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BRAND REPORT | 2020

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is a perfectly descriptive and utilitarian tool for designers and the companies they work for.

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Since it was released in 2015, .design has become one of the most successful new domain options, and the only new domain extension to enjoy widespread use by major brands. This report focuses on the major brands that are influencing the online design community through their own .design sites, and why they are doing it. A website using the .design domain extension has become one of the few auxiliary sites you could expect to find from a major company. While a .com may be a major brand’s main site, their .design has become a logical place to showcase their design department. They do this for a number of reasons, which we cover in this report: Recruitment, Content Marketing, Brand Management, and Community Support. The domain itself clearly addresses and describes its target audience, designers. The success and use of .design is in large part due to designers being so active online, often as a community. Designers are voracious content producers. Indeed, it is It is literally their job to create and put out into the world!. They are also very engaged content consumers, looking to other industries as well as their colleagues for trends, ideas, collaboration, and inspiration. .design has become the epicenter of this online community, bringing together designers of all types to share their work, solicit feedback, and push their discipline forward. Major companies and their inhouse designers have become an important part of this ecosystem. You can imagine that in-house designers know what will intrigue new talent, hence creating recruiting sites on .design featuring internal projects. You can also imagine that as these designers move inhouse, they are motivated to create community support with shared public resources on .design sites, giving back to the same wider design community that led them to their current career. Designers want to speak to their peers in their own voice, hence content marketing on .design. Indeed, many of them want to showcase the brands they build in a way that other designers can use and appreciate, and so brand management sites on .design also make perfect sense. | 3


IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CONTENT IN THIS BOOK PLEASE CONTACT ANDREW MERRIAM | ANDREW@TOPLEVEL .DESIGN 4 |


CONTENTS Recruitment Facebook.design 8 Agoda.design 10 Asana.design 11 Amazon.design 13 Indeed.design 14 Adobe.design 15 Webex.design 16 Booking.design 18 Content Marketing Airbnb.design 23 Medium.design 24 HPE.design 24 OpenTable.design 26 Slack.design 27 Kohler.design 28 NPR.design 29 Automattic.design 30 Spotify.design 30 Tacobell.design 31 Brand Management Dropbox.design 34 EMD.design 36 Atlassian.design 36 RedBull.design 37 GoDaddy.design 39 Mozilla.design 40 eTrade.design 41 WeChat.design 41 Dreamhost.design 42 CanadaPost.design 43 Community Support Ant.design 46 Origami.design 47

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RECRUITMENT Arguably, every corporate .design site has recruiting as part of its mission, even those sites that focus on subtle content marketing. Recruitment sites open the doors to their design departments in a groundbreaking way, giving the public and potential applicants equal access to curated internal profiles. These .design sites tend to feature: • Expository articles, e.g. “What it’s like to work here” • Team member profiles • Prominent “Careers” or “Apply” tabs recruitment | 7


“

Facebook.design is just getting started. Like most things at Facebook, it will be iterated on frequently. But we hope this becomes a place where designers can find great resources to grow as designers and develop in their career. Ultimately, we hope we can help push our discipline forward.�

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facebook.design

Facebook.design The platform of facebook.com is so well defined that only a new site, facebook.design, delivers the type of content marketing they need to stay ahead. While the company has taken an altruistic approach to the site, releasing internal resources to “move our discipline forward,� a clear goal is to increase the visibility and draw of their already prestigious design department. Facebook.design presents design team news, and inbound marketing with a clear focus on recruitment, including articles, videos, and apps. The resources tab is full of shared tools meant to streamline designer work flows while the careers tab presents all available design-centric careers. recruitment | 9


Agoda.design Having worked with Agoda to secure the name, we know that agoda.design was a switch and an improvement from agodadesign.com! The new site showcases the travel and booking website with a big-picture mindset. They talk about the impact they make on the “world’s biggest industry� and the millions of people and infinite possibilities they serve up everyday. It also clearly speaks to the design target market and is aimed at recruiting top design talent to Agoda. The .design is an obvious strategic boon to them not only because of the switch from the .com, but also because the site itself links out frequently to another, company-wide recruiting site. Surely the more general site suffers from a lack of functionality, visual appeal, and creative muscle to appeal specifically to designers. The new site showcases the mission, culture, and company of Agoda in a more appealing, creative way.

