A new model for imagery and brand building

Luke Chesser

Our mission for Unsplash is to make images open and freely usable.

We started the Unsplash library by sharing our own photos, making them available for anyone to use. Shortly after, we were joined by other creators who also wanted to share their images with the same goal.

Since then, the Unsplash library has grown to more than 1.5 million photos, all shared with the same purpose, collectively enabling more than 1 billion creations.

Since the photos are free, for the longest time, a lot of people asked: “How will Unsplash make money?”

And if you search the internet, you’ll find a lot of wild ideas. Most centered around the idea of limiting access and making images less open.

But from our perspective, there’s only ever been one way that truly works for everyone, while staying true to our original goal and values.

Today we’re sharing publicly what we’ve been building towards since beginning Unsplash.

It gives new high-quality content to creators. It enables paid opportunities for contributors that are interested in professional work. It supports Unsplash, ensuring that we can continue to host more images and build new features. And most importantly, it makes images more accessible and open — not less.

An amazing thing happens when you make something open: it gets used. A lot.

Unsplash images are the most viral form of media ever created. They attract tens of millions of creators each month, who use the images to create the media that shapes and influences the rest of the world: articles, presentations, blog posts, graphics, and social media. And as of last year, the Unsplash library became the source for the majority of this media, being used more than the rest of the industry combined, including Getty Images, Shutterstock, and Adobe.

All of this media generates a massive amount of views for each image.

Our contributors know this phenomenon well — a set of images on Unsplash regularly generate more views than the largest events like the Superbowl, the most viral tweets, or the front page of publications like the New York Times.

This is Unsplash’s superpower and it’s the key to building a new model for imagery.

Since the start of Unsplash, our hypothesis has been that this level of reach and impact enables a new model where companies build awareness and relevance at mass scale by running branded campaigns on Unsplash.

Over the past few months, we’ve been working with a selection of companies to do just that. Our first partners include Google, Harley-Davidson, Square, Boxed Water, Le Creuset, and Timberland.

We picked each brand because they were trying to accomplish something incredibly difficult: shifting mainstream perception.

For Harley, they want to expand their notoriety from the classic chopper to their new modern electric motorcycle; for Boxed Water Is Better, they want to bring awareness to plastic alternatives for water bottles; for Google Chromebooks, they’re making their flagship products more appealing to students.

To do this, each company shared branded images on Unsplash that capture their brand goals. The images then appear promoted in Unsplash feeds and under relevant searches, where they’re downloaded and used by creators reaching an audience of more than 300 million people each month.

This gives the brands the opportunity to become the focus for topics that matter to them by being featured natively in articles, presentations, posts, and all of the media that we see each day across the internet.

The ubiquity of this content allows them to influence how people feel about their brand at a scale and efficiency not possible through traditional TV or digital platforms.

This can be used to bring awareness, change positioning, and reinforce brand messaging without creating the negative experience and fatigue that comes with traditional advertising.

“As a brand disrupting the packaged water industry, we are thrilled to be one of the first partners on Unsplash’s new ad platform. We all know the importance of visuals in today’s digital environment. Through commissioning some of our favorite photographers, we’re setting a new norm of sustainability, allowing creatives everywhere to have access to images free from plastic bottles harming our planet.” CMO, Rob Koenen at Boxed Water is Better

And unlike other forms of advertising, Unsplash for Brands doesn’t require massive amounts of personal data and creepy hyper-targeting to end up in the right place — their utility and message put them in front of the right audience.

After all of the bad forms of advertising that exist, we think there’s a way to make advertisements that don’t feel like a punishment to every viewer.

Advertising that is beautiful and valuable.

Each of these campaigns not only pay to distribute their images on Unsplash, but they also hire Unsplash contributors to create the authentic, high-quality imagery needed for their campaigns.

For contributors that want the opportunity to make money, a single campaign can generate more money per photographer than a decade’s worth of stock licensing payments.

Brands get impact, contributors get paid opportunities, and creators get more images to create openly with. It’s a win-win-win.

Rather than doing what everyone else has done before because it’s safe, we think it’s possible to create entirely new markets with vastly more opportunity for everyone.

Unsplash for Brands is the first of these opportunities, but we’ll also be introducing others connected to it soon.

For more on how we’re working with brands, check out the write-ups in Campaign and Techcrunch, or send us an email at


Memory is the company. Timely is the tool. This is our new brand.

