, no matter the name.

This move is a desperate attempt of saving a product that is becoming increasingly meaningless (the browser).

- Firefox Monitor is simply a copy of HIBP, so no innovation here. It's a nice-to-have, and maybe would have it's use case if it was directly implemented inside the browser.

- Firefox Lockwise doesn't have many use cases, and apparently also not many users. It is hard to know what kind of product it wants to be, or what kind of problem it wants to solve, as it is no competition for the more well known password management tools.

- Firefox Send offers a quick way to send some files. Not bad, but already offered by countless competitors.

So basically all three products are simply nice-to-have gimmicks, they are no stand-alone products and they certainly don't need a branding.

They all have in common that in the current state you can't make any money with them, and Mozilla doesn't monetize them.

What they do instead, is use each of the above services to get people to register for a Firefox Account, in an attempt to bring people into the "Firefox ecosystem".

And this brings us to the problem with Mozilla. They want to be part of the big players, but they are just a 1000 employee company.

They will never establish an ecosystem.

They will never profit off the email addresses they collect with Send, Lockwise, and Monitor.

They will not be profitable with Pocket.

Everything they do to save their brand from going under is, at the moment, a money-losing business.

Ironically the only product that is indeed at least a stand-alone product, namely Pocket, is not included in the re-branding.

The products you mention are not meant to be money-makers. They all contribute to making internet users safe, which is part of Mozilla's mission.

- Firefox Monitor reaches more people to minimise the adverse effects of data leaks, and helps internet users to prevent them in the future. Potential further integration with Firefox will help make this usable by more people.

- Firefox Lockwise likewise can help getting the benefits of password managers to more people.

- Firefox Send offers a quick and private way to send some files.

They all also get people into the "Firefox ecosystem", reinforcing each other and giving Mozilla more leverage to help people be part of an open and accessible internet.

In the end, all they need to do is remain solvent while doing so - not make money. So far, their search engine deal is sufficient for that. Hopefully they'll find more ways to diversify their income streams, but that should never be the the sole criterium of whether or not to run a service or produce a product.

If the move is really not motivated by money, that would make it a very suicidal move, as this means the Foundation holds the Corporation hostage and uses the Corporation's long-term reputation to push products that no one really wants.

It means the Foundation willingly puts the business at risk for political moves of "keeping users safe", which I don't really know what it means, but the image that comes to mind is that of pre-school children being protected by overly protective helicopter parents.

I have long thought that Mozilla should essentially dissolve the Foundation, as the Foundation under Baker is abusing the work of the corporation. Unfortunately the Foundation holds all the power, which explains why Mozilla is behaving so erratically.

The CEO is basically reporting to the Foundation, so the people who work for the corporation have a boss that is not acting independent, but in the interests of a shadowy group of people who don't even interact with the employees. Most of the people managing the Foundation get enourmous salaries, while some of them only appear on site a couple of times a year when it comes to voting.

> this means the Foundation holds the Corporation hostage

It does; it's the sole owner.

> It means the Foundation willingly puts the business at risk

While I agree there might be a risk of diluting the brand, I wouldn't describe that as anything near "suicidal". In any case, the business exists to support the foundation, not the other way around. Mozilla shouldn't put its mission at risk for business moves of "making lots of money".

> which I don't really know what it means

In the case of Monitor and Lockwise: that their passwords do not get stolen or abused. In the case of Send: that their files are not stolen.

it's confusing only for us. for most people the browser is transparent. they say things like "should I click on google?" meaning the google chrome Icon. generally they will name the browser after whatever service is on the home page. that's the insight they are building upon

For non-tech people I'm not really sure that Firefox has a stronger brand than Mozilla.

"do you use google or mozilla?" (and it is not very surprising, desktop shortcuts are labeled 'Google Chrome', 'Mozilla Firefox' and they are just looking at first part)

Firefox's current Windows Start Menu and macOS shortcuts are just "Firefox" these days.

Your name looks Dutch or maybe Afrikaans. I could imagine that in some places, the 'Mozilla' brand takes precedent for one reason or another. In the majority of the world, it's very clearly Firefox — when people install it, they search for Firefox.

Mozilla as the main brand is a relic of the late 90s/early 00s.

The weird thing is that Google did the same, somehow calling a "HDMI over Wifi" plug after their browser (huh?). I'll never understand these organizations.

Are you meaning chromecast?


I love the Firefox icon, and thought it was the new icon for the browser. But then realized they have a separate "Firefox browser" icon instead - and I'm also not really seeing the connection between the four icons they're showing, other than a roughly similar color palette.

