Creative Suite 5’s new icons and branding

Adobe this week unveiled their latest creation with the announcement of Creative Suite 5 and with it came revelation of the latest design and branding they are employing for the new software suite.

Shawn Cheris, Lead Designer of the Desktop Brand team, provided some background information into the process that goes into designing the branding and presentation for each product launch and provided a look through Adobe’s history of splash screens. 

The branding team begins work for each Creative Suite iteration about a year and a half before the estimated launch. This process typically precludes any of the marketing work for the products, so the team has to start from a clean slate. The team designs everything associated with the presentation of the software: splash screens, application icons, graphics during the installation process, file icons—the whole nine yards. In the end, they come close to creating about 10,000 different assets for each release.

Cheris also explains how the design team had to take a 180 for the Macromedia merger in 2005: “When Adobe and Macromedia merged in 2005, the Brand Team was faced with a challenge: how to merge dozens of disparate product offerings from two companies into one cohesive system—practically overnight. Botticelli's Venus simply wasn’t going to work anymore. We needed something simpler—something more systematic and extensible."

"Under designer Ryan Hicks, a new system was born. Using color as a primary reference point and representing apps by a two-letter mnemonic, the Brand Team implemented a system that was both beautiful and functional. Users could easily distinguish one application from another at even the smallest sizes—a real challenge at times with the feathers and starfish icons of the early CS systems. At the time, the user community had mixed reactions, but over the years, the new system has proven to be immensely popular. We have watched with joy and amusement the appearance of countless imitators and fun surprises like hand-made CS3 pillows."

For CS5, the branding team wanted to tread past the traditional “monolithic” design established from the Macromedia merger while still keeping the new color system intact since users had sorely missed the eccentric and dynamic designs of previous Adobe software. Inspiration for the new branding came from a diverse range of sources: “Otl Aicher’s work for the 1972 Munich Olympics, traditional drawing tools, machined metal surfaces, Swiss design, lithographic advertising posters of the early 1900s, and more."

CS5’s presentation is based around a new grid system to ensure that they wouldn’t just be outputting rectilinear elements for the applications. The base grid was used as a foundation to create more diverse and complex shapes.

And the resulting splash screens:

The new icons continue the traditional color differentiated approach established from CS3 but now employ two main colors per application. Cheris explains how this small change has "substantially increased the visual differentiation between product icons, making it far more usable for customer who have a multitude of Adobe applications installed on their system."

And the final product(s): 

Image credit to Sebastiaan de With and Neven Mrgan. 

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70 Comments

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I must say, the only splash screen I like is the Flash one due to its three dimensional illusion. All the rest are questionably all right. I definitely like the icons though, they had some thought put into them.

These splash screens add nothing.. they look strange for no reason.
The application should load fast enough to not have a splash screen...

I think a slight animated splash screen would be more interesting.. like outlook 2010 has a small animated swoosh

The icons make me wanna puke.

unbreak09 said,
These splash screens add nothing.. they look strange for no reason.
The application should load fast enough to not have a splash screen...

I think a slight animated splash screen would be more interesting.. like outlook 2010 has a small animated swoosh

Also, the icons are great! Who doesn't like a multi-color icon. The CS4 ones are to plain, and now the new ones rock!
The icons make me wanna puke.

I don't know why you people think this!

I love the splash screen. When CS5 is going to take up 15 GBs of your HDD, you NEED a splash screen to load all of the data! Common Sense!

Animated splash screens are a good idea, but maybe that'll be in CS6. Office 2010's doesn't do enough for me.

The icons rock! It's not boring like the CS4 ones! Such a great contrast of colors!!!

Edited by njn007, Apr 14 2010, 12:52pm :

njn007 said,

I don't know why you people think this!

I love the splash screen. When CS5 is going to take up 15 GBs of your HDD, you NEED a splash screen to load all of the data! Common Sense!

Thank you! this is what i have been trying to say to folks haha

Jose_49 said,
This is the year were everything must be ugly. First Office 2010, and now CS5, well... this was to be expected.

Office 2010? The icons for CS5 are fine, but those splash screens are absolutely horrible. That said, it won't have any affect on the quality of the software.

I'm not really bothered about the branding, but the Splash screens are nice, not a fan of the icons though, I prefer the CS4/3 ones. I really hope they sort out the interface for Windows 7/Vista.

Both designs are great, splash screen is so unique and well put together. Anyone know when the trial is released?

I love articles like this!
Great new designs... to people moaning about the new designs, When your product is called creative suite... you gotta get creative!

Slightly off topic, but those stick men sports ppl remind me of a classic games console my grandparents had, cant remember the name, but had loads of games similar to pong, was awesome

Anyway back on topic, i actually, strangely, like the splash screens, not so much the icons though, i just think they'll look weird on a win7 superbar

Singh400 said,
Loving the splash screen, the icons not so much.