We’ve completely redesigned our entire visual language — spanning logos, colors, icons and typography. It unifies everything we currently do at Memory and sets the stage for what’s coming next. Bold, unique and decidedly nordic, this is our new brand and logo.


The new Timely icon



Our new look


Screenshot 2019-10-21 23.19.45

The backstory

Designing with Old Norse roots

A brand isn’t just a pretty face. We wanted our new visual language to communicate what Memory is — about where we began, what we represent and where we’re going. You’ll find glimpses of our Norwegian heritage in the colors, shapes and typography that define our new look.


Taking “design language” quite literally, we’ve incorporated elements of the Old Norse alphabet across all our logos. The new Memory logo is based on the Old Norse “M” — a clean, powerful mesh of striking edges. The central Möbius-like loop also speaks directly to the structures and algorithmic connections that lie at the heart of all Memory’s tools.


It’s no secret that we have big ambitions — we want to build a company that affects lasting positive change, the world over. Recognition plays a huge part in getting there, so our new iconography needed to be distinct and memorable. We’re particularly pleased that we can use our new “M” in isolation as an icon, and as part of the wordmark “Memory”. It lets us use our logo in vertical and horizontal environments without losing any of its impact.


The blunt angles of Timely’s new “T” also find their likeness carved into ancient Norwegian stone. As a symbol for our pioneering time tracking tool, this “T” doubles cleverly as the hand on a clock face, trembling on the edge of an hour.

Organic shapes, Norwegian colors

Rune stones, hand-drawn lines, natural forms — these are the shapes of the new brand. We’ve given them a playful edge with vibrant new colour schemes. Timely’s flat blues have been swapped for electric purples and greens, and Memory is made of phosphorescent reds, blues and whites — inspired by the colors of our Norwegian flag.


Why the change, exactly?

Firstly, we wanted to create a stronger connection between our company nameMemoryand our products. While many people are familiar with our first tool Timely, few recognize that it belongs to a wider story; that it is just the first in a line of tools for creating a better future of work. That connection was difficult to tell with just one tool, but since that will be changing shortly, making the change now made tremendous sense.

When we first started out, Timely was our main focus, but as we got more involved we realized it was only one part of a larger problem that we wanted to solve. Our mission soon outgrew our brand; our family members quickly seemed unrelated.

Screenshot 2019-10-22 10.11.32

Secondly, for better or worse, Memory also happens to be led by design perfectionists. Our founder and CEO, Mathias, is first and foremost a designer, and a full “design reset” has been on his backlog for years.

Until now, our visual language has been one of uncoordinated, piecemeal alteration — tweaking things bit by bit until they become gradually less familiar. The Timely and Memory logos were actually designed by two different people, according to two completely different styles. But there were also some practical issues that needed to be rethought. The old block “M” of Memory, for example, was unbalanced; the leftmost dot threw the entire thing off-center so you had to artificially “correct” it. It was also a tad too close to MIT for comfort. It had to go.


Our new design language is cohesive, consistent and clear. Crucially, it’s the combined effort of all our in-house designers. We didn’t want to outsource our story to an agency that didn’t know us; we wanted to tell it for ourselves.

A new arrival

But there is also another exciting reason we’ve decided to redefine our look right now… We’ll soon be dropping a brand new Memory product called Dewo!


We’re protective parents, so all we can say right now is that Dewo is based on something very close to our hearts — deep work. There’s no tool quite like it on the market, and we’re ridiculously excited to open up the beta to let you play around.

More to come later this year — but for now, our lips are sealed. ?


Every month we publish this roundup of the best new portfolios launched by agencies, freelance designers, and other creative professionals.

All the signs are that web design is entering a phase of exuberance, with clashing colors, rapidly changing graphics, and dense layouts replacing the minimalism that’s dominated digital design for the last decade. Portfolios are beginning to adopt this maximalist approach, but never fear, for those who aren’t quote ready for full-on retina burn on a Monday in late October, we’ve included a few beautifully minimal sites for you to enjoy.

Hello Monday

Hello Monday’s site is utterly charming, with a delightful animation that I could watch for hours. The work section of the site is a masonry-style vertical grid, which is less easy to browse than you would expect, thanks to the number of projects. The best parts of this site are the little details: I love that they tell you how many days it is until Monday, and the way that hamburger menu slips away as you scroll is super-slick.