My suggestion: make the proposed "Firefox" brand icon the actual browser icon (because it's much, much better), and unify the rest of Mozilla development under a Mozilla brand instead of pushing Firefox up the chain to turn it into a brand.

I like both the Firefox and Firefox Browser icons. For myself, I'd be OK with the abstract Firefox icon becoming the browser's icon, but I worry that it wouldn't be as recognizable to someone scrolling through the app store. And I want other people to use Firefox, so that Mozilla has more resources for all their ventures.

I thought I didn't like the other icons, but they look nice in context. See: https://i.imgur.com/Z4laxJy.png

The unified colorscheme of the logos does make it quite clear that the Firefox XYZ products fall under the Firefox umbrella. I thought that the inconsistency in shape looked off on the branding overview page, but what that page doesn't show is that these icons aren't going to appear next to one another all at the same size. And that makes the difference.

It's kind of funny how bland the other icons are compared to the browser icon.

I'm just waiting for the pendulum to swing the other way when elaborate neo-rococo design lovingly handcrafted by neural networks and displayed in retina HDR will come into vogue. The world needs more birds and gold leaf.

I'd be happy if they went back to something better resembling their 2000s logo (finer details, more 3D):


Oh wow, '05-'09's the clear peak, seeing them all near one another like that. Every other one is worse.

It's kind of funny how bland the other icons are compared to the browser icon.

It's kind of striking how bland the other icons are. I just did this exercise. I rapidly scrolled the article, and I can't tell what those other icons represent.

Man, the comments here are vicious. I like it, the fox tail is pretty recognizable. And the firefox logo looks likes it's protecting the purple core, it's a bit softer. Can't say they made some stupid decisions regarding pocket last few years, but with design system it feels more like they are competing with the likes of google and facebook then just being the l33th4xor browser that is used by someone starting sentences with "Actually, ".

Now the important questions, where can I get the stickers for my laptop.

I don't find them to be vicious -- just honest.

I tend to not like it when companies transform the meaning of a popular brand into a more general, "parent" brand. Why would you intentionally make the meaning of a well-understood brand ambiguous?

In the Java ecosystem, Eclipse and Hibernate are examples. Do you want to download "Hibernate"? Which Hibernate project? https://hibernate.org/. Same question for Eclipse (https://projects.eclipse.org/). They used to be well-understood words.

Spring for a while was the worst of this. You look for spring. Then docs. Then guides.

Now which of these guides describes the DI framework:


At least there's a Spring framework link on the Projects page nowadays: https://spring.io/projects

I think likewise. Even if they're willing to go to the huge effort to go through all their own documentation to make it tell the truth given the new definition of Firefox, third parties aren't going to.

I don't think it went well for Apache.

The only successful example I can think of was RIM rebranding itself as Blackberry. There are probably a few others. Although they're likely all narrowing examples (company changes name to focus on single product) rather than widening ones like this.

I generally agree that that's a risk, but not a certainty. For example, I don't think many people have problems discerning Google Docs from Google Search - or at least, not many more than were it still called Writely.

I still miss the Mozilla splash screen http://books.mozdev.org/html/figs/moz_0607.png

I love that that's still an 8-bit palette-based image. And that that's immediately recognizable by noticing the banding and dithering in the colors.

It is actually a 7-bit palette!

There are exactly 128 unique colors in the image.

Closing YouTube comments section and openly mocking criticism using "celebrities read mean tweets" style is a dick move considering that they praise openness and kindness.

Personally I find this redesign unnecessary. The current Firefox logo is beautiful and very recognizable. And the new logos of other sub brands look like unrecognizable rainbow coloured spaghetti. I hardly can distinguish them from each other.

Yet another geometric sans flat art style sf echo chamber rebrand.

They all look so identical you would think its from one company and maybe even art director sketching all of these out.

What is happening in design departments? Do people ostracize you if try something different?

I do think there's less risk in doing what everyone else is. It's like the "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" of the design world. You don't have to be as good to get positive feedback on your design, too, because trend-following invites less scrutiny (not commenting on this log in particular, just general laziness/poor-talent that trend following fosters). You do something original, it better be good or you'll get crucified. Yet Another Flat Logo? Yeah, looks great, ship it.

"It’s a radical act to be optimistic about the future of the internet."

With half a billion dollar in revenue your radical act amounts to "be optimistic about the future of the Internet" and share that now through a branding exercise? No actual radical acts that would actually improve the future of the Internet?

"We disrupt the status quo because it’s the right thing to do."

Unless the status quo is advertising, or microsoft, or google, or drm in the w3c.

