Cloudflare's Creative Corner
The Creative Corner explores the experiences of creative professionals working within the tech industry. From challenges faced to lessons learned, we will join them on their journey as they share their wisdom as creatives in tech.
Hi, everyone. My name is Jess. Welcome back to the Creative Corner. Today I'm joined by Allati, a lead designer at Cloudflare, and Leah, who's a creative director at Atlassian, and we're super excited to speak to you about all things creative and marketing both at Cloudflare and at Atlassian.
And I'm really excited to have Leah here with us today.
So welcome, Jess. Yeah, thank you so much for having me.
Really exciting. Maybe we can get started with some intros. So again, I'm Jess.
I lead the creative and brand design team at Cloudflare. I'm Allati and I lead design systems at Cloudflare.
And my name is Leah Pincsak and I am a creative director at Atlassian.
Awesome. So Leah, maybe you can tell us a little bit about yourself and your background, how you got into creative and design and how you ultimately landed at Atlassian.
Sure. So I actually went to an art school, Parsons, and made a decision to major in through an illustration program there.
Most of that decision was because I really was into web design.
But because it was 2003, there weren't a ton of classes that really allowed me to pursue that specifically.
So I ended up going through an illustration program, which allowed me to take classes that were a little more diverse.
And then I kind of just got hooked in that a little bit, did publishing a bit, and ultimately ended up in a digital and branding agency for five years.
That was in New York. I then moved out to San Francisco, where I currently am, and did a few stints at Levi Strauss, their e-com team.
I did a startup for a second and then finally ended up at Atlassian.
I've been there for about four and a half years now, so it's been a while.
Yeah, that's kind of my career journey to where I am today. Amazing. I would also love to know, it's interesting how you kind of came into it.
Traditionally, going to art school and then working at agencies and then kind of figuring your way through e-commerce at Levi's.
Back when I was going to design school in San Francisco, we used to have to go to the Levi's area and then talk to their agencies that they work with and really try to get that high design experience there.
Then you moved into tech, where you're in-house and the dynamics are a little bit different.
How did you navigate that initially, since the way that those two types of ways of working as a designer are quite different?
What was that transition like for you?
Yeah, I think fundamentally there's always a dynamic between being a creative and then having a client, and that client can be any number of people.
Moving in-house, I wasn't really sold on in-house when I was at an agency.
I think there was that stereotypical hesitation of like, what am I giving up if I just work for one brand?
I quickly realized that there's so much opportunity to kind of really make an impact and really sink your teeth into problem solving, which is ultimately what we're all here to do.
I accumulated a bunch of random skills through my experiences like web development, web design, product design.
I did a lot of photography art direction at Levi's, of course illustration.
I had a random assortment of things that I was pretty well versed at, and it kind of fit perfectly at Atlassian based on what they were looking for when they hired me, which was someone to kind of build an internal team.
I'd been using Atlassian products before I worked at Atlassian, so I was familiar with their brand and kind of, I guess, the company's goals.
It was a really interesting opportunity that I was very excited to take and have available.
Yeah, I know that sounds quite familiar. I know maybe this next question kind of, you know, you kind of answered it a little bit in the previous question that you asked, but what were sort of some of the really big projects that you worked on that got you queued up to sort of do the sort of work that you're doing at Atlassian?
Do you have any that you can note that you feel like, you know, I was like super proud of this project and this really helped build me up to take on this new role?
Yeah, I think it was a combination of skills and experiences that just set you up to work in-house.
So, being able to pitch at an agency and just have the latitude of working on their branding projects and also product design projects really, again, sets you up for all the different types of things you'll be asked to do in-house.
So, I've done a lot of campaigns, like non-specific, I'll say, but just the process of working with writers and web developers really sets you up well, I think, to work in an in-house ecosystem where you have a lot of resources at your fingertips, a lot easier to get sometimes than an agency.
And then it's just like, I also think you have more leverage in-house in many ways, too.
But I'd say, like, working on web and product has been really helpful.
I think web development, just kind of messing around with that has made a lot of project communication better, I'd say, just because you have empathy for the folks who are developing your design so you can kind of help scope, kind of know what they can contribute to the project.
So, making sure you're leveraging your collaborators and partners to the best that you can is, I think, really important and something that we do a lot at Atlassian.
Got it. Yeah, it would be great to hear a little bit more about your team.
You mentioned you were hired there to scale a team. What does your team currently look like?
How are you org-ed within the company? Hearing a little bit about that would be awesome.
Yeah. So, I was hired to partially grow the team.
I think we started out with six, and now we're over 40 people. So, it's been a ride.
And we scaled fairly quickly the first six months I was there because that was one of my tasks.
So, the team currently, we sit within the marketing organization, but really we represent kind of the brand expression of Atlassian.
Atlassian is also interesting, and maybe if we talk about design systems, we'll go into this a little more because it is an umbrella brand with, like, 15 products underneath it.
So, my team, you know, originally was brought on to support go-to -market efforts for products.
But we quickly realized it was more than just cranking out, like, banner ads, and our value was much more than that.
So, as far as us being kind of the stewards of the brand, the team collectively defines and kind of articulates kind of the brand decisions that we collectively make through not only traditional funnel touch points.
Like, we do a lot of campaigns, like out-of-home campaigns, and also, like, maybe smaller, more targeted social campaigns.