Bold’s portfolio is about sending a powerful message. It’s the website equivalent of huge shoulder pads, and an enormous, solid gold smartphone. The way the border expands from the featured images, giving you the sense of zooming into the project is inspired. It helps to have huge-name clients as social proof, but this site is excellent at inspiring confidence in the designers behind it.


Analog is Heavy

Analog is Heavy is a creative photography practice that works with design studios to hone brand messages with high-quality product photography. Its approach to a portfolio is a vertically aligned grid of images, and that’s it. Targeting design agencies means that they’re speaking to an audience of visually educated professionals, giving Analog is Heavy the freedom to let its work sell itself.



Another big agency, with a client list to kill for, Athletics jumps right into fullscreen video case studies of its work for clients like IBM. One trend with many of these portfolios is that work is cherry-picked to be showcased and then less-exciting work is linked to below the initial presentation. In Athletics’ case this means an interesting grid of lower-profile, but equally exciting work.


Brittany Chiang

Brittany Chiang builds things for the web. How’s that for a no-nonsense approach? This great little site feels very app-orientated thanks to the dark-mode color palette and the monospaced typeface. Its a single-pager, which are increasingly rare these days, and the simplicity of it works really well. Brittany has out UXed plenty of dedicated UX designers, by being true to herself.


Shohei Takenaka

As the web drifts towards maximalism, it’s great that there are still calm, simple, minimalist masterpieces to admire. Shohei Takenaka’s site is beautiful, with restraint, attention to detail, and ample whitespace. The subtle underlines on the menu text, and the images protruding into the white space to encourage scrolling, as well as the way the color bands are grouped when you scroll, are all perfect examples of clever UI design.


Aristide Benoist

Aristide Benoist’s portfolio features some beautiful typography. It’s great to see a developer take an interest in the finer points of design. The all-caps sans-serif text is a little too much to cope with in large amounts, but here it works just fine. My favourite part of the site is the transition from thumbnail to case study. Hover over the list of projects and a little flag-like ribbon will appear, click on it and it expands into a full project image, delightful!


WTF Studio

WTF Studio’s portfolio is as in-yer-face as the name suggests. A front for NYC-based creative director Able Parris, the site slaps you in the eyes with color and animation the moment it loads. But scroll down past the anarchic introduction and you’ll find a series of projects for household names presented as individual case studies. It’s exactly what big brands like to see: creativity and safe hands.


Jim Schachterle

Jim Schachterle’s site takes an approach that we don’t normally see: he’s opted for a dark green background. That simple choice, alongside the carefully paired project shots make for a sophisticated, and distinct style. Unfortunately the choice of typeface doesn’t work in places, at 12px the detail in the design is lost altogether, swapping it out for a simpler sans-serif whenever the font-size was under 18pt would have been a better choice.



Perhaps it’s the chilly Northern climate at this time of year, but this Saint-Tropez looking site for Swwim warms my heart. The rounded sans-serif is an interesting choice — most designers would aim for sharp lines to emphasize precision. I adore the logotype, and its frivolity is echoed throughout the site in section titles. The less-subtle animation feels a little forced, but the wave motion is enticing, and brand-appropriate.


Hadrien Mongouachon

Hadrien Mongouachon is a freelance developer, so it makes perfect sense for him to demo his skills front and center on his site. He’s opted for a variation of the highly-trendy liquid effect, and it works really well. I’m not convinced by the sideways type — it only works in print because you can tilt the page — and the usability is a little compromised by the click-hold action. Once you’re accustomed to the site, it’s fun to traverse.



Butchershop is another design agency relying heavily on a video reel to sell its brand work. What’s really interesting about this site, is all the things it does “wrong”: the logo mark is positioned top right instead of top left, the title of its homepage is “Home”. It keeps breaking with received wisdom, so either they know something we don’t, or they didn’t get the memo about UX being a thing — you decide which.


Nikolas Type

It’s rare that we get to enjoy a purely type-based portfolio, because design work is visual, but this minimal showcase is Nikolas Wrobel’s Type Foundry, Nikolas Type. Click through to the product pages and you can edit the preview text. Thanks to the foundry being a small independent, it’s able to show some lovely samples that bring the type to life, something that larger foundries often fail to do.



