Our New Look

It took us ten years, but we finally have a proper corporate identity! In our first decade, we’ve had “temporary” logos, company typefaces, and regularly morphing slide and document templates, but after dedicating some time this summer to thinking about the orientation of our work and our own future as a company, we knew it was also time to finally get around to having a cohesive and evocative identity package that visually represents Changeist.

Not accurate.

Developing an identity that expresses our work as critical futurists set some interesting problems. Most people have no idea what a “futurist” does, and we ourselves rarely use the title, as these days it seems to connote visions of academic, Western- or Euro-centric white men pontificating on flying cars, job-stealing AI, cryptocurrencies and sexbots, with equal measures of excitement and foreboding.

As a refreshing alternative, our practice is invested in exploring diverse, inclusive futures, which consider marginalized voices as equally important in solving the issues we face when framing future scenarios in a global context. We want to imagine futures that include everyone, so we actively seek out colleagues (and clients) who might see things from different perspectives.

As you might suspect, this was not an easy design brief to frame. We had to find a designer who had at least some understanding of our work, and as eager as we were to have a full identity package to work with, we knew we couldn’t expect results overnight. We wanted to approach the brief practically, but not feel constrained to quick, or expected solutions. We have worked with some amazing designers over the years, so we were going to be faced with some hard choices right from the beginning.

Mood: color, type, pattern

Our starting point was a Pinterest mood board where we contributed designs and images which resonated with us. It quickly became clear there were definite colors, patterns and letterforms we gravitated to. Once we had an internal point of view, we sent out an RFP to designers whose work we respect, and whose aesthetic compliments ours. We received multiple proposals and the decision process for this critical step was probably the most difficult one we had to make. After much discussion, we selected Nadia Hassan (also Mod Magpie on Instagram), known by us for her expert eye for pattern and color, and we could not be happier with the results.

After an initial Skype meeting to discuss the brief and answer questions, we set a timeframe of six weeks to complete the project. One week later, Nadia sent us a first round of rough sketches for iconographic marks, which we quickly decided couldn’t adequately represent the wide range of work that we do. Regrouping for the second round, Nadia focused on creating letterforms which spelled out “Changeist.”

This time, we saw several interesting options, though the ones we liked most had an architectural or dimensional quality to them, similar to some of the screen and tile patterns which had figured heavily on our mood board. One option in particular really resonated, as the letterforms could be read in multiple directions, seeming at first to be looking top down, then, switching to a bottom up perspective. We loved that simple, transparent planes formed by lines and voids could produce a complex, multiple-aspect, structured, yet malleable scaffolding. There was no “right” way to read the letters, nor was it even necessary to recognize letterforms at all, which we felt represented Changeist perfectly.

Rough version of Changeist letterforms

For the next round, Nadia explored the letterforms using both color, and wireframe renderings, some with abstracted or repeating designs. We liked them all and began to see many (almost too many!) possibilities.

Early color fill on rough wireframe

Once we had a framework to play with, we felt comfortable exploring different looks and treatments using the building blocks of the wireframe letters. As a company that prides itself on examining possible futures (and yes, they are innumerable) it quickly became evident that committing to a single version of the mark might be unnecessarily limiting, so we asked Nadia to consider the possibilities of multiple variants within a system.

Color explorations

Opening up our scope to form a collective then made it necessary to establish some rules, to bound how each particular mark might be utilized:

  • The color versions are stand-alone marks, made up of two neutral tones, plus spot-color variations. These may be assigned to represent different themes or practices, but is not defined at this time.
  • The wireframe mark will always appear with the “CHANGEIST” word mark when applied to “practical” applications, such as slides, proposals and other professional/corporate documents whether print or digital.
  • The wireframe may also be used as a pattern or watermark without the Changeist text, and may be further abstracted with a gradation or texture.
  • Other variations are acceptable for non-corporate representations and special projects.

Once we had decided on usage rules, there were some minor adjustments to the two versions: cleaning up the corners of connecting line segments on the wireframe version, and bringing the color block letters slightly closer together. We then went through further rounds of color combinations, narrowing down to greys or taupes as base neutrals, in combination with a brighter, geologic earth tone to add pop.

At the same time, we were considering which typeface to use for both the word mark and company documents. Given the global scope of our work, we looked primarily at typefaces which offer both Western and non-Western character sets, but the selection was more limited that expected. After Nadia researched and suggested five options, we chose Ricardo, a beautiful and versatile type, with multiple weights. It’s a plain sans serif, with some unexpected curves and angles—just like us.

Our last round of revisions—to choose the spot colors for the color block version of the mark—actually took much longer than expected. After looking at a myriad of color combinations, we knew that we liked the versions which had a pop of color in them best, so we asked Nadia to show us sets using greys, and taupes as neutrals, then experimented with five earth-based tones: copper, hot pink, melon, mustard yellow, and electric blue. We found the grey tones were more readable overall than taupe, and we morphed the hot pink and melon to get a salmon color, the copper became a hot vermillion and the blue was pushed to be a bit more green.

Once we narrowed down to the final palette, and knowing that we would need both print and digital versions of the colors, we looked at several combinations—each with minute variations—of the four spot-colors we wanted for our final palette: Pink Hematite, Turmeric, Vermillion, and Langite blue, plus the two grey tones. It was for this reason we had gravitated to Nadia’s work in the first place, as her color sense is among the best I’ve ever seen in all the designers we’ve ever worked with. Getting to the final versions of each color, to achieve a balance in tonality and weight as a group, took several rounds of minuscule shifts, but it was time well spent.

The final palette: four spot colors, plus two greys.

From start to finish the project took just over two months. We’re already beginning to use the new marks and now have business cards in our hot little hands. It was an exciting and rewarding project from start to finish, and we hope you like the results as much as we do.

Founded in 2007, Changeist is a multidisciplinary lab and consulting group that helps organizations around the world identify, make sense of, structure and tell stories about what’s next.

As a team of strategists, writers and designers, we bring grounded research and narrative design together, to explore the near next and the far future alike. We partner with agencies, studios, brands, governments and cultural institutions to see further.