Democratizing Identity

One of the core ideas we stand for here at Automattic is Democratizing Publishing—the idea that anyone with a story should be free to tell it, regardless of income, gender, politics, language, or where they live in the world.

We support this idea by providing hosted website services through WordPress.com for our global customer base and by contributing directly to the open source WordPress project.

At the heart of Democratizing Publishing is our belief in Diversity and Inclusion, a value that has influenced the growth of Automattic, not just in hiring practices, but in how we operate as a company. We’re fully distributed with our ~565 employees spanning the globe representing over 56 countries and over 78 different languages.

Within the past year, we’ve begun to update our communications around WordPress.com to emphasize the versatility of the service as more than just a blogging platform. It’s also a great place to create a business website or even get a custom domain name for your website you host elsewhere.

As part of this communications update, we’ve developed an inclusive brand illustration style that reflects our core values and speaks to the diversity of both our employees and customers. The people we represent are diverse in age, gender, background, ethnicity, and lifestyle. We express this visually in different ways, such as showing a wide range of face shapes, body types, hair styles, apparel, and accessories.

The process by which we arrived at this inclusive visual language was the result of a collaborative effort that included many members of our Automattic team spanning various team divisions, time zones, cultures, and backgrounds. At one point in the project, while we were exploring the representation of human characters in the illustration style we were defining, many Automatticians volunteered their personal stories and pictures of themselves and their friends representing a wide variety of people, backgrounds, and personal styles. This provided inspiration for the diverse cast of characters you now see across our brand illustrations.

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As Antoinette Carroll said at an AIGA NY Diversity Town Hall I attended back in February, “The lack of diverse and inclusive representation in design and tech is not a pipeline issue; it’s a perception issue.”

By representing more diversity in our brand through the creative we produce and the language/tone of our messaging across our user touchpoints, we give a voice to the underrepresented and the voiceless who make up our audience and our own communities. By allowing them to see themselves in places they may not have been able to before, such as in the media and creative we produce, we show them that we share the same core values of inclusivity, and we broaden our reach beyond the expected white, male-dominated tech audience.

We can achieve this by painting a more inclusive picture of the real world — with a diverse palette of shapes, strokes, sizes, patterns, and tones that make up our characters’ unique features.

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