Splash screens with window transparency: 5/5
Product Icons: 4/5
Document Icons: 3/5

IMO, Product Icons are not that good, but they do really work when you look for them in your Start Menu or Dock. The problem with that is when the rest of the applications on my Start Menu uses a 2-letter mnemonic, it will get confusing.

At the end of the day its just a splash screen, does it really matter what it looks like, it won't hinder you using the product.

melted98 said,
At the end of the day its just a splash screen, does it really matter what it looks like, it won't hinder you using the product.

that is true but i use ps everyday and looking at it first time here annoyed me already.

Haha, I love it how the design team at my school got funding for CS4, they slot it in and..... out comes CS5 xD. Cant wait to get it!!


If you dont like the new icons change them, its pretty danged easy in windows. I dont love them but they'll do. as for the splash screens, uhhh they are interesting.

I don't like the Splash Screen.. Eeeww. Th eicons could do with some work to fix them up (Especially Photoshop *Pukes*)

The icons are almost as good as the previous sets. They're just a bit more muted, I like the punchy colors from CS3. But the splash screens rock.

I thought the icons used for CS4 were fantastic and much better than these new icons. I think the new PhotoShop CS5 icon looks disgusting The blue used on CS4's PhotoShop icons was gorgeous and the black text complimented it well.

The shapes of the splashscreens are nice though.

I'm trying out the prerelease right now, and the content aware fill is not up to par with their videos. lol. Maybe I'm doing it wrong.

I got lambasted in the forums for suggesting that it's not as good as they say. They obviously pick unusual images that are content-aware friendly and use those as a marketing tool.

boogerjones said,
I got lambasted in the forums for suggesting that it's not as good as they say. They obviously pick unusual images that are content-aware friendly and use those as a marketing tool.

Yeah, I tried it on a image with a rock in water. A more simpler image than what was demonstrated, and it didn't do such a good job.

trip21 said,
What are they smoking at Adobe?

Graveyard grass on newspaper cigarettes. Those icons are fugly. On the other hand, I like the splash screens, they're different.

Gladiatorus said,

Huh???


I think that's supposed to be a message to Adobe directly about the Flash/iPad battle going on (and the new Adobe lawsuit on its way against Apple).

doug_jnr said,
LEAVE APPLE ALONE!!

Go to engadget for all you can eat apple news ...

p.s they rubbish Nokia on a daily basis, so it x3 loving over there for apple luvers ..

Meanwhile back in the real world - neowin....

I'm not sure why the majority of commentors are so negative about the new designs. The icons look great, simple yet elegant, and I really like the splash screens. It gets boring staring at a lame old colored rectangle until the program loads, I like the new edgy design

So this should be "better"? Oh, Adobe, why don't you leave all the icons out anyway? One single colored pixel should be enough.

bull****.

TonyLock said,

Cool, thanks. Is it available or is it something Adobe doesn't sell and only uses for their own products?

Look it up, should only take you a minute on google

trip21 said,
What are they smoking at Adobe?

This is exactly what I thought when I saw those splash screens but the icons are top notch!

MarenLBC said,

This is exactly what I thought when I saw those splash screens but the icons are top notch!

Yeah, the splash screens are horrible... But the icons aren't bad.

trip21 said,
What are they smoking at Adobe?

I wonder the same thing when the master collection is £2700(£80 extra to download) and in the states its $2599 ...

I didn't know the exchange rate was $1 to £1.03886110042324

Bad bad Adobe..

krustylicious said,

I wonder the same thing when the master collection is £2700(£80 extra to download) and in the states its $2599 ...

I didn't know the exchange rate was $1 to £1.03886110042324

Bad bad Adobe..

Prices on various markets has nothing to do with exchange rates. Prices are always maximized on a given market... in other words, the UK market is not equal to the US market, the US market is much bigger so they can do a nice profit with lower prices (marginal value theory).

The exchange rates are applicable only when you exchange money vs. money ($ vs. £ for example), when you exchange money vs. product (services) it is meaningless, this is why the purchasing power of the $ as much higher in the US than it is in the UK or EU for that matter. Learn some real economics (not Marx and Keynes) and everything will be logical everything will fit in place. Every market is different, you have smaller and larger markets, primitive and developed and countless shades between. It is impossible to make global prices on economic fundamentals (in real world), you can make global prices as a fantasy world but it simply won't be appropriate and simply won't make senses.

This is even more true in a case of rival and scarce products, services (than with software and other non physical goods).

M_Lyons10 said,

Yeah, the splash screens are horrible... But the icons aren't bad.

I actually thought the opposite. Never been fond of those simple square-ish icons. They really don't look good in my Dock... Now with the 2 superposed squares, it's a little bit better...