"Build better products."

Maybe start with "product", singular. Also maybe stop talking about your browser as a "product" that needs to be peddled.

"Open. Open-minded. Open-hearted. Open source. An open book."

Not open-web though, only fuzzy and easy feel-good "open" stuff.

"The brand system is built on four pillars [..] We make transparency and a global perspective integral to our brand [..] The Firefox brand exploration began [..] working on the Mozilla brand identity."

What do these things even mean? Remember when driven users took out a 2-page advertisement in a well-known newspaper to spread the word? Because you made an awesome browser? A browser that put its users and the open web first?

"branding without walls"

Unless you were Debian, or some other distro that needed to patch your stuff because market share is more important than getting a good browser into the hands of as many users as possible.

Unfortunately the mozilla website is run by Marketing people nowadays. There are many competent engineers at mozilla who probably don't believe in this nonsense marketing mumbling, but they no longer have a word to say about how the product is communicated.

Guess this kind of cognitive dissonance happens when a company rises from $160 to $560 million in yearly revenue within 5 years, without having to report to anyone outside the company.

Now that the writing is on the wall for ad-tech revenue they aggressively try to shift the narrative about themselves, because the last thing they want is to be associated with the "evil google". Unfortunately, as long as they take more than a million dollars every day from them, these things are just lip service with not value.

I miss the old mozilla because it was such a great grass-roots movement but they should have never accepted the money from google.

Firefox articles always bring out such mean and bitter comments. I guess anger is better than apathy but the comments about Firefox and Mozilla seem especially pretty

Maybe that's because Mozilla is such a poorly run company. They let themselves be overtaken by Chrome because they were busy will all sorts of stupid side projects instead of concentrating on making a good browser.

Still today, they're burning a huge part of their budget copying services found elsewhere and slapping Firefox branding on it.

And meanwhile, they dumped Thunderbird, a truly beloved open source project.

Mozilla is in a unique position to do some good with all the money they get from Google, but much of the time they squander it, that's why so many are frustrated with them.

It's because Firefox finds creative ways to get worse with every update without fail since 2011.

This is probably a good move, as "Firefox" has much better name recognition than "Mozilla"

Does it? I've had more than one non-techy friend refer to firefox as "Mozilla".

Hearing a free software project talk about "branding" and "a range of products and services" makes my eye twitch.

Free is not the same as non-profit. If Mozilla didn't work on branding, it'd already be at 0% use.

Branding is not the problem. The reason they lost most of their market share to Chrome was that they fell behind on technology. For years, Firefox was much slower than Chrome and that kind of complacency is remembered by consumers.

The reason their market share fell is because they made Firefox worse with each release since 2011. If they hadn't spend so much effort in worsening Firefox, they wouldn't be where they are now.

What a bizarre thing to say? The reason their market _share_ went down is because Google owns Chrome and Android, and incredibly successfully marketed (and still markets) those where it has to, and simply gets free users hand over fist where it doesn't.

When something like Chrome happens (and it happened big, you may remember the global advertisement campaign they ran. How much do you think that cost them?), even if you were to increase your number of daily/weekly/monthly active users, you'd STILL lose market share because Google can literally throw hundreds of millions of dollars at the market and cause your market share to go down simply because they win more new users than you. And there have been a LOT of new users since 2011. It's easy to forget how few people were persistently online back then, and how different sites were. IE9 had just been released. We were still making sites that had to support IE6.

If you don't like what FF has become over the last 8 years, that's fair enough, but calling that the reason why their share is so low is just blatantly ignoring the actual history of the web.

I never noticed any ads for Chrome. I've always been running some kind of adblocking. Also, I started to remove Google from my life back in 2008.

The reason Firefox lost me as a user is because of what I said. It all started to go downhill with Firefox 4.0.

Not personally a fan of the way they're (ab)using the browser brand for unrelated products, but it might help with recognition from your average person who doesn't know what Mozilla is.

Is anyone else slightly bothered by the fact the browser logo is now "Fox wrapped around generic purple circle" instead of "Fox wrapped around earth"?

It's been a generic blue circle for a while.

And even before that there were just random land masses on the blue ball, clearly not earth.

That's just until a new logo comes out, like when they go truly minimalistic, something like ...


Take a cue from the games industry and just switch to ‘FIREFOX’ written in Impact, with some dirty effect on top to make it look weathered.


