Art Direction, Brand Identity, Physical Environments and Exhibitions
Colors and the Kids, Mark Mahaney
Up in the clouds IBM Cloud, the technology powerhouseʼs cloud computing wing, partnered with Athletics to develop a fresh, distinctive brand identity system.
Seeing the unseen The heavily commoditized and largely invisible nature of cloud computing posed a unique challenge for our design team.
Digital DNA In response, our identity sought to humanize and poeticize the digital “genetics” of the Internet, and the brilliant individuals who define it.
Setting the standard The new IBM Cloud identity system has also served as an inspiration for other segments of IBM’s vast product and service offering.
Brand is born
This project involved navigating a set of challenges including a complex approval process of internal IBM teams, the heavily commoditized and largely invisible nature of cloud computing, and an associated lack of visual assets. While IBM design decisions had previously been driven by partner agencies, the company was in the process of building a coherent Brand Experience and Design unit led by Todd Simmons as VP and Mike Abbink as Executive Creative Director. Through this project, Athletics was able to help advocate a design-forward ethos within the growing IBM Brand Experience and Design unit, and to determine what roles and systems IBM needed to establish to allow them to move quickly and on their own terms. Needless to say, the fluidity of this arrangement was rare for a large company like IBM.
For the creators
The resulting brand identity system is born from the intersection of two pure forms—the circle and the hexagon—both known elements of the IBM design language. Drawing intersecting lines between the outer points of these shapes, we yielded an infinite range of unique shapes which create the architecture for the entire system. Everything from composition, to layout, to motion was led by this device. The inspiration behind this system, and its tagline—“For the Creators”—were the developers and engineers who, rather than being invisible cogs in the machine of the Internet, are truly the force behind the entire “DNA” of our experience in digital. We sought to humanize and poeticize the digital “genetics” of the Internet and the individuals who define it. The entire system was brought to life by our good friends, Colors and the Kids.
The start of something
Athletics’ work for IBM Cloud set the tone for all of the technology giant’s subsequent design, branching into social, events, digital, and beyond. IBM’s Brand Experience and Design Team is now a coherent and influential force within the company, overseeing all creative output.