IBM Think 2018

The IBM Think 2018 conference in Las Vegas will bring together inspiring figures from disparate fields for a series of workshops, experiences, networking, talks, and education. It will also communicate to the world IBM’s renewed focus on its longtime corporate mantra: Think. In late 2017, with this unprecedented event on the horizon, IBM came to Athletics with an unusual creative assignment: explore what Think means in our time.

Athletics set out to map the philosophical, visual, and experiential possibilities of this deceivingly simple term—think—in the context of an event experience. To start, we sought a firm foundation in the past, visiting the Lubalin Archive at Cooper Union to research the origins of the Think slogan. Leafing through archival event materials, documentation from world fairs, and corporate publications, we absorbed the optimism and excitement of IBM’s historical design and messaging, and uncovered the following quote by IBM collaborator Paul Rand, which helped define our working definition of Think:

“Innovation is the enemy of trendiness, pretense, and timidity. It recognizes the genuine from the spurious. It tantalizes the viewer, stimulates the mind, intensifies meaning, generates interest, and is at the heart of both better design and better business.”

Our designers and writers then explored ways to bring Think to life in 2018. Inspired by ideas like emotional intelligence and time as currency, we curated a theoretical set of people, experiences, and places to help crystallize how the upcoming conference might break the mold. We designed a grid system and language structure which creatively employ two versions of Plex—IBM’s new official font—to reflect the dichotomy between humanity and technology. And we penned the Think manifesto as well as profiles of a “thinker” and a “thought.”

After this exploratory phase, we partnered with Zeitguised, a Berlin-based 3D and motion graphics firm, to render a series of creative interpretations of the Think wordmark. The Think manifesto was translated into a script read by Michelle Peluso in a brief video announcement of the event. And with a series of visually rich motion studies and renderings, we formalized a new Think identity in guidelines that are currently being rolled out.

To learn more about the Think 2018 conference and see Athletics’ work in action, visit here, and keep an eye out for a full case study as Think 2018 approaches.