But it's also just internal projects, like internal communications. We work on that stuff.
We work with the product team on the design system. We work with our community of advocates.
And at this point, I think I'm very proud to say that we have become so much more than just a service org within the marketing department.
I think we're an essential part of just how our customers experience the brand, and I think there's a lot of respect for that.
So, I'm really proud of how far we've come.
That's awesome. Yeah, a lot of what you're just saying just resonates a ton with me.
Our team isn't nearly as large as yours. However, Cloudflare, similarly to Atlassian, does have many products as well, and we're currently in that phase where we're figuring out how they all fit together from a brand standpoint.
I'm sure Lati could touch on that a little bit, too. Yeah, no, definitely.
I mean, just based on what you were saying, it kind of made me think, like, you know, do you think that sort of the respect and admiration that you guys have gotten, you know, as more than just like service-oriented within Atlassian, within the marketing team, do you think that was just accumulated based on the work that you guys had done, or was there, like, very overt initiatives in order to make that sort of engagement or interaction or change in behavior or culture take place?
Like, what do you think it was, like, specifically?
Yeah. Well, the team – and I got to give all the credit to the team. Like, I think we did put – we definitely put in the work to kind of, like, prove ourselves that we were – again, we could take a request and make it so much more than what it was initially kind of scoped to be.
So I think it was – you know, Atlassian truly has an amazing culture, and there's a lot of this concept of, like, being the change you seek.
And part of that is, like, really solving the problem to the best – to the extent that it can be solved in the best way possible, in the smartest way possible, and in the most beautiful way possible.
So I think the team just cranked it for, like, a really long time.
We had some milestone projects that we worked on in-house, like our rebrand and the evolution of our design system, which further gave us credibility as, again, strategic people versus just people who are concerned about if it looks cool.
So that's really important to me.
Like, it needs to actually, again, solve the problem versus just looking really awesome.
Definitely. Yeah, form and function together, hand-in -hand, is what creates design.
Definitely. So I can fully see how that could work out.
I would love to know, like – so you're in this, what, second or even third phase of this design system that you guys have been, you know, constantly putting out into the world.
And obviously, we know, like, design systems is one of those things where the work is never done, and that's why it's called systems and not system.
And there's a range of different challenges that you could face. Could you sort of explain or walk us through a few of those challenges and how you sort of got over those and sort of what you learned from them to help get you guys to the next stage in that design systems work?
Yeah. You know, I think, like – I don't think every design system is created equal.
I think it should be built based on what the company needs and what the products need, right?
Like, so we definitely have challenges.
You know, I think the first challenge is just – our design system encompasses product and marketing, so it's unique in that way.
But it needed to be because we have, again, a 15-product portfolio that needs to share assets.
And at the end of the day, it needs to kind of be collectively linked to Atlassian for many reasons.
So I think there's, like, just agreeing that, like, we have these two big orgs that want the same thing at the end of the day for our customers.
How can we come together and just align kind of? So that alone is sometimes hard.
I haven't seen it really happen to other companies I've worked at, so I know it's hard.
I think the other thing is just, like – and I'll just, like, credit someone else for this because I can't take credit for it, but I think it's a great, like, phrase.
We want the design system to be seen as a platform versus a ceiling.
So I think it's just maintaining that possibility to evolve the allowance to iterate or just at least have all the uses be not so, like, locked in because of the design system.
We want it to, again, serve a purpose, which is to kind of reduce decision-making where it doesn't really need to be made so people can focus on more innovative problems to kind of noodle on.
But there's always a tension, right, between components that are reusable versus wanting to do something new.
So I think that's just a challenge that any design system would have. And I think the growth of the company, too, and the ability to keep up has been challenging as well.
So we acquire new companies. We go into new markets. It's like, how does a design system support that?
So it's really future thinking when we, you know, go back and make tweaks, but it's always a challenge.
For the rebrand that you worked on, how was that work, how did that work kind of come to fruition within the company?
Was that something that was, like, proposed and spearheaded by your team or is it coming from leadership?
Yeah, so we were lucky in the sense that, well, first of all, I'll just say that we kind of did things maybe a little bit nontraditionally in the sense that we updated our design system to its third iteration and then we did the rebrand of the company and our product.
So I don't think there's, like, a right way to do it. I think it's maybe the output more than the journey sometimes.
But, yeah, it was a executive-sponsored project, both of them.
Off of the success of modernizing our design system, there's a lot of energy around, you know, the product logo suddenly being not as maybe effective as they could be.
So we then kind of just – it kind of just happened. So the design system relaunch was really positive, and then I think people were just like, let's tackle the logos next.
And to be fair, there was a lot that needed to be improved with our old logo system.
So it was actually a really great next step, I'd say.
But, again, we were lucky that we had support from the get-go. Amazing.
I feel like this is a good segue into you sort of sharing some of that work behind the firewall.
Oh, sure. Yeah, I would love to see the web presence and even going through that.
And then even the logo system work that you guys have worked on, we're kind of at this point where, you know, we just keep creating more and more products.
And, obviously, they do need a certain level of distinction, but not enough to where it fragments our brand.
And people can't tell, like, when there's an association with Cloudflare versus, you know, when there's not or, like, which level that association is supposed to be on.
And so maybe getting a little bit of insight and guidance from a company who has similar issues would be great.