The Firefox browser logo looks very good. My only complaint is that the logos for the other services look so different that in isolation I wouldn't really know that they're part of the same brand. The new shapes are cool but they don't look like they're part of the same design. Like the designers had ideas in-mind for the other services and then had to work the original logo in. I mean Mozilla is a dinosaur and Firefox is a fox -- the rest of the logos seem too literal. They're instantly forgettable because they just relate to their function.

I mean a keyhole for a password manager, a magnifying glass for monitoring, a cloud for send? Not super inspired and feel really generic. How about a nose for Monitor, sniffing out problems, ayy? Maybe a dog pack for Send, those little packs that hang off the sides -- have cute imagery of the fox delivering packages. Communicates right away that it integrates with Firefox too. Would a fox hole at the base of a tree be too much for the PW manager? It's a safe place for sensitive things. Have a little animation of a mama fox protecting it and scaring off predators.

Everytime I see Mozilla's efforts at branding I sigh...

You mean moz://a?

All they do is rebrand, I don't think any programmers work at Mozilla anymore.

A total rewrite of Firefox for Android with the new GeckoView engine is going live soon. We have close to 1,000 engineers doing impactful work on things like engine development, Rust, WebAssembly, AV1, etc. Our designers are busy because design really matters to getting product into hands!

Except creating a fast browser that obeys web standards. I switched to an old fork of Firefox that's fast and now in maintenance mode. Works fantastic.

GeckoView is substantially faster than the old Gecko mobile engine, just like Quantum/Servo did for desktop. I don't know what web standards you think are missing.

I'm talking about desktop version, which is still slow. I don't care about mobile, but that's where everyone else is at I guess. sigh

I don't recall what web standards I had in mind at the time I wrote my comment, sorry.

Yes they also have some writers.

This may be off topic, but does anyone know where I can find more of these evolutionary branding changes? I’d love to read more and have tried to google, but wasn’t able to find a good list, thanks in advance!

Brand New is a good resource: https://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/

How many branding exercises does Mozilla do? Because I swear I keep seeing it an awful a lot.

Firefox is trying to to start offering paid services to diversify away from search. I'd guessing they're trying to unify there design iconography style for that.

> Tell us. We can take it.


Forcibly cute and overly friendly palette paired with soft and curvy lines is the exact opposite of what one would expect from an entity behind technically excellent pieces of precise software engineering. I usually don't have strong opinions on redesigns (unless something is poorly kerned), but this is completely, way off. Solid Dribbble material though. Peeps there will be ecstatic.

Do you think “technically excellent and precise software” is the core message they want to send?

The messages of “friendly” and “cute”/“soft” you derived from the new look are much bigger wins for a brand building their image around friendliness and safety.

From the looks of it - no, it's certainly not.

But the only reason why Firefox enjoys its moderate surge in popularity right now is its technological excellence, not because it's "friendly".

Besides, there's absolutely nothing wrong with trying to look friendly. It's just they are overdoing it in a way that takes away from their tech cred. And they also chose to do it in a very cliche style. I wasn't kidding about Dribbble. The front page there has been choke-full of similar branding projects for months now. They all look the same.

Do power/technical users care more about branding or about features?

HN users are not the majority of Firefox's users. We are not the entire target audience.

We are the ones installing the thing on other peoples machines, though. If we say "you will use Firefox from now", then those people (mostly relatives) will be forced to do just that.

Why? As a power user I'm going to just about:config all the cuteness away, so why would I care what veneer of the week they come up with? However, for my family members who have to turn on a computer to check their email because they rarely even use one, that friendly palette and cuteness is exactly what you need to go "see? it's not all work work business boring nerd stuff".

If you're a power user, you have no opinion on this new set of icons: they're irrelevant, you're never going to see them, or use them.

>forcibly cute

The repulsion to anything “cute” is always perplexing to me. It comes up quite frequently when discussing branding and design.

Cuteness has its place in branding and it can be used very effectively, but it's not a particularly good fit for software products.

Honest question: why?

Because cuteness doesn't communicate utility.


I'm an engineer who used to work in comms (yes, the reverse path can occur).

While I sympathize with the folks who feel like this dilutes a nearly holy symbol/brand with a bunch of needless cruft, the unreformed, unrepentant marketing devil in me acknowledges that this is a Good Move and I wish I had thought of it.

So the browser icon still has the Fox! I’m relieved and happy.

The rest of the icons look fine to me, though I do agree that using Firefox as the name for every service from Mozilla may dilute its value as well as cause some confusion for people who are vaguely familiar with Firefox the browser.

I honestly think there's a case for renaming Mozilla (the company) to Firefox (which is, I think, far better known). This has happened before to other companies (e.g. RIM and Panasonic come to mind) when the product name becomes better known than the manufacturer.