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Asana.design The asana.design starts with a current list of design positions spread across their global locations. Their brand, service, and mission is all about organization, and the clean site effectively brings this work to light in its own way. The asana.design site links out to their main site, especially to highlight their wider corporate values and practices, and their designspecific articles are external links to Medium. It’s notable that the .design site is strategically able to bring these disparate pieces together and succinctly deliver them to a designer audience via the .design domain. And it’s important that they also manage to have a little fun, just click around to discover the Easter egg stickers! Clearly on asana.design, the design department is able to be itself. r e c r u i t m e n t | 11


amazon.design

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Amazon.design It’s clear that amazon.design has become an integral part of Amazon’s recruitment of top design talent. When hiring designers, Amazon focuses a lot on “experience design” — which can become highly specialized as you push into any one of their product lines. Amazon designers’ mediums are as diverse as the industries that Amazon dominates: online shopping, TV production, music and content streaming, personal assistants, electronic publishing and e-readers, grocery stores — the list goes on! They rely on designers at each step, and with each product, to thoughtfully create

intuitive and cohesive experiences across their growing brand. This is why they are recruiting designers and experience design specialists so heavily. The amazon.design site personalizes this giant company, and it is populated by mostly videos at this point. Each video allows a given designer to tell their story and what they work on at Amazon, along with what drives them, and what a personal or creative passion is. The amazon.design site is used in conjunction with their sponsorship of design events and design recruitment booths and features multiple calls to action to “come work with us” and “get in touch!”

Amazon Design: creating experiences that delight and empower our customers

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Indeed.design Is it ironic that the “number one job site in the world” has supplemented their own site with indeed.design to recruit designers? Maybe. But it is definitely good strategy. Given that indeed.com has a spartan and utilitarian feel, almost like a cleaned up version of Craigslist, it may have been necessary to draw attention to their global design department and their mission. The indeed.design site is fairly minimalist but the engaging colors, fonts, icons, and graphics all grab your attention more effectively than anything you find on the indeed.com site or its accompanying “About us” pages. It allows the design department to speak directly to their peers outside the organization and remind them that, yes, designers work here and we’re doing cool things. 14 |


Adobe.design There is perhaps no company that occupies more of a designer’s life than Adobe, as both a provider of indispensable tools and a company that has been able to continually reinvent itself with design leadership. The adobe.design site is a public commitment to their belief in their target market, designers, and the products that serve them. The site aggregates content from their posts to Medium and Adobe.com’s blog, as well as new content, and it all flows down to their open job positions. It is an earnest pitch to interested designers to apply and work at Adobe.

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Webex.design We were lucky enough to chat with Cisco’s team building webex.design. The site is part of their solution to build greater visibility for all of the design work within Cisco. While Cisco is a Silicon Valley juggernaut, it is not typically thought of as a destination for design talent. However, as they wrote to us, their Webex Design team “work on really inspiring design problems related to teamwork and person-to-person communication.” They saw the sites like airbnb.design and facebook.design as both an opportunity and a challenge; they

too can show design recruits what it means to work on their design team, all the while surpassing the bar set by other .design sites coming from Silicon Valley companies. To that end, they also envision it as a place that continues to grow with new hires, from application to internal team leader: “[w]hat’s really cool is that someone looking at our site from the outside will go to the same place as a new hire once they join. It’s a continuous experience from pre-hired to hired and ramping up all the way to being a pro on the team.”

webex.design

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We speak to so many different people at Cisco: partners who sell our systems, customers who deploy and manage them, or end users who use them. The .design domain allows us to very overtly say — this is what drives what we build. This is why we build things the way we do, and these are the brilliant people who do it. We are happy that the .design domain gives us a place to have this designcentric conversation.

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Booking.design Outside the U.S., Booking.com is often referred to as “Booking” and even in the United States it is easily understood that the booking.design site relates back to the team behind the main booking.com site. The fact is that the booking.com site is laserfocused on their travel mission and so a new domain was needed for a behind-the-scenes look at the design teams. This site was incredibly easy for the brand to launch

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since they just attached the domain to a Medium Publication. This strategy is professional with minimal investment. Booking.design features a prominent external link to their application and careers portal while also sharing expository articles like “Design Critique - the Booking Way” and “A year of working as a designer at Booking.com”.