We'd love to see that work.
Yeah, of course. So we do have a design system site. There is a password-protected version of it.
So let me just share my screen. Behind the firewall sounds like it could be the title of, like, a whole separate series.
Oh, seriously. I love it already. So we actually recently updated our design site to just be a little more useful just as far as, like, organization goes.
But I want to focus on kind of this concept of foundation.
So at the core, like, our design system is fairly simple.
It's color, a type stack, and illustration style.
And those things were chosen as focus areas because they really represent, like, just key components or just key, like, anchor points of the entire end-to -end journey, no matter where you are, from, like, top of funnel to, like, you're in a product.
So that's kind of what we focused on. It's so much more, though, really.
Like, you can see all this stuff is also part of the design system. And also copy, so tone and voice.
So this is when, like, the design system and the brand guidelines, more traditional brand guidelines really, like, come together.
But, you know, a brand is more than just marketing, as we all know.
It's more than just a logo.
So to me, all this stuff makes sense in a design system. But every design system is a little bit different.
So without further ado, I'll go into kind of, like, what people at Atlassian are able to access.
Because I think one of the successes of the system is that we have a very self-serve culture.
We crank out a ton of stuff.
And we don't want to be a bottleneck. So we want to keep things lean.
And part of that is just empowering folks to take the assets that we have created for them and then, you know, be creative within the boundaries of a brand that's fairly ‑‑ it's not very ‑‑ it's not very defined on purpose.
Like, we want it to be open-ended so that it can, you know, not be rigid.
But let's just look at this quickly.
So illustration, a huge part of Atlassian's design system and just brand, we really chose that very specifically and consciously for a few reasons.
So illustration is a little bit, you know, it's not really a unique thing in the tech space.
But it is fairly cost effective. It does give you, again, the opportunity to tell really awesome stories, metaphorical stories that you might not get with photography every time.
So we really lean into illustration. And we have several tiers of illustration that we refer to.
And those ‑‑ the tiers are representative of kind of the usage at the end of the day and how people are going to use them.
So we have this concept of a hero illustration, which is going to take up a lot of space.
It's going to tell a really involved story and a really specific story.
And it shouldn't be used a thousand times, right? It's really specific to, again, a particular idea.
But then we kind of have coined the term spot hero a lot from mostly because of an in product need, which is to tell a more involved story, but be way more connected to something like that is a literal action.
So the best example is like a check your email CTA.
Like you don't really need this kind of illustration to tell that story.
But you kind of need something a little more fun than just like a letter illustration.
So that's what kind of this level of illustration was called.
And then finally we have a giant library of spot illustrations, which represent everything you can imagine from very practical UI actions to things like celebratory moments.
But they're really meant to fit into a very small space.
So these, I think, are our most used illustrations. And they're used again and again to, one, create that, I guess, consistency and meaning.
So I think people are like, can we create another illustration? It's like, well, part of the purpose is to develop a meaning behind these things.
And then we have our, we call them meeples, but they're just representations of people.
We purposely made them very, we call them high fidelity and detailed because we really want to represent our customers and the people who work at Atlassian.
And they're not necessarily just blobs or are they like all their skin color is only blue.
So representing diversity was hugely important to us and still is. So that's how these kind of came into fruition as well.
This site just has like all the guidelines here.
Let me see real quickly. Part of the issue is that this is a little bit new to me, just the navigation.
But we also have an illustration library. You know what?
I might have to not do incognito for this just so I can actually sign in.
I'm going to stop share real quickly and then re-sign in. All right.
All right. So, like I was mentioning, we do have a behind the firewall version of the site, which really has all the assets anyone could possibly want at their fingertips.
So like I mentioned in, like, as far as our illustration hierarchy goes, anyone who works at Atlassian can log in and, again, have unvetted access to any of these illustrations.
They can download them for sales sheets, for keynote presentations, which are a big part of our culture.
But you can see kind of that there's just a lot here.
And the spot illustrations, there's even more.
So this has been awesome because, again, we're not policing who gets to use these.
Anyone in the company can log in and just take what they need to kind of get their message across.
Right. Go ahead. I was just going to ask, how often are you and the team kind of tasked with creating new illustrations?
Are you constantly adding to this library, or is it a pretty steady pace of creating new assets?
It's probably both. So I think the illustrations we don't have in here are those heroes that are, again, really supposed to be for a campaign or something specific.
We create a ton of those. Like every single time we have a new initiative or concept, there's a lot of creation, illustration creation, for sure.
We update this fairly frequently.
But one thing that used to happen in our old design system is we just had way too many things.
So we've really streamlined, and we're very thoughtful about adding another illustration to this view just because, again, we want to give people choices and options and variety.
But we also want to, again, append a meaning behind these so that when people see them over and over again, they understand what they are.
Right. And this is another more logistical sort of question.
Are you only uploading one asset? So they'll get a PNG version of this, and then they can just sort of use it wherever?
Or are you uploading like that so people can use them at whatever scale?
Yeah. So we upload PNGs and, I believe, SVGs.
OK. Yeah, that makes sense. OK. That's awesome. And is there some sort of, like, when you do finally decide to add a new illustration, is that sort of, you know, doing it as a service?
Like someone kind of, let's just say, like, fills out an intake form, and they're like, oh, we need something like this.
