Rebranding & Renaming // AnitaB.org
When the VP of Marketing approached me for Anita Borg Institute to design and consult on their brand, the scope of change was left somewhat open — they didn’t ask for a new name, but in the end were open to this significant a rebrand. The challenges, however, were clearly defined:
1. Brand Equity //Programs and events were not conveying equity back to the main brand. Many 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 the main brand, end up with a lot of words
3. Signification // The current mark without tagline didn’t signify that the brand was about women, transformation, community, technology, or intersectionality. They abstractly made up the letters ABI, which doesn’t convey any of these things.
I designed the new identity system for all of the brief challenges.
Brand Equity // Surveys showed Grace Hopper Celebration 2017 attendees were more than twice as likely to understand what AnitaB.org 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 AnitaB.org allows for a friendlier, fresher, and more techy brand, and a quick read as a nonprofit. Plus, it allows for simpler, more concise program marks.
Signification // The mark, which I christened “The Brilliant,” appears like abstract geometry, 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.
How Anita.B unpacked the rebrand internally & to partners
The mark — called THE BRILLIANT — illustrates how AnitaB.org serves as a light in the darkness. It’s a word that signifies intelligence that’s less gendered than “genius;” it’s is strongly correlated with gemstones, another symbol of feminine strength. The mark’s FACETS reflect our intersectional approach as well as our diverse audience. The mark’s dynamic CUT-SQUARE shape points to inequity and the work that remains to be done. The embedded up-and-to-the-right CURSOR ARROW indicates how we’re changing the direction of tech, and points to a future of mutual growth. The central TRIANGLE borrows an ancient, sacred symbol of the feminine, a reversal of a dominator pyramid. The SLASH connects the logo to the wordmark, and references computer code at a glance. The .ORG in our name references our presence in both the tech and nonprofit worlds.
The New Identity System
The colorful and distinctive “Brilliant” mark appears in all secondary logos, and events and community programs include the whole AnitaB.org logo.
On some level, the Crest (which has the powerful truth Women transform technology / Technology transforms the world in a ring text around the “Brilliant”) is the most emotionally resonant. However, it does not feature the brand’s name/functional URL. In the brand guidelines, I made sure there were specific rules about how it could be used: either together with the wordmark elsewhere in the piece (as in the above examples) or with AnitaB.org in text (as in the Abie Awards shown below, or when used as profile avatars in the brand’s social media channels.
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.
View the abridged brand guidelines here.
The change from Anitaborg.org to AnitaB.org 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 Archive.org).
Also, I made a short graphical header related to the logo’s form and its meaning. The right-facing arrow in the logo was always intended to show not only progress but also be a kind of reversal of the traditional cursor arrow (itself designed by woman technologist Susan Kare). The phrase Let’s change the direction of tech together was one I suggested to be an inclusive call to action for site visitors to join the cause.
The image gallery below shows the mega-menu navigation and secondary navigation layer for the Community site and Events site (which was entirely distinct prior to the rebrand 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 discuss how the brand launch would happen at Grace Hopper Celebration. After a few of these meetings, I was invited to join as the nonprofit’s first Creative Director. In the following months, through many projects large and small, I expanded and refined the identity system, preparing for the simultaneous conference, website, and brand launch.
See the GHC17-18 and I AM Activation projects for details.