Branding & logo design for brain research institute

McGovern Institute branding and Logo design
MITBrandingBrandingBrand StrategyLogo DesignIndustryIndustryEducationProject teamProject teamJulia FrenkleUX & Creative Director, PartnerSkadi GidionsenSenior UX & Digital DirectorLevon KurkjianBrand Strategy DirectorCasey McGeeArt Director35Videoconference Interviews

Brand Strategy Evolution

The McGovern Institute is a collaborative community of world-class, highly specialized researchers who set out to explore and understand the brain in order to help people with brain disorders and enhance the human experience. Upon its founding, the organization petitioned the design of a logo. Over time, however, as their mission evolved and as the logo’s functional challenges emerged, there was a need for change.  We agreed that brand research would be useful in developing the brand strategy.

First, Brand Research

Opus set out to conduct brand research to inform important decisions and next steps. We rigorously tested the existing logo with a variety of users, explored the evolution of the brand, and designed and repeated user-testing of a new logo to better represent the new McGovern Institute. Our analysis provided the confidence necessary to move forward.

Final branding and logo design

After testing several logo options with the target audiences, the team concluded to move forward with an option that keeps a lot of the essence of the original logo but updates it visually to be more contemporary. It is also easier to use in a wide variety of applications, which was one of the important goals of this logo refresh and branding project.

We have deeply enjoyed serving the McGovern Institute across a wide range of initiatives designed to showcase their important work and profound impact through brain research. Through other services including website print and infographic design, we are able to focus on communication efforts in addition to branding & logo design that are the most engaging and moving for their target audiences.


Brand Development

To help the McGovern Institute assess the organization’s alignment with their existing logo, we led a streamlined brand development exploration for branding and logo design. During this, we identified an important evolution in their higher purpose, we captured the detailed essence of the organization’s persona, we succinctly articulated their “offer”, and we vetted and prioritized their most compelling points of difference.

At the end of this collaborative exploration, the McGovern Institute team not only had a strong foundation from which to communicate a brand that had evolved but they were also able to more clearly determine the conceptual themes for a new logo. One of those themes, was to honor the spirit of what was still very relevant and well represented in the existing logo.

Existing Logo Test

Beyond using a refreshed brand essence as a screen for evaluating the existing logo, we assessed the logos uniqueness, functional performance, and perceived meaning and associations. We tested the logos simplicity, adaptability, and visibility and identified opportunities for improvement. We also, through a series of videoconference surveys with key audience groups, learned that the current logo was not particularly memorable and that it was representing emotions and connections that were not intended or desired. The results of this rigorous analysis gave the team confidence necessary to move forward with a new logo.

Logo Design

Inspired by our discoveries in the brand development exploration and the lessons we learned in testing the existing logo, we developed a creative brief for the McGovern Institute which documented the 4 different themes of logo design we would pursue along with all of the supporting information. We eventually presented over 20 logos to the team for their review and with their guidance made refinements and narrowed down to two logos which were both deemed to work very well.

To help the team make a decision about which new logo to move forward, we conducted a second round of video conference interviews with a different set of individuals from McGovern’s most relevant audience groups. During this survey, we were testing how well each of the two marks represented a range of key brand attributes and, then ultimately, which logo best represented the redefined McGovern Institute.

Our unbiased analysis and synthesis of the survey results allowed the team to make their final logo decision with much more pride, conviction, and peace of mind.

In addition to the branding & logo design, the website redesign with custom icon design was also part of our work with the McGovern Institute.

McGovern logo on newsletter
McGovern logo on newsletter