And then their illustrator or illustrators on hand are like, OK, I have, like, this many illustrations for the quarter that I had to deliver and put into this library.
Or how does that usually work for you guys?
I don't think there's an easy question to this.
So one of the things that's awesome about this illustration style, which we created very specifically, is that it's really a kit of parts.
So we have a lot of designers on the team, and any of them can illustrate.
Because a lot of times it's just reusing illustrations, frankly.
So a lot of the concepts we illustrate, which are all around teamwork.
So that's why there's a lot of these small people kind of working together to do something big or create something.
But if you look closely, and I'm sure people will if they are watching this and going to our website, you'll see a lot of, like, duplicative characters.
So we're kind of, we have a modular system where folks can kind of plug and play.
And it's actually worked out really well.
So we've created probably thousands of illustrations at this point as a team.
And we're not blocked by needing illustrators to do it necessarily, although we do have illustrators on our team.
Got it. Yeah, no, that's exactly what I would have imagined.
I think we've kind of, you know, taken those same sentiments and applied them for our stuff as well, just because of the velocity that, you know, we also have to work within.
Just requires something that is modular and a kit of parts so that people can just kind of self-serve and make things as they go.
Do you find with the self-serve approach, do you ever find anything out in the wild that's just like completely heinous, where you're just like, what did you do?
So less than you think, I guess.
So when I came on board, there was, and back to Atlassian's culture, because I think this is important and part of the reason why we went this direction.
It was very, like, the brand was built by the folks who worked at the company.
So it was a very, like, DIY vibe when I came on board. We don't want to kill that vibe.
We want to, like, make sure that people feel like they're part of this bigger thing, right, that they are creative and they can create.
So we don't want to, like, obviously take that away from people. But I was seeing a lot of things that were just directly in violation of just any reasonable line of just, like, what should be done for a brand.
We see a lot less of that now.
And it's mostly because we've given people a lot of tools. So before, they just didn't have access to illustrations that they needed, so they create their own.
Or they didn't have logos that fit their needs or a set of guidelines around what is a logo, what isn't.
So they just create their own. So I've been really impressed with how, I guess, respectful people have been with our illustration style and system and assets.
And I've been pleasantly surprised that we haven't seen a lot of things that keep me up at night, if you will.
Yeah, that's great.
Yeah, wow, what a dream. It kind of, like, brings me into another sort of question where you kind of touched on it.
And, you know, it makes me think, like, okay, if that's not taking place, but, you know, obviously you can't account for, like, you know, everything.
Like, who knows, something, like, might happen. Is there anything that you have in place where there is some sort of governance or not, like, policing, but, like, how do you reign people in when stuff like this does occur?
Right, so I think there's, like, two ways we look at it. One, is a customer going to see this?
Is it going to be seen in public and out of context and would, like, be a bad reflection on our brand?
We're way more sensitive around that. But the stuff that's internal, like, we do a lot of, like, Atlassian-specific events and all that good stuff.
And I'm much personally less concerned about the creation of those assets.
No surprise here, but I think the biggest thing that people get excited about that maybe might be a risk of violating some brand thing is swag.
So T-shirts, everyone loves stuff. So that, we do have this review process that I try not to spend too much time on because in the grand scheme of things, it's not that big of a deal as much as other things that we're working on.
So I don't want to spend the team's time to, like, help someone fix their thing if it's just, like, at the end of the day, people are going to be wearing it around their house or whatever.
It doesn't really bother me. I would love to see the keynote work that you were mentioning to us earlier.
Like I mentioned, we're in the process now of building out a bunch of assets, self-serve assets for Cloudflare that we'll be rolling out here in the next couple weeks.
And we actually, we're using a platform called Brand Folder.
So a dam that will be housing all these templates and assets.
Just seeing that would be super helpful. Yeah, so I'm happy to share that.
I think it's one of, it's like marketing's product.
So we, like, release versions of it. I will share. It's a two-parter. So let me share the graphic assets.
All right. So this is, so when people get onboarded, they get two keynote decks.
One is this deck, which is going to be very similar to the design site.
And the other is a blank deck with the master slides that we have specifically created to kind of lessen the need to create new slides.
They represent very inclusive concepts like positive, negative.
I'll show you that in a second.
But basically, those two decks, I think, are kind of give everyone all that they need to create a communication piece.
So this graphic, this deck is also an education tool.
It teaches folks about brand. So it has a lot of slides that kind of explain how we use things, why they exist.
And I will get into all the stuff it obviously has in it.
So we have a very robust logo set of slides that all the stuff is, you know, you can just copy-paste it into your keynote deck, and it's usable as is.
And again, major props to the team that worked on this.
Certainly wasn't all me, for sure. But it's, again, it's covering all the bases so that people don't need to ask us, like, do you have this?
Or, like, I couldn't find it, so I made my own.
So it's setting those things in place to prevent people from either self-grading in a way that they don't need to do, or keeping people from kind of having to come back, always back to us and taking up our time because we didn't give them what they needed to begin with.
So we have a logo section, how to use the logos.
And then we also have all the illustrations that I just kind of covered.
And kind of they outline, like, why we use certain ones, certain places.
So more or less what I just described. But you can see that all the stuff I could just copy-paste into a different keynote, and it would be probably really convenient.
And this deck also kind of outlines the slide templates that we've created.