It seems video (not static images) are now a must for any portfolio site. Agencies want companies to see real-world experiences, and understand what the working relationship is like. Jam3 is no exception, but scroll past the looping video and you’ll find a rigorously organized set of projects. The menu isn’t easy to locate, but I do like agencies opening up about their approach, and culture. Plus there’s a cool bubble effect hovering over the menu items.


New Land

There’s a tendency among motion graphics and video firms to be slightly mysterious about who they are, and what they do — perhaps it comes from the high-concepts of advertising. New Land’s target audience probably do know who it is, because this is the kind of company that you don’t hire without some prior-knowledge. Interestingly the site is geared around tablet and mobile preferred interactions, as if intended to be passed around a meeting.


2019 Periodic Table of Email Optimization and DeliverabilityPeriodic Table of Email Optimization and Deliverability – a guide that tells you everything you need to know about sending emails that your subscribers want to receive. 

Email is one of the most complex ways you can communicate with customers and prospects, given all of the possible ways the recipients might experience your messages – through different mail clients, different ISPs, mobile and desktop, etc. – and all of the possible obstacles between you and your intended recipients. 

More about the Managed Inbox

Each element in this table represents a factor that you need to consider to be successful in email marketing. The elements are gathered into categories based on their relationships to one another, and the categories are designated as related to either Optimization or  Deliverability. Further down on the table, you’ll see Toxins, a designation for practices that can poison your email marketing efforts, and Traps, which you’ll want to be aware of.

Lastly, we’ve used the Experimental category to describe emerging factors that may eventually play a more significant role. 

This Periodic Table provides a holistic understanding of the email marketing space as it exists in 2019. The table’s content was authored by Jennifer Cannon, our senior editor, based upon her considerable experience in helping brands deliver impactful emails that reached their intended destination: the inbox. 

While digital marketing is indeed an art, it is also a science. We hope this new tool serves as an essential reference for your experiments.

Download the newest Periodic Table now and ensure your email marketing’s on the right track.

About The Author

Pamela Parker is Senior Editor and Projects Manager at Third Door Media’s Content Studio, where she produces Martech Intelligence Reports and other in-depth content for digital marketers in conjunction with Search Engine Land, Marketing Land, MarTech Today and Digital Marketing Depot. Prior to taking on this role at TDM, she served as Content Manager and Executive Features Editor. Parker is a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported and written on the subject since its beginning. She’s a former managing editor of ClickZ and has also worked on the business side helping independent publishers monetize their sites at Federated Media Publishing. Parker earned a masters degree in journalism from Columbia University.


I’m excited to introduce plugins to the entire Figma community, alongside hundreds of creators who’ve built and published plugins during our beta. Today, the gates are open for anyone to use these plugins built by our community and build your own plugins tailored to your workflow.

I’ve spent the majority of my professional career working on tools that allow other people to create things. Empowering other people to be creative is fun for me, and working on extensibility architectures is an even more fun version of that.

Plugins were always in our future at Figma, but we wanted to do things differently with our platform architecture. Plugins are critical components to a designer’s workflow that can serve as little power-ups and help extend Figma’s product functionality. However, as important as they are, design plugins to date have not yet met the call of duty. We saw two primary problems:

  1. Although designers rely on plugins, design plugins are not always reliable or secure. This is because they’re often built on not fully-supported APIs.
  2. Designers are at the mercy of others to build plugins for them, unless they themselves know how to code. And getting engineering resources is never easy.

Fortunately, I got to work with super talented engineers and powerhouse plugin developers from our community to help figure out these challenges. We wanted our plugins to be secure, stable, and performant, of course. But we also wanted Figma plugin programming to feel like web programming. Our internal motto is: “If you can code a webpage with basic HTML and JavaScript, you can build a Figma plugin.”

It turns out that there were a lot of technical challenges to make this happen (which we will cover in a later engineering blog post). We also had to figure out—for the first time in the design tooling space—what a plugin architecture looked like for a web-based platform. But in architecting our plugins platform in this manner, our hope was that these upfront investments would allow more plugin creators to build more creative, interesting plugins

After just 6 weeks in beta, we now have over 40 public plugins available to the Figma community—with more added every day. You can browse all plugins right in the Figma product. Installing a plugin takes one click. In your design file, just right click to pull up all the available plugins.


For customers on the Figma Organization plan, you can also build and distribute private plugins to all the users at your company. Admins can even curate a list of plugins their users have access to and install plugins on their behalf.