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CONTENT MARKETING Inbound and content marketing aims to provide relevant content to the general public and target markets, trusting that useful resources will beget greater brand awareness and customer loyalty. These .design sites tend to feature: •C  ontributions from individuals outside the company • Diverse content, often unrelated to the design team’s daily work •L  ong-form articles • Free resources c o n t e n t m a r k e t i n g | 21


The main principle in our open sou projects we share bring overlappin together. As we start to release mo our ambition is to connect a broad allowing us to tackle the collaborat down innovation.�

airbnb.design

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urce philosophy is that the ng communities and practices ore tools and resources, der range of backgrounds, tion gap that tends to slow

Airbnb.design The first major brand to open its doors on .design may have been airbnb.design, and the site was so rich in content and relevant to online design communities that it likely inspired other corporate adoption. It is no surprise that a company that disrupted an industry would redefine what an auxiliary website can do for content marketing and brand reach. Airbnb.design is driven by open-source principles, and features externally sourced articles, talks, and contributors in hopes of achieving their stated goal of 60% of content coming from outside Airbnb’s design team. This website lives up to one of the most prominent values for the company: inclusiveness. Even here, Airbnb is able to further their brand message by connecting diverse people and creating conversation. c o n t e n t m a r k e t i n g | 23


Medium.design Medium is well known as a blogging platform, and it is also one way to quickly create an article-based website. Both the booking.design and npr.design sites are Medium publications that are associated with those respective domains. The content on Medium.design runs the gamut from recruiting pieces to brand assets and re-branding announcements. They are simultaneously engaging a design audience while modeling how to use a custom domain to create a curated blog website.

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HPE.design Like many of our examples, the hpe.design site seems to have multiple strategic goals and so this could arguably fit in nearly any of our other categories. Because it is relatively new and still so early, the more general “Content Marketing” category fits better than the other, more specific options. As they humorously explain in a footnote, “hpe stands for hewlett packard enterprise… we can’t always choose the name given to us, but founders of Silicon Valley isn’t too bad I guess.” The site remains a humble beginning, putting a public face to a tech giant. It links to a nascent Twitter profile, features candid photos of the team, and has brand assets for internal as well as public consumption. It could easily become the next content-rich site like airbnb.design but it is still too early to tell. Indeed, it’s a good reminder that even big companies find themselves at square one.


hpe.design

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OpenTable.design The OpenTable design team has helped bring the company to a new level. As they share on opentable.design, the design team was created just five years ago when the company itself was already 15 years old. Now, the design department is made up of 30 people and growing! Every few months they release a new expository article discussing what it is like to work at OpenTable and how the design team faces challenges and opens new opportunities for the company as a whole. It’s clear they are prioritizing design as a strength that can help them grow, just like much larger tech companies like Facebook and Airbnb. 26 |


Slack.design

slack.design

The slack.design site isn’t actually the first auxiliary site that Slack launched. The messaging app first released slack.engineering, which is now a content-rich destination that targets engineers with posts showing Slack’s thought leadership in the contemporary tech space. The designers sharing on slack.design take deep dives into their new product launches and the challenges they face as they add new features. The writing is engaging and relatable even if they are talking about in-theknow topics. They go through the various iterations of their process, the feedback they received, and why they made the decisions they did. It’s an incredibly detailed way to showcase the design department’s work and pride.

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Kohler.design You would be hard-pressed to find Kohler products named or featured on the kohler.design site. Rather than show particular models of their ubiquitous bath and kitchen hardware, the kohler.design site covers the art, design and philanthropic work the company surrounds itself with. Having met with the Kohler team, we know that the site comes from a small marketing office out of Bangkok. They work independent of the corporate headquarters and its massive marketing and PR effort, and yet they have received many internal accolades for creating relevant and genuine inbound marketing content. 28 |


NPR.design Speaking at a 2017 design conference, a designer with National Public Radio referred the audience over and over again to “our blog, npr.design� for more information on the topics being discussed. It is easy to imagine this content could one day be used to seed recruiting interest, but there is no clear call to apply now. Much of the content is the small team sharing their insights on running effective meetings, product testing, and overviews of new app and technology initiatives. The occasional news story relevant to design from NPR makes its way onto the blog as well. NPR uses their site as a place to host content for content’s sake, a strategy that allows them to engage with their peers and customers. In this way, NPR amplifies the energy of a small team interested in sharing internal and external communications.

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Automattic.design

Spotify.design

Automattic is, of course, the company behind Wordpress.com, Wordpress.org, as well as the new .blog domain. They claim to power 27% of the Internet via their popular content management system and are one of the most unique and interesting tech companies around. In 2016, legendary designer John Maeda joined Automattic. Given their evangelism of open-source technology, new domains, and great design, it’s no surprise that automattic.design was launched in early 2018. It’s part blog, part design resource, part recruitment soapbox for new talent; it is a great example of Automattic being true to their values while continuing to grow.