So this is also, you know, it could be a slide template if you needed three points that you need to kind of convey.
It's like, here's exactly the size of the illustration that should be in these spots.
You shouldn't use more than two to four.
So this is, again, an educational tool as well. And then this kind of goes into all the stuff we just looked at.
Like, all the spot heroes. Like, if you need to talk about JIRA, here's something you could use.
All the spots.
And then meeples and kind of explaining how to use them. The thing that this has that I think is really useful is icons.
So iconography is also part of our design system and really important in marketing.
They are used for so many things.
But we teach people in this deck how to use them in, like, diagrams. So there's so many diagrams that people create in these decks.
And it's kind of like, well, here's the assets to use them.
Here's how you can convey, like, a certain concept.
Here's, like, literally things that people can, like, drag and drop into their presentation.
Again, to create consistency without limiting creativity, I think.
So everything is here. I think it's really impressively thorough in my opinion.
And when people use these decks to create, like, presentations at conferences, I've been really happy with how all the stuff is translated without any governance from us.
So we kind of let people just run with this. And there's a lot less work for me to do these days on having to go and, like, fix things or give people feedback just because it kind of automatically is on brand.
Right. So, yeah, this is, I think, really a valuable resource.
That's awesome. I love the diagramming, the self-serve aspect of the diagramming, too.
I would imagine that that potentially could get messy, being self-serve.
But it seems like you've nailed down a very thorough and strong approach to controlling the output.
Yeah, I think it's choosing your battles, too.
Like, I've seen things that I'm, like, probably wouldn't have done that or let it ship if I had seen it before.
But, again, like, there are bigger fish to fry and more visible things that I'd rather spend my time on.
Yeah, this is awesome.
So good to see, too. I mean, it's wonderful how you guys use Keynote.
We still have to sort of split our presentation stuff up between Keynote and Google Slides, since that's kind of, like, how we've been sort of sharing.
And there's a ton of control you have to give up with that sort of being the case.
So we're still trying to sort of figure that out. I would love to get to a space like how you guys have gotten to.
Well, don't get me wrong. We have a Google Slides template.
We haven't fully had everyone adopt Keynote, and we never will, I think.
Yeah, I don't think so.
Totally, yeah. So, Dirty Secret, we have a PowerPoint template. Oh! So, you know, we don't have full adoption, but some people, like, just need to work a certain way, and I get that.
So for Google Slides, we have a template that uses the native font.
It doesn't have the robust, you know, animation capabilities or even graphic capabilities.
But I'll be honest that it doesn't really matter. Like, some of these presentations, people just want to, like, present it to their manager.
It's more of a deck, not like a full-on robust presentation. Exactly, yeah.
But by the way, if they are presenting externally, they got to use the deck.
Right, exactly. That's a rule.
So any, like, conference presentations or external presentations, they use the Keynote?
Exactly. Oh, okay. I have a question. So I'm going to, like, pretty soon going to have to start embarking on the journey of creating this sort of brand web presence.
And we kind of look at you guys' stuff and fawn over it because it's just so well organized and so well done.
My question would be, like, do you guys have development on your team too?
Or how do you, like, partner with dev to make sure that the things that you design can be built in the way that you intend them to?
I think that's taken a little bit of advocacy to kind of get consistent engineering resources to update the site.
In many ways, it shouldn't be updated frequently.
So I think that was part of it. But only just recently have we gotten, like, again, an engineering resource to kind of help us keep it up to date.
You know, when we did, we recently updated the site. So that was a pretty big push.
But it did take a few months to do. Right? It was kind of on the back burner. And it wasn't necessarily a priority.
It just could have been better. So I think it's always something that we'll need to advocate, even for, like, maintenance of the design system.
That hasn't been as important as, say, shipping a new feature that we need to ship in JIRA.
So there's always a conversation around resources, like, dedicated resources.
I haven't figured it out yet. That makes sense. I don't know if, I mean, maybe you were in it, maybe you weren't.
But I think was it last week?
All these weeks are merging together for me. But I, like, experienced the whole Clarity 2020 Design Systems Conference.
And it was really good and had some really great speakers in there.
And I noticed a theme that was coming up quite a bit was sort of having the funding from leadership around design systems and design system maintenance.
And just, you know, the idea that, like, this service is important.
And really making sure that it kind of gets that same sort of care as, you know, other sort of departments.
What do you think it is about the design system that makes, you know, folks feel like it's either, like, less important or just requires less resources or what?
Like, I've just noticed that design system teams have been really small, which, you know, is not necessarily a problem.
But when it's super hard to get those resources, it's hard to, like, have it scale at the same scale as a business will be scaling.
Yeah. Hmm. I think it comes down to, again, like, well, it's probably business priority.
But it's also the assumption that, like, the design system is, you know, it reaches a certain point where it has done its job and people can use it for certain things.
There's consistency across, like, all the products.
But then all the designers on the individual products are the folks who are really going to be creating that custom experience with the, like, components and modular system.
We have more support for the design system at Blasty than maybe other places because we have to use what we build, obviously.
But also we have a lot of folks who build off of our platform and our ecosystem who are accessing the code snippets.
They're looking at the site.
They have questions. So it's actively being challenged. And that just is another reason to put energy behind it.
So, you know, the design system site itself, yeah, it's been a little bit harder to update frequently.