Screenshot 2019-07-31 17.17.35

So, let’s meet some of these plugins, shall we? (It was nearly impossible to select the plugins to feature in this post. We will continue to feature more over the coming weeks!)

Utility plugins that help automate repetitive tasks

Working in a design tool every day can cause some pixel-pushing pain. To help reduce the pain, utility plugins remove a lot of the manual work.


Creator: David Williames, Senior Product Designer for the Australia Post app

With five Figma plugins published and more in the works, David Williames is building useful tools to give back to the design community, as he himself received a lot of support and encouragement early on in his career. His plugin, Similayer, selects all layers with similar properties, allowing you to easily batch edit them.


Super Tidy

Creator: Ismael González-Nicolás, Product Designer at Cabify

Ismael González-Nicolás has built two incredibly useful plugins for the community—Super Tidy and Content Buddy. Super Tidy renames your frames and reorders them in the layers list, so everything stays organized.


Generative plugins that bring in beautiful, contextual visuals


Creator: Liam Martens, in collaboration with Kirill Zakharov at Unsplash

If you love Unsplash and Figma, this is the plugin for you. Now, you can insert Unsplash images right into your Figma files. Make sure to check out Unsplash’s blog post about how they’re simplifying their design workflow with plugins.


Content Reel

Creator: Microsoft

Every design needs relevant content and visuals. Built by Microsoft (shout out to Eugene Gavriloff), Content Reel lets you search for relevant assets and populates your designs with texts, avatars, and icons.


Accessibility plugins that flag errors designers can’t see

Contrast Checker

Creator: Stark

The very popular contrast checker is now available in Figma, thanks to Michael Fouquet. Stark ensures your colors, visuals, and typography are readable, legible, and have enough contrast.


Color Blind

Creator: Sam Mason de Caires, UX Engineer at Cloudflare

Color Blind is a plugin that lets a designer see their design through the lens of the 8 different types of color vision deficiencies. Sam’s a big proponent of fostering more empathy between designers and the users they design for. Color Blind certainly does just that.


Design systems plugins that help designers access and adhere to their libraries

Microsoft Theme Switcher

Creator: Jackie Chui, UX Designer at Microsoft

You won’t be able to find Theme Switcher available as a public Figma plugin because this is built just for Microsoft. Theme Switcher is a private Microsoft plugin that allows their designers to switch between their multiple product themes. Any Figma customer on the Organization plan can also build private plugins, too.



Creator: Tom Lowry, Designer Advocate at Figma

Built by Figma’s very own Tom Lowry, Themer is a plugin that enables designers to swap between multiple published styles easily. For example, you can swap between dark mode and light mode in a click.


Data population plugins that add real content and data


Creator: Chris Arvin, Product Designer at Remix

If you’re like Chris, you work with maps every day. Maps are often a critical part of your product or website, but constantly grabbing screenshots of maps is no fun. Now with Mapsicle you can insert relevant maps into Figma designs and edit in-line.



Creator: Brandfetch

How many times have you googled a company logo? Brandfetch now eliminates that step. With this plugin, you can search and insert the logo you’re looking for all without leaving Figma.


Plugins that bring designs to life right in Figma


Creator: Carlo Jörges, Lead Product Designer at Facebook

Turning 2D shapes into 3D objects can get tricky. Roto can help. Built using three.js, an open source 3D JavaScript library, Roto lets you manipulate the angle, depth, or perspective distortion of a shape.


The biggest thank you

None of this would be possible without our beta customers. So a special heartfelt thanks to all the creators who’ve built and published plugins for the Figma community:

Ahamad Al Haddad, Coinbase, Gleb, Brandfetch, Jenil Gogari, Pavel Kuligin, Sam Mason de Caires, David Williames, Kate Miller, Ismael Gonzalez, Microsoft, Zeh Fernandes, Liam Martens, Kazushi Kawamura, Nitin, Tiffany Chen, Vjacheslav Trushkin, Matt DesLauriers, Pavel Laptev, Chris Arvin, Maxime De Greve, Canva Design, Rodrigo Soares, Carlo Jörges, Michael Fouquet, Ismael Gonzalez, Tom Lowry, Jordan Singer, Denis Rojčyk

Now, go check out all the other plugins, or build your own. We can’t wait to see what you create.