A Mutating Logo For A Lab, Based On Parasites, Viruses, and Bacteria

The colorful new mark for the Bloomsbury Institute for Pathogen Research combines three graphical representations of the center’s various fields of research.

Science, as a field, can still bring to mind images of nerds and lab coats and sterile white laboratories. The new identity for the Bloomsbury Institute for Pathogen Research, however, is just the opposite–fun, fascinating, and eye-catchingly colorful. But best of all, the new identity deftly succeeds in conveying some of the ever-developing excitement of working with cutting-edge science. By overlaying three distinct graphics, representing areas in which the institute does research, the new logo is as dynamic as the group’s work itself.


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The mark, designed by London-based firm Igloo, makes use of three circular elements: a series of smaller circles, representing a microscopic view of a parasite; a sunlike shape, standing in for a genome map of a bacterium; and a set of wavy diagonal lines, representing a virus. The graphics, which can be set in a variety of colors, all work fine on their own, but the magic happens when you stack them on top of one another.

The institute, a joint venture between between the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University College London, was founded in 2011 as an interdisciplinary center for experimental medicine. Olly Lockett, a designer at Igloo, says Bloomsbury wanted to present itself as an “inviting, people-driven research institute that encourages cross discipline discussions and open plan working.”

At the outset of the branding process, the scientists at the institute provided Igloo with some real pathogen-related images from their research. “It took a while to refine them so that the logos weren’t too bamboozling,” Lockett says, which is valid, I suppose, when you’re dealing with incredibly complex micro-organisms. But the real insight was the idea to create graphics that worked together, a visual way of reinforcing the vital, collaborative nature of the BIPR itself.

“Part of the brief was to represent the different areas of research,” Lockett explains, “but we didn’t set about trying to make a logo that was different each time.” Ultimately, he says, “it made sense to bring them together and visually show the fact that they would be working together in one space. Sometimes the versions with all three research areas are quite complex, especially when used in just one color, [but] it seemed to reflect the nature of pathogen research that the logo constantly evolved, and this worked really well both visually and conceptually.”

It’s true, things do start looking a bit messy when you get the circles and waves and sun rays going at once. But then, sometimes science really is messy. That’s why they wear the lab coats.

[Hat tip: Brand New]