How&How helps tree-planting app Freetree grow with “fuzzy” rebrand

The design consultancy has worked on the extension app’s new branding, creating a curved cursor which also resembles a pine tree.

How&How has rebranded tree-planting browser extension app Freetree with an emphasis on “feel-good fuzziness”.

The design consultancy, which has offices in Lisbon and London, has worked on the company’s new logo, a suite of illustrations, as well as gamification aspects.

Freetree is a free browser extension which works with shops to plant trees when people online shop. For each purchase, shops pay Freetree a small amount for the referral. The app – which is run by tree-planting search engine Ecosia – then uses that money to plant trees. Almost 8,000 trees have been planted so far; partners include eBay, Amazon and AO.

The driving principle for the rebrand was the concept of “unleashing fuzz”, explains studio co-founder Cat How. “Only some people are passionate about climate change, but who doesn’t love the appearance and experience of nature?” she adds. “So why not give buyers a fuzzy feeling inside in the knowledge their purchases are leading to more fuzziness outside?”

How&How has crafted a family of personified leaves and tree for the new branding. The trees pop and wobble under the weight of growing foliage, How explains – aiming to convey how each online purchase contributes to the app’s tree-growing mission.

The colour palette also takes inspiration from the world of trees, with shades like Maple Red, Moss Green and Peach Blossom. The primary typeface in use is Champ, from foundry Typeverything, picked for its “expressive carved inktraps and bouncy vibe”, How says.

The studio also designed the Freetree icon, which combines two of the app’s central elements: a cursor and a tree. The cursor was tilted slightly to resemble a pine tree more closely. As How says, “The cursor became the three, and the tree became the cursor.” This cursor only shows on the Freetree website, How explains, as it wasn’t possible to run it on partner websites.

The branding has rolled out across the Freetree website and also in the extension itself – there are “dialogue ‘activation’ boxes” which pop up on partner websites, How adds.

Freetree’s logo before (left) and after (right)

How&How also looked to gamification to incentivise users. Three tree planting levels have been added which reward people for using the app. Each one is represented by what the studio calls “tree badges”, awarded according to the number of trees the user has helped to plant.

“Leveraging the gamification cues was a way to increase user participation,” How says, “by making the task of tree-planting a satisfying, feel-good behaviour.”

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