Another day, another major rebrand project from the desk of Pentagram partner Michael Bierut. Just days after he revealed a new “nameless” logo for Mastercard, Michael and his team in New York yesterday (16 January) unveiled a new-look identity for the global workplace chat app Slack. The rebrand sees the disappearance of the familiar hashtag symbol and in its place a new pinwheel logo, as well as a sharpened-up colour scheme.
The platform’s millions of users might well ask the question: What was wrong with the old identity? Well, according to Michael, quite a few things. “Even for a modern tech company, Slack has had really meteoric growth,” he tells It’s Nice That. “But it hadn’t really thought through how the brand would evolve. It was improvised and there were a whole bunch of different expressions of the brand.” Looking through the company’s core visual assets at the start of the project, Michael realised that the brand was “completely inconsistent”.
Then there was that hashtag. “It’s a typographic symbol and not proprietary to Slack,” he says. “If you take away the colours, it doesn’t look like anything except a hashtag.” Plus, he points out, the hashtag is arguably more associated with Twitter than with Slack (though some might want to debate that – take to Twitter, if so). And on top of all that, the hashtag was difficult to reproduce, because it was rendered in 11 different colours.
All in all, the Slack identity needed simplifying and sharpening up. But for Michael and his team there were also lots of solid building blocks to work with. “The company has always maintained a really casual and relaxed style of management and that’s been a great part of its charm and appeal in the marketplace,” he says. “So we wanted to make sure the brand was still a bit playful.”
He and his team explored many different avenues with the rebrand. “We looked at lots of visual metaphors for what the company does: connecting dots, shortcuts, emojis. One direction we looked at was the idea of knots and nautical – making something from a slack rope,” says Michael. “One thread that we kept examining was the idea of weaving something to make something stronger – pieces coming together to make a new whole.”
That was the path that led to the identity that launched yesterday. Four lozenges and four teardrop or speech-bubble shapes come together to create a logo that is “simplified and more manageable”, as Michael puts it. “I like that what we’ve created isn’t final; it’s generative. We’ve provided a really good foundation for Slack to build on in future.”