CS4 updated and refined the desktop system introduced for the Macromedia-integrated Adobe CS3 era. Visual improvements to the ever-growing system were many - sharper, crisper, brighter - but this release also marked the official yet quietly in-progress introduction of what would become Adobe's new corporate typeface, Clean.
The CS4 project faced a whole host of genuine brand experience quandries. Adobe's engineers and product teams created a bunch of new apps with varying relations to existing ones and Adobe is also just starting to scratch into what hosted services and online destinations mean to the brand.
An ever-expanding problem
Every new product (or service, or destination) requires a unique desktop identity, one which families with an appropriate slice of our desktop brand system, gets through legal clearance, and navigates the spiraling discussions with developers and engineers and marketing managers.
In addition to new products, we revisited a number of the graphics that were redesigned for CS3. We needed to expand the drawings of each icon to include Apple's giant 512px icon size for a total of six separate illustrations packed into each asset. CS4's document, package and folder figures were further evolved from CS3 and we added a new "book" base form.
Primary color assignments were adjusted to accommodate more products and the relative contrast of the new translucent-dark-type treatment.
New product marks introduced with CS4 (not including typographic mnemonics)
All these icons were drawn at five sizes to accommodate our supported platforms, which for CS3 included Vista and its new 256px icons.
User experience specialist, identity strategy, art direction, icon design, screen design, design, production: Ryan Hicks.
Contributors – project management, production coordination: Bob Murata. Design and production help: Mike Levin.
CS4 management, creative direction, political air-cover: Tom Hobbs, Josh Ulm, Michael Gough. Adobe Type team: David Lemon, Robert Slimbach.