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Designing for the User — Redesigning the Visual Identity of OnePlus

OnePlus is changing. With another product launch on the horizon, the OnePlus design team is introducing a number of sweeping changes to our visual identity and entire design ecosystem. We caught up with OnePlus creative director, Mats Hakansson, to explore our new visual direction and what it means for you.

Chris: What inspired this updated visual identity? Could you explain why we wanted to change our visual identity and what our goals are?

Mats: As technology evolves and becomes more and more a part of our daily lives, we wanted to be prepared by having the building blocks needed for an integrated design ecosystem. The goal is to unify all interactions with OnePlus, not just communications, but also the experience of using our products and services. User experience inspired the design, so for example, we “test read” different typefaces to make sure the letters formed words with the least effort for the user. This can be seen in the number 1 in our logo, how the added curvature has made it a slightly faster read.

Chris: Could you tell us a little more about your creative process? What steps did you go through to develop this new visual identity?

Mats: An external agency collaborated closely with us throughout this project. We started with taking a deeper dive into who we are, getting to know our users, and what it is that makes us unique as a brand. This assessment was the foundation of the design development phase. It took many iterations, and we collected spontaneous feedback from users and non-users alike, throughout the creative process.

Old versus New

Chris: Why does the new visual identity look the way it does?

Mats: At OnePlus, we always design for the user. The new visual identity is built around an easy-to-read font, and our recognizable red color known from the charger cable. We wanted the new visual identity to be easily identifiable, and more versatile and functional.

Chris: Did you go through many different iterations and prototypes in developing this new VI?

Mats: Yes, we iterated the visual elements down to single pixels. Truly adopting our never settle spirit.

Chris: Why is this the direction we ultimately chose?

Mats: While we explored a range of options, the chosen direction offered the best balance of recognizable and updated, functional and visually pleasing.

Chris: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced?

Mats: We’re more known in some parts of the world than others, and developing a creative strategy that works globally for both current and new users was a big challenge.

Chris: What parts of our visual identity did we want to retain, and why?

Mats: We wanted to retain the overall design of the OnePlus logo, with the box and the plus sign, because our community knows it so well.

Chris: Mats, quite a bit has changed in this new visual identity. Can you tell us a little more about exactly what to expect?

Mats: Our fans love our brand. The approach we took to the new visual identity was to focus on the areas that needed updating, but leave other aspects intact. The community will recognize the new OnePlus visual identity, and some users might not notice the change at first.

The OnePlus 7T Box showcases the new VI
Mats Hakanson, OnePlus Creative Director

Chris: How did we make sure the new visual identity would still feel strongly linked to OnePlus?

Mats: By keeping the logo recognizable, and not changing our primary red color.

Chris: What are some of your favorite new aspects of this VI?

Mats: I like the red box. We didn’t change the red color, but using it so boldly in our packaging makes it very distinctive.

Chris: How did we make sure the new visual identity would feel refreshing and new, without alienating our community?

Mats: We have teased out elements of the new VI over the last couple of product launches, to avoid a disruptive surprise. The reception has been largely positive. Making it feel fresh is our job in the implementation of the new VI.

Chris: The logo change is easily the most notable change here, could you go into the changes we made to the logo, and why?

Mats: It is notable because it’s probably the most iconic element of the VI. The change is gradual. We redesigned the number 1 to make it a quicker read, and the plus sign, signifying our community, is larger than before. The overall weight is thicker, making it stand out more, especially when used small.

Chris: Let’s talk about color. How did we change our color scheme and why?

Mats: The primary color palette did not change, but we updated our accent colors. They were quite muted, and not very popular among our designers. The new accent colors are much more vibrant.

Chris: Moving onto our new typeface. Could you go into how we developed this typeface and the rationale behind it?

Mats: We wanted a highly functional typeface. Ideally it should be invisible to our users because it’s so legible. We also wanted a very versatile typeface, that could be used for our logo, in advertising headlines, and also as longer text pieces. The weight was instrumental too, as we wanted to maintain a certain quality the previous typeface had.

Chris: Could you talk to us about the types of visuals, illustrations and photography, that make up the new visual identity? Why did we pick the styles that we chose, and what do we want our community to take away from these new visuals?

Mats: What guided us here was the candid, conversational, and practical view we take, and you will notice a certain honesty and straightforwardness in the visuals, illustrations, and photography. This language will continue to evolve over time, but we’re definitely more striving for authenticity in all our communications.

The Primary OnePlus Color Wheel

Chris: How does our visual identity line up with our overall brand values? Did we try to reflect ‘Never Settle’?

Mats: Yes, “the Never Settle” spirit is a big part of who we are, and we think there is a certain single minded focus to the new VI, that express that value. Also, the user centered design approach is one of our core values.

Chris: The visual identity marks a notable departure from our most recent visual style. Did your proposal run into any resistance from the rest of the team?

Mats: Yes, there were voices for bigger changes as well as changing it less, so ultimately we landed somewhere in the middle.

Chris: From the perspective of design, what’s the new VI means for other designers or people who work in related industry?

Mats: There is definitely a boldness to the new VI, but it’s still restrained. With that we’re clearly signaling that we’re designing with our users in mind. It’s an empathetic approach that reflects our values at OnePlus.

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