Rebranding // Nonprofit Identity System

Rebranding // Nonprofit Identity System

The Anita Borg Institute gets a fresh new name and identity system:

Project Challenges

When I was approached by the VP of Marketing for Anita Borg Institute to consult on a rebrand, the scope of change was left somewhat open. The challenges, however, were clearly defined: 

1. Brand Equity // Programs and events were not conveying equity back to main brand. Lots of people knew about the Grace Hopper Celebration, but the nonprofit behind it was relatively unknown.

2. Verbosity // Many programs and events when locked up together with main brand end up with a lot of words

3. Signification // The current mark without tagline doesn’t read as being about women, transformation, community, technology, intersectionality or even the letters ABI. And ABI doesn’t convey any of these things.


The new identity system I designed solves for all of these things.

Brand Equity // Surveys showed Grace Hopper Celebration 2017 attendees were more than twice as likely to understand what was than they had in any prior years been able to identify Anita Borg Institute.

Verbosity // Changing the organization’s name from Anita Borg Institute to allows for a friendlier, fresher and more tech-y brand, and a quick read as a nonprofit. Plus, it allows for simpler more concise program marks.

Signification // The mark appears relatively simple and abstract but within it are many complexities related to change in technology and inclusive vision that might be picked up on in different ways by different people. Read’s blog post about its launch for more.

The New Identity System

The colorful and distinctive “Brilliant” mark is retained in all secondary logos, and events and community programs include the whole logo. The logos that use the Brilliant by itself are used in very distinct situations paired with the wordmark.

And, in instances such as some swag where the colorful mark cannot be reproduced, the wordmark (with its slash and .ORG called out) is still plenty distinctive and memorable.

An example of using the Crest (top) and wordmark (bottom right) together, on a banner at the one-day mini-conference HopperX1 Seattle.
An example of using the Crest (front art) and wordmark (sleeve art) together on Volunteer shirts for HopperX1 Seattle.

The Crest and Wordmark

On some level, the Crest (which has the powerful truth Women transform technology / Technology transforms the world in ring text around the “Brilliant”) is the most emotionally resonant. However, it does not feature the brand’s name/functional URL, and in the first year of launch we are far from the kind of brand awareness that, say, the Human Rights Campaign has, to use their logo mark by itself.

Thus, in the brand guidelines I made sure there were specific rules about how it could be used – either together with the wordmark (as in the above examples) or with in text (as in the Abie Awards shown below, or when used as avatars in the brand‘s social media channels.)

Website revisions

The change from to consisted of not just a DNS change but a typography overhaul and a shift to a more hierarchical mega-menu system (previous site menu viewable at Also, I made a short graphical header that relates to not just the logo’s form but its meaning. The right-facing arrow in the logo was always intended to not just show progress but also be a kind of reversal of the traditional cursor arrow (itself designed by woman technologist Susan Kare), and the phrase Let’s change the direction of tech together was one I suggested to be a inclusive call to action for site visitors to join the cause.

The images below show the mega-menu navigation and secondary navigation layer for the Community, GHC and GHCI sites (which prior to the rebrand were distinct and did not even have the same top navigation).

Brand Launch at GHC17

In the weeks after the logo suite was finalized, I was invited to meetings to discuss how the brand launch would happen at Grace Hopper Celebration. After a few of these meetings, I was offered to join as Creative Director. In the following months, there were a multitude of projects large and small to expand and refine the identity system, prepare for the simultaneous conference, website and brand launch. See the GHC17 and I AM Activation projects for details.

Logo bumper animated by Monique Wray

Previous anita borg institute mark variations

There were many variations of the old brand mark which lacked both a cohesive visual system and strong, legible typography. For Grace Hopper Celebration, Systers and all other program logos, the ABI insignia was dropped, Anita Borg Institute was relegated to a secondary element and a different sans serif was used, creating a visual disconnect from the Institute‘s brand.

Let’s talk!

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©2019 Owen Troy