I really preferred the browser logo looking like an actual fox and not just a fox tail... oh well.

EDIT: the blog said the browser logo would be changed too, i figured to the same one as the parent logo. I didn't just skip over the article.

The browser logo still clearly has at least a fox snout - it's the Firefox product family logo that's just the tail.

To clarify my understanding from the article: the browser logo continues to be the full fox, but the wider brand logo is the thing that looks like a headless tail.

Scroll down the page a bit.

My mistake, the blog said the browser logo would be changed so i assumed it was to this.

Firefox: the ongoing compromise and crapification of what started as a a very sensible and obvious idea - make a web browser that serves users rather than corporations and advertisers!

It has always annoyed me that they call the product "Firefox" but the animal in the branding is a red fox and not a firefox. The firefox (aka red panda) is a totally different animal more closely related to a raccoon than to a fox. They look enough alike that it could easily have been an actual firefox in the logo but they go out of their way to give cues that it's a red fox.


I think you are too literal. Its a fox made of fire, not just a red fox.

I wish Mozilla embraced the red panda instead of the fox.

I didn't even realize that a firefox was a real species.

Today in stupid, pointless redesigns: Mozilla destroys one of the best icons out there, replaces the Firefox logo with a generic swirly likeness of it.

Mozilla should fire their design department and shut down all the stupid side projects. Just make a good browser, that's all we're asking for.

The trouble is just doing that—yes, even in this modern world of wildly complicated and huge Web standards—wouldn't require anything like the staff and funding they have now. That'd come with a large-double-digits-percentage layoff of staff. Won't happen. Probably they'd have trouble winding back down to just making a good browser now even if their funding dropped to a point that it couldn't sustain their current, expensive, useless fucking about, due to all the organizational death-throes that'd happen.

Remember when Mozilla kinda sucked and were famous bumblers, as an organization, but that little Phoenix/Firebird/Firefox team managed to revive it by producing a great browser that soon ate the entire brand, it was so good, and the organization (improbably!) had enough collective sense to foster that rather than kill it? That's probably the best outcome we can still hope for. IDK if they're organizationally capable of letting that happen anymore, or which quarter of the current Mozilla organization such a thing (whatever it might be) would come from.

Assuming you're correct, there's plenty of useful stuff they could do with the extra money. Further development of Rust, revive Thunderbird, support web tech, come up with something that makes Google's AMP irrelevant.

And of course, put some money in the bank for leaner times.

Disappointing seeing marketing language and thinking. Firefox is good because Mozilla is better than a company.

I really dislike the quantum color palette, everything looks like a glow-in-the-dark poster.

Everyone needs a job, I suppose.

Yes, first you pretend to be a buisness, then you are a business, then you sell out. The dark side of the force knows many secrets, for example reviving past successes by selling your soul. Let the longing flow through you..

Nothing puts me off adopting Firefox as a main browser more than Mozilla and their constant poor decisions.

Anyone else getting "Connection is not secure" warning for this site, in Firefox?

Hopefully they'll at least appreciate the irony in a blog post positioning themselves as being about privacy.

No, I don't get any errors.

Are you using any proxies, antivirus, etc that might interfere with your web traffic?


It's now showing as secure in Firefox for me, but still insecure in Chrome. I wonder if something is going on with the certificate...

It's a Let's Encrypt Authority X3 certificate for blog.mozilla.org.

The Certificate is valid from‎ August ‎31, ‎2019 2:31:34 PM to ‎June ‎2, ‎2019 2:31:34 PM.

Potential issues with your system:

-- MITM attack?

-- Your antivirus is intercepting your browser traffic but doesn't have a valid certificate?

-- Invalid System time?

You could give us the error message you get instead of a generic comment on HN.

For anyone that's confused like me, Period of Validity

Begins On June 2, 2019

Ends on August 31, 2019

You're right and it's too late to edit it.

If you inspect the insecure warning, is it a certificate issue or an in-page resources issue?

Do you get the same fingerprint?

    openssl s_client -servername blog.mozilla.org -connect blog.mozilla.org:443 < /dev/null 2>/dev/null | openssl x509 -fingerprint -noout -in /dev/stdin | column -t

    SHA1  Fingerprint=D5:98:41:7E:DD:1C:10:E9:C5:CA:49:78:A1:C2:8F:C1:39:3F:2F:D5
Oh, here's the problem [1] scroll down a bit

[1] - https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/analyze.html?d=blog.mozilla....

I'm not. Using Firefox on Android. The website is https signed via Let's Encrypt.

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