Reddit came to Pentagram late in 2022 with a very clear request: The company was expanding globally, and over the years had accumulated too many branding materials, amounting to a vast array of visual and verbal components. In 2023, Pentagram worked with Reddit to evaluate its brand positioning with fresh eyes and create a cohesive set of brand methodologies for the future—all while preserving the company’s signature sense of conviviality and joy.
Reddit is a boundlessly creative company. A utopian ethos runs throughout the brand, seen in the ways that both its employees and community contribute to the company’s visual identity. Over time, however, Reddit recognized the need for a more unified brand strategy and visual identity system. Snoo, Reddit’s beloved mascot, had been adapted into thousands of iterations. The company’s unique terminology, such as 'r/' for subreddits and upvote-downvote mechanisms, contributed to the complexity. Faced with a surplus of material, Reddit approached Pentagram for a comprehensive brand refresh, seeking a more integrated, intuitive, and global brand identity.
Keeping Reddit’s creative spirit was paramount, so the design team focused first on refining the company’s brand positioning. Reddit has a distinctly genuine sensibility to it, expressed in the forms of unique features on the platform and an alien mascot. It also boasts an unusually curious, informed, and active community base. With this in mind, Pentagram agreed that Reddit’s updated brand materials would all point back to four traits: inherently eclectic, positively different, delightfully absurd, and genuinely candid. These traits, along with the uniquely empowering foundation of Reddit as the best place to discover and participate through real conversation, led the team to a new, strategic description of Reddit as “the heart of the internet.”
To refine Reddit’s visual identity, the team looked at how to best position the company for its next chapter. Pentagram saw an opportunity to turn Snoo into a character as iconic as Super Mario and cement its role as Reddit’s mascot by formalizing its shape and details. This process involved taking the existing 2D Snoo icon and rendering it in 3D, with the kind of nuanced character development that goes into designing Pixar characters. Snoo’s new 3D form—and a new menu of emoji-like Snoos—opens the door for the character’s next act. It also lays the groundwork for a new core illustration style, transitioning from spot illustrations that lack a common thread, to heroic 3D icons, all unified in form.
The updated Snoo crystallizes Reddit’s joyful persona, but Pentagram also wanted to highlight the unique role that comments play in the Reddit universe. Most social media sites have a commenting function, but discussion threads on Reddit contain a more genuine exchange of ideas than you’ll find elsewhere. Reddit is full of people-powered tips and observations, and those comments have evolved into a large repository of information. To highlight this, the design team introduced a conversation bubble as the new cornerstone of the brand’s visual identity. Starting with the 'Reddit' wordmark, the team customized Reddit Sans, one of the company’s proprietary typefaces, turning the rounded counter forms of lowercase letters into bubbles as a nod to Reddit's interface. This led to the creation of Reddit Display, a unique custom typeface that brings the distinctive bubble motif to headline and large-scale typography. This strategic design move ensures that the iconic shape becomes a recurring and memorable feature in Reddit’s visual communication.
Beyond typography, the bubble became a key element of the compositional strategy. Engineered as a dynamic content device, the bubble adeptly frames both text and images, acting as a foundational graphic element. Its ability to adapt and shape-shift underscores and celebrates the essence of Reddit’s communities, content, and unique vernacular, making it an integral part of Reddit’s distinctive visual language.
Once the bubble was established as an anchor point in the identity, the design team married it with motion to provide extra utility to Reddit’s brand team. Pentagram created a blueprint for motion design principles that allow the bubble to stretch into the shape of a subreddit name or a longer comment; it can also expand vertically in stacks, to contain layers of content like photography and display copy. These motion behaviors mimic sliding drawers and doors, and give Reddit’s team a methodology for organizing and revealing content in a codified way. It creates clarity, which means the Reddit community can navigate and engage with content more intuitively.
A streamlined color palette now enables Redditors to transition seamlessly between engaging with the Reddit brand and interacting within individual communities. OrangeRed remains Reddit’s vibrant, signature brand color, now complemented by a newly refined secondary palette. This palette has been simplified from a diverse library of over 100 colors to a total of 15, consisting of 5 primary hues each with 3 shades. This approach strikes a balance between allowing community expression and maintaining brand coherence. The new secondary palette provides moderators with a curated spectrum for customization, offering a range of choices within a thoughtfully limited range.
The strategic integration of these key refinements—the evolved form and expression of Snoo, the introduction of the bubble, the creation of Reddit Display, codified motion behaviors, and a streamlined color palette—collectively reflects Reddit’s unique brand attributes and empowers the company to confidently navigate its next chapter.
Thank you to the Reddit team for their close collaboration: Roxy Young, EK Chung, Tavish MacLellan, Monica Benson, Jen Gillis, Troyese Robinson, Dave Carr, Andrew Prinz, Christopher Potts, David Benham, Alexa Land, Amber Dee, Beverly Galipeau, Michael Dillingham, Marie Kare, Skyler Muench, Andon Espeseth.