Adobe goes for cool new "shareware" look in CS3

John Nack revealed the branding strategy for Adobe's next generation of products on his blog yesterday. OK, so "strategy" might be too harsh a word. More like "disaster".

Having seen the "design" for the public beta of Photoshop CS3, I was entirely hoping that they were placeholders and that it was a case of priorities; Adobe merely had not gotten round to branding the application by the time of the release. It seemed odd to me that they would release the first public beta of one of their flagship products with a splash screen and icon that looked like it was created in five minutes in Microsoft Paint. At the same time though, a nasty thought surfaced at the back of my head: "That icon sure looks like something you'd see on the Periodic Table, I hope they're not trying to be smart!"

Apparently, they were trying to be smart.

Adobe, now listen: I don't know you too well yet but since you married Macromedia, I see you as part of the family now. So I'm going to speak freely here because I care:

You're making a huge mistake with the CS3 branding.

Please get another agency (or several) to pitch for this and go back to the drawing board. The Macromedia Studio 8 production values were a step down from what we were used to in the Macromedia products and this current design is a huge tumble down a grand canyon from that even. When I look at the branding for the public beta of Photoshop CS3, one word comes to mind:


Your tools are used by some of the most talented graphic designers in the world. As a recent Mac convert, I can appreciate perhaps better than most the very real impact that the production values and aesthetic quality of the tools that you use on a daily basis can have on your inspiration and enthusiasm as a creative individual. More importantly, however, your branding is a reflection of the quality of your products. We still judge books by covers. At least at first, before taking a look inside. Having played with Photoshop CS3, I can attest that it is wonderful on the inside but I can't, for the life of me, understand why it comes wrapped up in a dirty old newspaper.

Please, Adobe, review this decision. It's a bad one.