Designing a brand for an innovation agency. The story behind Batiscafo’s brand design

«The future is not what it used to be». –Yogi Berra

William Beebe (left) and Otis Barton standing next to the Bathysphere

Founded by Miguel Tito and Silvia Flórez, an industrial engineer and a product designer, Batiscafo is an innovation studio based in Valencia (Spain) that helps companies stay competitive and lead their sectors. Its mission is to identify innovation opportunities, and define new products, services and business models to develop them.

As an innovation agency, it is essential to gain the client’s trust through a consistent, recognizable brand identity that is consistent with the essence and values of the company.

“Batiscafo”: The name

The name Batiscafo comes from a story involving a peculiar man, the ocean and the will to push the frontier of knowledge. Auguste Piccard was a mid-twentieth century physicist, explorer and aeronaut who realized that there was no adequate means to explore the ocean. This prevented access to all kinds of species and phenomena, so he set off to develop various submersible devices facing engineering problems that had never been tackled before. After years of experimenting, those devices, which he called bathyscaphes, reached the depths of the sea.

Bathyscaphe: 1. noun. Manned submersible vessel of a kind prepared to resist great pressures and destined to deep sea exploration.

Brand storyboarding

We started the project by being spectators of the first steps that Batiscafo took to conceptualize his identity and define a brand storyboard or brand platform. We jumped early into the process discussing with them how their company helps others innovate and stay competitive, as well as addressing how they manage to turn ideas into tangible solutions that really bring value to their clients.

We extracted a list of brand values from the brand storyboard and those first conversations, which served as a guide to define their personality and launch the design process, bringing together creativity and strategy. In its shortest form, this list had the following four brand values.

Humanism → People always at the center of relationships and innovation.
Simplicity → We solve complex problems with simple solutions, which are beautiful, useful and accessible.
Curiosity → We are not afraid to admit that we do not know everything. We are always looking for something new to learn.
Action → We go beyond theory. We believe that the best learning happen through experimentation. We take nothing for granted.
Beauty, simplicity, curiosity and the ability to generate movement and transformation are principles that part of Batiscafo’s identity

Designing the brand

After some attempts in different directions we decided to explore a symbol that includes the idea of the bathyscaphe (the device), although in its most essential expression it is simply an eye or a viewer surrounded by expanding ripples, which move generating a symmetrical transformation.

In addition to the device itself, this approach contemplates essential elements in the naming -water and immersion- recreates the moment in which an element -a stone, for example- enters the water (the sea), transforms the medium and generates waves. A gesture -throwing a stone into the sea- that is both a game and a display of simplicity, beauty, movement / transformation and curiosity.

For the construction of the logo, we used the Ikea Sans typography, originally designed by Robin Nicholas for the Swedish company and which was discarded by Ikea itself, introducing Verdana as a global source for all its communication a few years ago. This typeface maintains the characteristic geometric shapes of Futura but with less condensed characters, shorter horns and some details that make it more friendly. It transmits simplicity, order and practicality.

We adopted IBM Plex -designed by Bold Monday in collaboration with Mike Abbink- as a font for general purpose. This font family which combines linear strokes belonging to the mechanical and engineering languages, with human gestures, stands out for its elegance and excellent readability in printing, web and mobile interfaces.

Subaquatic color palette

We were convinced that the use of color in the brand should be restricted to black and white, in order to associate it with values of authority and security, while at the same time giving it weight and simplicity. But we did not want to limit ourselves to following an overly conventional look that is very common in other consulting companies, with which Batiscafo competes head to head.

In order to broaden the spectrum of the color palette without losing coherence with the brand discourse, we were inspired by the seabed, picking a shade of green from the Posidonia and coral red. By adding these two secondary colors to the palette, in addition to achieving a fresher and more vibrant touch, we also added more flexibility and design resources, which would help improve usability in web environments as well as printed elements.

Supporting graphics (Expanding the identity)

Once the brand was designed and the corporate color palette was decided, we used them to build a supporting graphic. We isolated different forms inspired by plankton that rationalize its organic aspect (arcs, straight and undulating lines, circles and other geometric shapes) and built a system based on modular patterns. Diverse in forms and structures and invisible to the naked eye, plankton represents at a conceptual level everything that is not perceived in a conventional manner, which requires a special vision and that not only has life but also importance in its entire ecosystem.

The graphics are displayed on a gridded framework, but are also free at the individual level. It can also be applied inside triangular blocks, evoking putting focus on something that matters but that is subtle and apparently invisible.

The result

The resulting brand and its visual ecosystem show simplicity, seriousness and pragmatism suited for Batiscafo and the sector in which it operates, in balance with more courageous, atypical elements. Color, movement and diversity in the right measure, without artificial or expendable elements, but with room for play, experimentation and learning. Batiscafo’s honest discourse is represented by a graphic solution in tune.

A result that has been reached through the joint work of two teams, Batiscafo and Baku, that understand that the best achievements are obtained through respect, understanding and mutual connection, and not through a classic client-provider scheme.

More info: batiscafo.es / baku.cat