Refreshing the Ubuntu Brand

Ubuntu has seen a tremendous amount of growth and change since it was conceived in 2004. Back then it was a small project with strong ambitions and a handful of developers passionate about delivering a world class Linux Operating System that can compete on every level with Microsoft and Apple. We adopted a style based on the tagline “Linux for Human Beings”, and called it “Human”. Six years on we have made incredible progress. Ubuntu is a global phenomenon: we have carved out a pervasive culture of quality and design, thoughtful usability and great technology all fused together in a project that maintains the same commitment to community and collaborative development that we embraced back in 2004.

In 2009, a small team lead by Mark Shuttleworth, conducted a review of our key brand values and identity. Based on that work, a set of visual treatments were produced, and shared with key members of the Ubuntu Art community, spanning the core distributions, derivatives, and aligned efforts like the Forums. Representatives from Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Edubuntu, Xubuntu, Mythbuntu, SpreadUbuntu and more came to London and worked with the Canonical design team to refine the designs and work together. The results of that work are presented here.

This collection of community representatives worked with the design team and created some great work. Some examples:

In addition to this we also worked with our key governance boards: the Community Council, Technical Board, Forums Council, LoCo Council and others around this work to ensure that our community can use it to it’s best advantage.

Brand Values

The key values we believe are reflected in the Ubuntu project are:

  • Precision. We ship high quality software, and we ship it exactly on schedule. Our Debian heritage means that the individual components of our platform are tightly defined and neatly arranged. There is no excess, no fat, and no waste in Ubuntu. We are a community that thrives on delivery.

  • Reliability. We are building Ubuntu for serious use. Whether it is being deployed on the desktop or in the cloud, we care that Ubuntu is secure, reliable and predictable. We deliver updates to Ubuntu that are rigorously tested. When we make a mistake, we learn from it and put in place good processes to ensure that it does not happen again.

  • Collaboration. Ubuntu is the result of collaborative work between thousands of people, and it is both the beneficiary and the public face of the collaborative work of tens of thousands of free software developers who build individual upstream components, or aggregate them in Debian. We go to great lengths to ensure that anybody, anywhere, who is passionate about Ubuntu and competent to participate, can do so. We enable virtual participation in our physical Ubuntu Developer Summits, we use mailing lists and IRC in preference to over-the-cubicle-wall communications, and we welcome contributions from both companies and individuals. Our governance bodies reflect the diversity of that participation, and leadership or permissions are based on proven merit, not corporate employment.

  • Freedom. We strive to deliver the very best free software platform. Our highest mission is to accelerate the adoption and spread of free software, to make it the de facto standard way that people build and consume software. We celebrate the work of other groups committed to collaborative content development, and open content licensing. While we are pragmatic about this (we ship proprietary drivers when we believe they are a requirement to get free software working well on PC’s) we expressly do not include any proprietary applications in the default installation of Ubuntu. We want people to love and appreciate free software, and even though we work to make sure that Ubuntu is compatible with, certified with and iteroperable with popular proprietary software, we do so to facilitate the adoption of free alternatives to proprietary solutions.

While the branding has changed, the freedoms and rights have not: our global community will still maintain access to the resources needed to construct logos that use the branding. We will be providing the new font, images, colour specs, and a set of recommendations for creating branding for websites, t-shirts and the other needs of our community. As before we will protect the integrity of the Ubuntu brand with the Ubuntu Trademark Policy.

Light: Ubuntu is Lightware

The new style in Ubuntu is inspired by the idea of “Light”.

We’re drawn to Light because it denotes both warmth and clarity, and intrigued by the idea that “light” is a good value in software. Good software is “light” in the sense that it uses your resources efficiently, runs quickly, and can easily be reshaped as needed. Ubuntu represents a break with the bloatware of proprietary operating systems and an opportunity to delight to those who use computers for work and play. More and more of our communications are powered by light, and in future, our processing power will depend on our ability to work with light, too.

Visually, light is beautiful, light is ethereal, light brings clarity and comfort.

Historical perspective: From 2004-2010, the theme in Ubuntu was “Human”. Our tagline was “Linux for Human Beings” and we used a palette reflective of the full range of humanity. Our focus as a project was bringing Linux from the data center into the lives of our friends and global family.

Go and see the full details of the brand refresh here, with more images.

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