But I'm not sure if that matters as much as just making sure that if there are major issues with accessibility or maybe a partner comes in and is, like, I'm really struggling with this, like, inline comment box.
Like, we just need to make sure we fix that.
So I think maybe because Blasty has so many products and people who are building off of our stuff, there's maybe a little more focus on its importance.
That makes sense. And so, yeah, that's interesting. I want to kind of dig in a little bit more on, too.
So you and your team are part of marketing. You mentioned that the design system that you helped to create kind of spans the product suite.
So if you change a component, it's, you know, your customers will experience the, you know, the after effects of that.
Does your team's work get infused into the product, or is it pretty separate from an org perspective?
It does in the sense that when we created our illustration style, we knew it needed to span the spectrum of being able to be on a billboard and also be in a dialogue box.
So in that sense, my team works on in-product illustrations.
We don't really, like, I guess have a really cross-functional illustration team, if you will.
So the decisions about the philosophy about in-product illustrations and enforcing that philosophy is on us.
So I think, like, we're in marketing, but I think we're closer to being seen as, like, a brand design team, which, again, is bigger than any one function at a company.
So I think also, like, there's constant negotiations around color, too.
Like, we've had to tweak colors before to get them to be accessible, like, compliant or more legible.
And I think the negotiation, if you will, or discussion between the product team and marketing team to just make sure that there is a change, then it gets reflected across everything versus us just randomly going rogue and doing something.
That's when we, again, meet together and have a discussion. And I always think we could be better about having those discussions earlier.
But we kind of recently, I guess, started up more of those just because design systems and brand especially is, like, really everyone's problem.
So it's making sure folks are, like, bought into the strategy.
Definitely. And are there specific initiatives or things that you've done or, you know, people on your team have done to sort of foster that cross-functional collaboration and, like, make it not, like, mandatory, but, like, oh, like, yes, I feel obligated to sort of span this bridge or, like, bridge this gap or, like, whatever?
Are those things that have been intentionally done or things just sort of working very well and it just sort of, like, happens for you?
You know, it's funny. Like, I feel like in the past jobs I've had, and it's just both orgs are creative, right?
You have designers, product designers who probably also went to art school, and you have creative folks who are, like, motion graphics designers.
So I think, like, sometimes I feel like there's a territorial battle between these two groups, which is hard to see because, again, we both want the same thing at the end of the day.
At Atlassian, you know, I think there was an executive-level understanding that in order for anything to be successful, both teams needed to work together, understand each other's value, and I think that really exists at Atlassian.
So from the get-go, the product design org, which is much bigger than my org, had put on this, like, design week concept, which was a conference, internal conference in Sydney, and my team was invited.
So we'd all come together for, like, four or five days and do talks and meet each other, hang out, and that fostered a sense of community.
Like, we're all here for ultimately we're interested in something bigger than just one brand.
We have a lot of async tools, like Slack, of course, and channels that we're all in, exchanging information.
I will say it's hard to maintain, though, especially across geo, time zone, and in this remote environment.
And everyone's busy, right? That's, like, the thing that I think is, like, the biggest excuse, if you will, for not connecting more often.
So it's always, like, we need to make an effort to maintain that relationship, but it's never not worth it.
Thank you. Now that we're all remote, have you been doing anything, like, from a culture standpoint that's been, like, fun and, like, virtual, you know, to get people's morales kind of a little boosted?
Yeah. First of all, was your team distributed before COVID? So we're all based in San Francisco.
I think COVID has kind of forced us to be a little, not forced, but I think now that the company's kind of starting to foster more of a remote workplace, because we're literally forced to be remote, but also when we go back into working in the office, I think it'll be a lot more flexible.
So I recently moved to Austin, Texas. We have a designer in Portland. A designer's about to start in LA.
And so we're kind of, we're starting to be remote, which is cool, but it's new to us.
Yeah. Yeah, that, I think, so initially the team, my team was all centralized in San Francisco.
And then one day we suddenly were globally distributed because we acquired Trello, which is a remote first company.
And then also we inherited a designer in Manila. So it was kind of like one day we were all in San Francisco and the next we were like kind of all over the world.
And that was a really hard change. I think, I think working in a distributed cross time zone team is actually really hard.
So that all is to say, we are kind of used to working quasi remote.
We also have folks in Turkey and Sweden.
We have people all across the country. So we had kind of made some adjustments and cultural shifts to accommodate that.
So when we actually did all have to go work from home, I'm not sure a lot changed.
Like certainly the office culture and the team, it's different.
I don't know if it's better, to be honest with you.
I think it could, I think it's, I think it's working. But, and I think we can sustain it.
But I think, yeah, just the remoteness plus this, the horribleness of 2020 I think has, you know, maybe made it a little bit harder to get people excited about being in, you know, being remote and working this way.
But we have, you know, we've done the stuff where we have social events and they're optional.
So if folks want to pop in for team lunch, they can. I'm not sure if we're doing anything particularly unique.
I think sometimes people's energy around just wanting to do another social thing is not there.
But it's all about respecting people's, you know, the way they want to work.
So Yeah, totally. It's good that keeping it optional is mindful.
So we are all busy, but it's good to connect All the time.
So it's like, okay, I'm on a laptop doing work. Now let me get food and be on this laptop while I eat my food and look at people who I'm working with.
