Founded in 2011, the Harvard Innovation Labs has nurtured more than 6,000 innovators and entrepreneurs who have started 1,668 ventures across dozens of industries, from enterprise technology to life sciences, education, and social impact. The purpose of the i-lab is to inspire venture creation and cross-disciplinary collaboration amongst all Harvard students, as well as select alumni and faculty. In 2019, approaching its 10th anniversary, the i-lab completed work on a new visual identity with the aim of moving in a design direction that would be reflective of Harvard’s 13 schools and dynamic ecosystem while maintaining a unified aesthetic.
Thirteen icons illustrate i-lab’s “One Harvard” vision which brings together people across a wide range of backgrounds, skills, and interests.
The goal of the visual identity is to create a family of icons while keeping a clear differentiation between them. When combined, the icons allow for the creation of patterns and composite symbols that reflect i-Labs’ cross-disciplinary ecosystem — a diverse community enabling strong connections through experiential learning and shared knowledge. The visual identity also reflects the many possible “collisions” between innovators across all 13 Harvard schools. Whether through color, pattern, typography, or a combination of the three, designers can create a compelling expression of visual communication for the identity.
Experimentation is essential to innovation. Colors and icon patterns enable continuous evolution of visual language to best fit the community.
Exploring the application of the visual identity to soft goods is a tactile way to engage the community with the i-lab brand.
“The Harvard community is evolving over time, and we have to understand these signals so that we’re prepared for the future,” says Brand Experience & Creative Director, Adrian Gill. “It was important for us to listen to our students and alumni, and create an opportunity for more visual communication. We also wanted to position the i-lab as a dynamic, relatable place and space that speaks to innovators across many different industries and backgrounds. The new visual identity takes consumer behavior into consideration and integrates thoughtfulness around diversity in all of its forms.”
Innovation thrives when equity thrives. “Women Founders Lead the Way at Harvard” (#WomenLedWednesdays) is a storytelling vehicle amplifying a broader set of voices on the entrepreneurial journey.
Matt Segneri, Bruce and Bridgitt Evans Executive Director at the Harvard Innovation Labs, says, “The goal with our design approach is to continue to inspire meaningful connection and engagement with all of what the i-lab has to offer. When our community members see new patterns come to life through the 13 icons, we want them to get a feel for the intentional serendipity that we design for at the i-lab. For entrepreneurs, relationships are everything. Innovation happens when the right creative minds meet.”
The President’s Innovation Challenge (PIC) is an annual competition for the Harvard community. Typically a physical event, it was reimagined as an immersive, virtual audio-visual event featuring an interactive microsite.
4,000 people from 87 countries tuned in for the live digital PIC Awards Ceremony. It showcased 10 winners across 5 categories, and winning teams received $510,000 in prize money from the Bertarelli Foundation.