New Firefox Icon: Q&A

Is there any more progress to brief us on yet?.

Yep, coming shortly. I’ve been pushing the boundaries of the “or so” part of 24 hours due to some work on the reviewer’s guide (people are getting on airplanes to talk to journalists so that became a hard deadline and took priority).

Is it possible to present these variants in this thread as a short series of images in various pixel sizes, for example down to 16×16, 32×32 and 48×48?

We haven’t been publishing smaller sizes yet because just doing an automatic image resize wouldn’t really be representative of what the icon will ultimately end up looking like at smaller resolutions. Usually a lot of manual work goes into creating the smaller versions, as specific details are removed prior to the resize, and the designer focuses on pixel hinting by hand so the small icon appears really sharp. As a side note, this is also why the idea of “hey let’s do all our in-product icons in SVG!” ends up being a little more complicated than it initially sounds. The issue isn’t just correctly scaling and rendering (with equally good pixel hinting) but also being able to scale the level of detail in the artwork itself. Building an icon format that did all of those things simultaneously would however be unbelievably cool.

The current and old design should be displayed next to each other for comparison purposes. (requested a lot)

I don’t want to influence people through direct comparison. If people compare each concept to the way the Firefox appears in their mind (which varies), I think the feedback becomes more valuable.

May I know why the “earth” is not continentally correct?

In the comments of my blog Jakub (who does awesome work on our Linux theme’s icons) asks a related question:

The fact that FF is localized to 70+ languages doesn’t really justify depicting an alien planet instead of being distinctively Earth. I really dislike this fake political correctness.

Can I automatically forward you the hate mail I would receive if were forced to pick a particular planetary rotation? :) Other companies are usually centric to where their headquarters happens to be located (for example, Cupertino, or Redmond), but even that doesn’t work well for Mozilla :) I guess my overall point is that even my immediate colleagues would hate me! We sometimes refer to the “alien planet” as “planet mozilla” if that makes the concept more appealing (not to be confused with the otherwise identically named planet mozilla). In terms of other fun facts, Daniel Burka also mentioned awhile ago that the original continent configuration was loosely based on pangea.

Has it evolved that greatly since 2004 that there is now an ice cap? Is an ice age approaching?

In theory don’t most life supporting planets have arctic poles? Anyway, it’s probably best not to read too much into fluctuations with this aspect of the design. In terms of the impending ice age, the planet does appear kind of blueish (green doesn’t go that well with orange).

I think at this point, maybe what needs to be done is a model… I don’t mean a complicated 3D computer model, but a simple model of clay. Look at the clay model and think about what happens in real space.

I would actually really love to have a full 3D model of the icon, since that would enable us to also do really cool stuff like creating wallpaper images of the tail cradling planet mozilla from the perspective of a satellite:


It looks like someone punched the fox in the snout because now it’s shorter and fatter (Why was that changed at all?).

Longer snouts end up looking kind of weasely, we also gave the cheek under the snout a bit of a trim to clean him up a little.

Maybe now is the time to correct a misconception about what Firefox is. It is *not* fire and fox, as drawed in the icon. Firefox is an animal on its own.

The Red Panda is an unbelievably cute animal (especially the Toby at the Houston Zoo) but in terms of the icon we are basically presenting a separate mythical creature called the Firefox. I’ll write a lot more about this in my next post. Either way, Red Panda or mythical creature, the presentation still isn’t meant to be just fire + fox (or a fox on fire).

There should be various types of the icon, like there are various themes under each OS.

This is kind of a tricky problem, because we want to have a consistent and recognizable brand, we want to send the clear message that Firefox is nearly an identical product on every platform (we ship nearly the same code base on all platforms simultaneously), and also because launching 3 or 4 new icons at the same time is logistically difficult (which platform goes on the t-shirts? we can’t play favorites.) However, I’ve previously been a very strong advocate of visual integration with the operating system, so this is something that I want us to think about in the future. But I think the differences between platforms would have to be really subtle, basically lighting and texture, with extremely consistent shape.

Same as we always say “security/privacy first”, I think “easy/safe to use” or “feel comfortable” are more important than “fast/cool browser” or “new/powerful platform”. (cool? robots on the shiretoko firstrun pages are negative example) I have heard no favorable comment for new logo so far in japan, since current (fx3) logo looks much cuter. Please keep the logo looks *cute*, not only cool. Especially children and women tend to try/keep using cute things. As far as I talked/worked with non-geek students, not a few people (at least in Japan) start using Firefox when they find cute logo on their desktop.

I know Mozilla China is has created the localized (and very cute) artwork for G-Fox, and Mozilla Japan of course has the extremely popular Foxkeh.


Although in both cases these characters are used in promotional materials as opposed to the branding of the browser itself. Trademark implications aside, I wonder if that is the correct balance, or if having localized brands in certain regions wouldn’t be a more effective strategy to increase market share. On the downside localized brands in certain regions would somewhat undermine global brand recognition (the Golden Arches argument, although I’m hesitant to use that particular example). Even if we want to stay with a globally consistent application icon, I think it is important that we ensure that the new revision at least maintains the same level of cuteness as previous versions of the Firefox icon. More on this in the next post.


  1. Thanks for responding to our feedback. Your replies make perfect sense. I’m abruptly eneding this comment because I see that you just posted a new draft.

  2. We could have a separate version of the icon for each localization, with the globe rotated to be most flattering to each. ;)

  3. Or even a dynamic logo that localizes to the location of the browser and shows the globe accordingly ;)

  4. Yes! We can integrate it with the new geolocation facilities!

  5. As a related question, do we have an SVG of the Mozilla planet itself (independent of new or old version)? We might be needing a base globe icon for symbolizing browser functionality generically withing SeaMonkey and using that planet would fit us well there, I guess…
    If there is, please contact me by email, not sure if I come around to look at comment on this post again. Thanks.