Boxes now Definitely.
No, this is awesome. Thanks for sharing some of that work with us for great to see and super inspirational as well on that with me back to the drawing board when I have to come up with this framework for this new web presence.
That's for sure. I have a question for you around the product logos. How political do those get like throughout the company forming the you know the marks for those logos.
I imagine there's potential for it to be Pretty opinionated and political just based on the teams that own those products.
Can you talk a little bit about kind of what that process has looked like for you and the team.
Yeah, it's, um, it's less political because we set up the logo system to be fairly pragmatic.
So the style of the logos are very similar. And we did that the kind of again create guidelines that just eliminated.
The possibility to kind of like deviate in a way that was bad for the narrative of the brand and for the customer so And folks out last year and are very good at, I guess, respecting areas of expertise, so I haven't run into a lot of like political situations where people have just for some reason I've ever run into the make it like green or like my wife likes it like my life.
Yeah. You know what I mean, those, those horror stories that are I've never ran into that.
I think people are like, you know, you're the expert at this like we trust you to make the right decision.
Again, Atlassian has a great culture that has a lot of trust, which sometimes I think we take for granted, but I think the tough part about logos is our acquisition strategy.
You know, the naming of our products is fairly diverse.
So we have products that are super literal like status page, which is a status page or Jira, which is not even a word.
So trying to find a harmony between just different ways that the products are named.
I think actually might be a little more tough. But the logos themselves, you know, there's certain properties that they all have.
They have dimension, but they're not explicitly like rendered.
They have a certain like I guess like a like rounded corners, but you know that are all the same.
They don't have like thin line. So there's enough guidelines around logos, to begin with, that kind of eliminate unlimited potential in a good way.
So, you know, I've created logos recently and that has like cut out half the process because it's like, look, it's going to look like this.
It's going to fit with this family. It's going to represent this like maybe more of a metaphor than like a literal like UI something like that's the other thing is like you want to make sure that every logo is about the same fidelity and concept versus like Or sorry metaphor versus literal.
So all those decisions are made already.
So going into a logo design that it's kind of like working with the client and they got to feel good about it too.
But At the end of the day, it fits into a bigger story that's bigger than all of us.
So people are able to accept that. Yeah, that's really informative.
I'm looking at your the nav now and I'm just like heart emoji.
Yeah, yeah. You know, the downside to that is like And we knew what's going in.
But when you have logos that are fairly that are similar on purpose.
We know what they are, but it takes a little bit of adoption for customers, especially if they use more than one product to kind of Create that association with a logo, especially when you only see it in like a UI like top nav like it's only the logo so That I estimated personally was going to take five years to kind of get adoption and for people to be like, that's the JIRA logo.
We're on year three.
So I don't think we're quite there yet, but Like all these things are long games like you're not going to get immediate adoption or even like appreciation.
Sometimes, but it's all about sticking kind of to the bigger strategy and thinking about future proofing And making decisions on that.
And sometimes that's tough to kind of have a discussion about because there's the immediate need and then there's kind of like the bigger picture.
So that balance is sometimes tough.
But, and I've had the conversations for sure that kind of like spar both directions.
Yeah. And then there's products like Trello, for example, that the Trello was an acquisition.
Right, right. Yeah. So if I click into Trello's icon in the nav, it goes to a separate landing page.
And that's something that we've been experiencing too.
And I think It's an interesting creative challenge with companies that were either acquired or that, you know, might have been developed from another part of the org.
Like, how do you kind of bring these other Subproducts or newer companies into the fold in a consistent way.
Is that something that you're thinking through currently or will Trello kind of stay its own entity on the side.
It's a spicy question. I think like at the end of the day, it's like Every single product competes in a slightly different space and we need to respect kind of their Their audience and the business goals and, you know, again, the brand, the design system isn't meant to dictate like nuances like that.
It's again a platform that needs to be built up to complete any goal. The acquisitions, like, I mean, I would imagine that we acquire companies based on company strategy.
So they're generally pretty familiar with like the aesthetics of Atlassian They kind of know the deal when they come in.
But I think we do need to start being better about allowing a little more deviation to support brands that might have a slightly different audience or objective I think Trello is a good example, like it was maybe more consumer facing product maybe geared to do certain different things like planification So we wanted to be respectful of the user base that was really excited about Trello because of those things and appeal to them.
I think that the next step is probably harmonizing things a bit more And I don't think that's homogenous right there.
I think there's a big difference between those two words.
And I think we're going for harmony, not homogeny.
And I think there's a way to do that. So I think that's something we've been thinking about a lot.
And I don't think we'll, I'm sure we'll acquire another company in the future that has a very strong brand That already exists.
And then, yeah, it's challenging to how to work them in without feeling like they've lost something without angering their customers.
So we're really sensitive about that.
Yes, no, I've covered my questions here on my end.
I mean, if you have any sort of questions for us.
I know we set up this The last couple minutes and if there's anything that you'd like to know, would be happy to sort of answer.
Yeah, well, I'm always curious about like redesigns or rebrands and all that kind of stuff.
Like, what was, I guess, if you can talk about it, like, what was the catalyst for, I guess, doing, doing that project.
Yeah, I mean, I would first love just to take it because I feel like the inception of it happened before I joined.
And so, you know, I kind of came in, like, while it was hot and the going was tough and the tough was going so I'm just give us a little bit of insight into that.