We’ve witnessed the evolution of Spotify.design from just a redirect to a Spotify Design Twitter handle (@spotifydesign) to its own site, full of rich content. The content itself is diverse and focuses on actual projects at Spotify, design strategies they employ, and team member interviews and essays. Its proof that there is still a strong reason to have an auxiliary website for a given initiative or department rather than just a Twitter or social presence. By moving to this site, they are able to grow and engage in a historical and interlinked manner, as well as funnel users towards their newsletter and their listed job opportunities. Like the majority of our examples, this site marries content marketing with design recruitment.

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Tacobell.design Taco Bell is a enviously hip company. Say what you will, its marketing campaigns go viral and its social presence is a case-study in fun engagement and irreverent brand representation. It’s no surprise that its tacobell.design site is the first example we’ve seen that clearly ties to a effortlessly cool Instagram account of the same name, @tacobelldesign (most other examples in this book link to a design department Twitter handle, if anything). The strong graphic appeal and millennial edge of the site showcase exactly why Taco Bell would be the first food-chain, and one of the first non-tech brands to use .design to push design content marketing. The site is surprisingly in-depth, with thorough case studies of a wide array of marketing initiatives. Why bother applying to another tech company when you can do something different at Taco Bell?

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BRAND MANAGEMENT A growing group of corporate users are taking a very literal and practical approach to utilizing .design sites. On these Brand Management sites, the public can get access to their logo files, typefaces, and their marketing and branding kits. By being transparent with their branding and files, they may be upholding a core value, or being practical and hoping that anyone that visually references them does so using the correct brand assets. These .design sites tend to feature: •B  rand assets like downloadable logos and other graphic elements • Branding guides •A  general overview of the company’s core values and design philosophy b r a n d m a n a g e m e n t | 33


dropbox.design

Dropbox.design In 2007, Dropbox was the best tool to quickly share large files. As the file sharing space grew increasingly competitive, the target market and users of Dropbox seemed to shift. Dropbox recently did an entire re-brand and showcased the styling and decisions behind it on dropbox.design. In relaunching their brand, they are clearly targeting designers and creatives who send high resolution photos and videos and work collaboratively within organizations. The dropbox.design site was not only a practical way to make a PR splash, which was widely covered, but a way to re-engage their core users. 34 |


We’d like to present the new brand to you with its full expression, so we’ve built a site just for that purpose. We’re so excited to share it with you.” Collin Whitehead, Head of Brand Studio, Dropbox

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EMD.design “EMD” is the American Group name of the Merck Group, the German pharmaceutical and healthcare giant (EMD stands for Emanuel Merck, Darmstadt). The domain name itself takes a backseat to the actual content, which is “Liquid”, its proprietary design system that is cataloged and made available at EMD.design. In its FAQs, Merck notes that the intended audience is Merck employees and designers around the globe, and that the site and the Liquid system solves a problem: “At a large company such as ours, it can be very difficult to bring together all the different initiatives that are happening around the globe. This can become a challenge for designers and people who create digital products, as well as for their users. Our guidelines provide support for creators and help establishing a unified and validated look and feel throughout the software ecosystem at Merck.”

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Atlassian.design Atlassian makes collaborative software, so it feels entirely consistent for them to make their brand resources completely open to the public. The level of detail found in all aspects of their brands, such as drop-down menu components and avatars, is astounding and likely intended for an internal audience. Still, they decided to share everything. The site also features links to important meeting styles as well as job opportunities. It could easily be used by internal designers, job applicants, and external partners designing against their cloud-based products.


Redbull.design You won’t see much when you go to redbull.design beyond the awesome-looking landing page complete with video header and mission statement. That’s because the site itself is protected by an internal firewall. It seems the team at Redbull uses the redbull.design domain to give their internal brand management portal a memorable and accessible name for those inside the company and those invited into the Redbull ecosystem. Creating a consistent, global brand like Redbull takes a lot of planning, investment, and teamwork and surely redbull.design is an indispensable part of their extensive marketing and advertising.

Red Bull Design System is a toolkit to help product owners, designers and content creators understand the methodology and approach for creating digital assets within the Red Bull ecosystem.�

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We thoughtfully considered every detail of our brand design system and centered it around our Design Ethos.

