Open AI is the tech company best known for ChatGPT and DALL-E. They’ve been heads-down on AI development for years, but it took just months for them to become globally recognized. And they’ve been making waves ever since, including with their rebrand. Here’s our take on what brands can learn from their brand update.
ChatGPT is the talk of the town right now. But it went from more obscure beginnings to becoming a powerful brand, almost overnight. In fact, it only took five days for ChatGPT to reach 1 million users. The uptake in such a short window of time has been staggering. Their website was pretty ‘techy’ up until recently. It had a super simple, functional design that felt most familiar to devs - their core users at the time.
But now, with a much wider audience, their aim was to show more of their human side, and more of themselves. That’s always a challenge when you’re a brand that everyone starts talking about so suddenly.
Area 17: The Architects of the Rebrand.
They’d already crafted web experiences for brands including Nike, Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton. Now the New York (and Paris) based studio were tasked with “demystifying artificial intelligence”. Not the easiest gig, even with their seasoned experience in brand and digital products. Open AI wanted to make the concept of artificial intelligence clearer and more human. That’s all whilst AI is at the center of huge, even ferocious debate.
They delivered. This update gives Open AI a super-approachable look and feel. “We wanted to convey the human, mission-driven culture we have internally” says OpenAI communications head, Claire Leibowicz. We can see that a website that started out rooted in tech now has a high-branding approach to what they're doing. They've achieved it without it feeling too nerdy, or overly branded.
Striking the balance between robots and humans.
AI isn’t the easiest industry to understand. Part of this is because it still feels new to most of us. So the need for Open AI to look approachable is important. The branding successfully does this, keeping its tech-focus whilst injecting humanity into the experience. Punchy colors have replaced minimalism that existed before. The use of abstract shapes also reinforces the approachable feel. There's bold typography, whilst photos highlight the people behind the tech. Balancing colors, shapes and fonts gives this tech brand an emotional appeal. But the underpinning of AI and technology is still there. It means Open AI can translate its ambition, culture, and impact more easily.
Surprise and delight is part of their experience, and they’ve been able to export that into social media without reinventing everything. Their tone is well-mastered, too. It offers security, and stability. But the copy also evokes accessibility and humanity in the places where it matters most.
Putting people at the heart of it.
Open AI policy researcher Daniela Amodei offered her thoughts, tweeting: "the brand redesign makes OpenAI feel warmer and more human. I think this fits well with OpenAI's goal to build AI that is beneficial to humanity." Area 17 have done a wonderful job of that, making sure that humans are part of the experience.
The team photos are a chance to showcase the faces and culture behind the business. Plus, it still holds onto the geekiness and technology that’s central to their work. Even without the photos, you could confidently say that their site feels more human and accessible than before. A lesson for tech businesses is that they can be high-tech and high-touch at the same time, by using a well-considered brand strategy.
Tech, plus humanity.
It’s remarkable that this human side of Open AI has emerged in such a short timeframe. They’ve reinvented the way they present themselves to the world. Great design and branding comes from understanding your customers better than they understand themselves. And businesses can take Area 17’s work as a shining example of doing that. Their visual identity is a great example of how a tech startup can balance innovation with good design. As companies grow, their brand has to evolve with them. The rebrand propels Open AI to a more human place, that finds a functional, beautiful way to demystify AI.
OpenAI’s rebrand proves that you don’t need gimmicks to make a statement and build real connections. It’s a masterclass in balancing cutting-edge work with accessibility. Plus, it shows us that a brand refresh can be just as valuable as the launch of a new product. It signals positive change and continued momentum.
Now for some more AI experiments.
We hope you enjoyed our first episode of Design Goodies. We loved getting under the skin of this rebrand. Especially as we’re deeply invested in using AI as a force for good at designstripe.
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We want Brand Goodies to really show the business impact that great branding can have. Brand Goodies is a series where we showcase brands that we love, and outline why their visual identity is good for business.