Yeah. So it mainly started, I think I was definitely over ambitious and wanting to kick this off a few months before going public.
But, you know, clever is transitioning into the startup to a grown up company and we had this very powerful Recognizable amongst certain audiences brand that, you know, is inconsistent in the way that we showed up in the world.
And, you know, I thought it was time to do this work to ensure that Cloudflare the mature post IPO company was showing up in the world in a way that accurately reflected who we said we were.
So that was the main driver of Kicking this work off and it I think we kicked it off last July, and we're just now launching the work starting next week.
Officially So it took a lot longer than anticipated for a variety of reasons, but it's finally happening and a lot.
You can speak to a lot of the details and she led Most of the project.
Yeah, no, for sure. Definitely. I'm just all of that. And I think that that was, you know, part of my rest even opening up because before that there was nobody with that sort of Focus area on the team just yet.
And so coming in in a space where you are literally building the foundation of design to come at a company.
Was quite a bit of work.
I mean, I like to describe it or use the metaphor of building separate things and, you know, getting the electrical to work and just doing all these things that One has to do before they can actually live in a house.
So it's all the stuff that like no one really likes to do, but it's all very important.
Otherwise, you literally can't be there at all. And so it was very much, you know, starting from the ground up getting in on the strategy and the foundational work really listening.
A lot of it was like listening, like most of it honestly was listening like listening to leadership.
You know, listening to these beer meetings and have, you know, these amazing people talk about the company and talk about, you know what they're setting out to do Listening to my peers and the folks that had been here for years before I joined and just sort of capturing the essence of them and sort of, you know, what got them to such a company to do this work and By sort of taking all of that in and being this this vessel that can kind of capture that essence and hear a lot of different opinions and be able to get to like the funnel of it and and sort of Solidify it as something that people can hold and touch and feel and remember It's just something that is just a part of the, you know, design system and brand strategy work in and of itself.
And so being able to do that.
Especially at a time where we were just now about to IPO and all this energy is just congregated around this like, you know, just like the gravity of it all is just very much Overwhelming and there, you know, there is quite a bit of pressure, but I think that by having so many smart people around and people who really do care about the brand, because like you said before, it's like We're not the brand like everybody is like everyone's job to sort of like lift this brand and embody it and and sort of take it to its next stage and in its life and so To really be that person to like listen and really take all this information in and turn it into something that people could, you know, could reference and that was documented.
Was a lot of work, but also like really, really fun. And I think that is, you know, just a good time for Cloudflare to sort of, you know, be in this moment where where they do have these tools and And now the velocity that we have when we're shipping all these products we can match that same velocity in the design system work.
And so that's sort of I think the goal of it all and and and how how this work could be successful is just by making sure that, you know, we stay true to our core and and we continue to listen and like really be the service of the service, since that is a lot of like what design system work is about Yeah, you mentioned them like staying true to your values or something to that effect.
Like what like as far as Cloudflare's culture and how that kind of manifests itself in the brand and design guidelines.
Like, how did you kind of work with that.
So fortunately, the mission was already established before I came on board, which was very strong helping to build a better Internet and then our core values were already established before I joined and so principle transparent and curious And by having like literally your base of your pyramid, which covers the most ground and everything else is kind of built upon that to peak It was super helpful to sort of have that already and to also experience it, you know, while I'm starting to work here.
So when you come to a place, your eyes are like Bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to kind of get in there and not necessarily like have an ego about it, but to really be this sponge to take it all in I think that the listening part like played a big role and just kind of being like, okay, they definitely have a foundational core.
They have a beautiful base. How do I take this and continue to elevate it and continue to refine it and continue to hone in on it.
To where it's so well articulated that no matter who is saying it, everyone believes it, you know, or no matter how they're saying it, everybody kind of Feels the same way about it.
So I think that by having some of those pieces already there. It made the job a little bit easier to then, you know, start to craft.
In on that message and and really just get the buy in from everyone else.
The other thing that I think we did that I thought was super helpful was we had Stakeholder interviews and sort of focus groups.
And so by the time I really got in and dove into the work there was Unlimited amounts of information that was already documented of like the CEO talking about the company, the COO, the head of engineering, the Head of product strategy and just like literally being able to read exactly you know what they think about the company that they work for and what they've built and And why this stuff is so important and to sit with all those words and to literally be able to pull words from all these different places.
And put it together in a way where, you know, it was a cohesive thought and it wasn't just one person's thought it's everybody's thought sort of put together in this one space.
And I think that through all that research and all that listening and just All the willingness of everyone else to to sort of take me in and explain, you know, these things to me as well has been super helpful in order to sort of You know, visualize this stuff and sort of be that vessel to let all that work come through.
I think that's great. Like I'm making sure that the brand truly reflects kind of like all asset all aspects of the company is awesome.
And did you all execute this completely in house.
Mostly, but we had design studio and Agency to kind of be like an exponent of our team.
Yeah. Famously the Airbnb studio. Correct. Yeah.
Yeah, it was a lot of work. They were awesome. They're great partners. Yeah, it's important to kind of get that gut check sometimes so I get that.
I know we're in our last minute. So we're going to get cut off here, but it was really great.
Some great stuff going on. So more power to you and it all going Yeah.
Have a good one. Thanks for joining us. Of course. All right.