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GoDaddy.design The debut of GoDaddy’s new logo and branding on GoDaddy.design was the most dramatic and substantive update to the world’s quintessential internet brand. It was particularly exciting for us at .design given that GoDaddy is the world’s largest retailer of domain names, and sells not only more domain names than any other company but specifically more .design domain names as well! Ever since GoDaddy made domain names and websites approachable to the masses, they have continued to focus on their target market, which is entrepreneurs. This strategic focus is backed up by inspiring hype videos, playful animations, and a video interview with their Chief Brand Officer. The site covers every aspect of their new brand, from an in-depth look at the new logo, to their copy, their voice, their colors, their font, and more. The animated and interactive godaddy.design site sets the bar in a way that a standard brand book or pdf document simply never could. We’re hopeful the site will continue to evolve, and the prominent “careers” tab implies that this godaddy.design will grow into a content marketing destination to support their growing brand.

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Mozilla.design You would expect nothing less of a pioneering opensource company than a site like mozilla.design, where they share their complete brand assets transparently and freely. To quote their reason for launching the site, “Consistent use of brand assets and language creates easily identifiable experiences that strengthens Mozilla’s brand value in the public mind, while protecting our trademarks and company values.” Company culture and a successful mission statement are only realized by individuals and departments. The mozilla.design site clearly demonstrates the design department’s role in spreading their open-source and transparent mission. 40 |


eTrade.design

WeChat.design

This site is as thorough as atlassian.design, complete with everything from logos to the graphic components of an error message on screen. eTrade.design is likely for an internal audience and shows them working by their design principles. Publicly showcasing internal design culture is a way to own design as a core competence. One of the more abstract and interesting parts of the site for those outside the organization is the ‘mood board’ of their own design inspirations.

Naturally, the site and content for WeChat.design is in both Chinese and English, with Chinese being the default. The site covers their brand guidelines, logos, and font usage and is also available as a dual language downloadable pdf. WeChat is on its way to 1 billion users and its clear brand guidelines are one way to reinforce its authoritative brand recognition in China and beyond.

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Dreamhost.design This is another great example from our own industry of websites and hosting. In talking to the team there, it was clear that even those outside of design appreciated having a central place to access all design assets. They claimed its main strength was how memorable it was, rather than having to dig around an internal wiki they could have a better and clearer experience on the dreamhost.design site. Furthermore, it allows them to work on their products in a transparent way that shows their digitalsavvy customers that they are a modern and forward-thinking brand.

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This documentation offers the design specification and components to implement our communications and products. Please consider these guidelines a living document that will evolve as we continue to develop our design language & culture.�


CanadaPost.design We’re particularly excited to see CanadaPost.design since we met a designer from Canada’s national postal carrier at a UX conference and then discovered this site about two years later. It shows that by educating brand representatives and corporate design leaders about the growing prevalence of .design sites from brands, we create more awareness and eventually more great .design sites. In a typically Canadian

fashion, the site itself is rather selfless and not as focused on design recruitment but rather transparently presents their design systems and languages in a place where anyone can easily reference them. While most users of the site are likely internal employees, the public site allows them to own their core values and design ethos in a public and accountable fashion.

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COMMUNITY SUPPORT Some of the world’s largest companies are building on .design sites, but not under their own name. This is because their goal with the site is to give an open resource back to the Internet and the online design community, and these resources often have their own project names or branding that differs than that of the company itself. These .design sites tend to feature: •A  unique name, different from the company behind it •A  design language or system available for public use •O  pen-source material and supporting ethos C o m m u n i t y S u p p o r t | 45


We created Origami to help us design and build many of our products like Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. We’re excited to see what you make in Origami.�

Origami.design One .design site wasn’t enough for the Facebook team; they also share their prototyping app on origami.design. It is an internally developed and utilized prototyping tool from Facebook. It complements the altruistic model of the facebook.design site as it is a fully functional app and tool. When you consider the recruiting goals of the facebook.design site and the fact that they are sharing their internal tools like origami.design as well, you can see that they are creating conversant Facebook designers out of the general public and before they even apply to work at Facebook.

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Ant.design Ant Design comes from the Alibaba group of companies, and it is a design language used throughout their applications and internal and external work. Ant Financial, Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, Koubei, Meituan, Didi, and Eleme all use Ant Design. Ant.design is an open source UX/UI repository and brand guide. Throughout the site they return to the theme that speaking in a universal design language is an efficient way to work. They likely know what they’re

talking about as Alibaba is currently racing Amazon to be the first company to earn a $1 trillion market valuation. The site itself has both Chinese and English versions, and it literally shows us how a design language can transcend geographies. Ant.design makes design specs accessible to all project members, which promotes internal communication, goal alignment, and ultimately, improved user experience for customers who use Ant products.

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Profile for Top Level Design

Brand Report  

Last Updated Aug.2019

Brand Report  

Last Updated Aug.2019

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