Hey! It’s Edwy (for those of you who don’t know, it’s pronounced “Ed-wee”, yea it’s weird, I know) Random fact: this is my 4th year in CaseIT. 3rd year as the Creative Director (yea, I should move on, but it’s the last year - I promise). In these 4 years, a lot has changed. The organizing committee has changed, the event has changed, tech has changed, CaseIT has changed. This year in particular, CaseIT undergone more drastic changes and some of you might be like “whoa, where did this come from? Gimme answers!” Well I’m glad you asked, let me explain.
Internally, this change started with us - the Creative team. We used to be an isolated silo of designers, the nerds who did “computer design stuff”. Now, we actively work with the rest of the Organizing Committee (OC) by involving the other portfolios, getting their expertise, and integrating their feedback.
We also changed the way we work. To keep the entire OC aligned with CaseIT's overarching goals, we developed a branding strategy that became the holistic "why we're doing what we’re doing". Additionally, using the sprint framework this year, we were able to rapidly ideate, develop, present, and get feedback on our ideas with the OC in a matter of days. We were hustlinn. (Shoutout to Flora for fun-filled meetings at SAP).
Externally, the changes are most obvious in the branding language. And this brings us to the topic of this blogpost. For those of you unfamiliar with CaseIT, this will be a look into our design process. For those of you who were familiar with the corporate blues of CaseIT back in the day, this year’s branding will come to you as a surprise, but sit tight, we’ll take you through this.
To begin, we’ll take you back to the beginning - the inception of CaseIT. It was 2004, and it all began as a competition between students at SFU. The dream was to have the competition take place at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue - a place for political leaders, deliberations, and negotiations. Here is a blueprint of the Wosk:
Add some text on it, and bam - the first CaseIT logo.
This logo has served CaseIT well for 11 years as it became recognized as the leading international case competition with a focus on MIS. However, the logo in of itself has its issues which made it hard for application and legibility.
Also 11 years ago, the term “technology” was very much IT centric. It was very techy, sci-fi-ish, something you would see in the Matrix, with all the lines of code floating in midair. This is what shows up on Google when you enter “technology”.
As you can see, the branding language at the time reflected that perfectly.
Just for kicks, here is a throwback of the previous branding in action.
However, technology has evolved, and it’s been much more human-centric. Technology is now more invisible, the focus is on how it fits into our lives, it’s about the people using it. This is what comes up when we think of human centered technology nowadays:
So with this in mind, we had two main goals - to take the logo to it’s next iteration, and to keep the branding centered around people.
It was 2015, and we finally decided it was time to simplify the existing logo. This year, the wosk became irrelevant because we moved the Discussion Panel somewhere else. We went through a couple of iterations, some worked, some didn’t.
We finally abstracted the logo to this. Overall, this logo maintained the core elements of the first one, so the transition isn’t as jarring. It also has a lot more room to breathe when the lettering is spaced from the curves.
But again, this logo had its problems too. There is a balance issue with the heftier left side, the space between the C and the A creates awkward gaps, and there are legibility issues with the descriptor on smaller scales.
This year, we also simplified up the design language using larger splashes of white space and cleaner modern fonts. However, everything will always feel cold and corporate when you’re working with 50 shades of blue.
In the following year, we evolved the logo to it’s next iteration. The descriptor is dropped from the logo because CaseIT has already been established as a MIS case competition for 13 years. The logo type has also been moved to the center of the logo making it much more visually balanced and structured.
However, when we were using the logo at smaller scales, we realized it looked very similar to the copyright logo, I mean you can only get so far with a C and outer circles.
To bring some warmth into the existing corporate coldness, we decided to add an accent colour. Looking at our identity as hosts of an international competition, there were two things that made up our identity - being Canadian and students of SFU. And what do these two have in common? Red.
This year we also introduced a more solidified branding language around the idea of a line. A line can be used to signify the connection, progression, and growth. This gradient line became of the core of our branding and it used in all the materials this year.
However, when it came time to do our branded social media pushes, these were the comments we got:
Yea, we could iterate again.
And now we’re here. The 4th iteration of the CaseIT logo and brand.
This year we developed a branding strategy and defined who CaseIT was as a brand. After two weeks of meetings, lots of sticky notes, and banging our heads against the wall, this is a snippet of what came out of our hard work:
We also used the Sprint framework from Google Ventures and we developed the following long term goal:
We then moved onto the creative strategy. We started by having everyone find images of things that tied directly to CaseIT values we developed from the branding strategy.
We then took all the images, sorted them out into key themes, and created three distinct inspiration boards.
And this was time to get feedback. We presented this to the OC, and we got overwhelming positive feedback on International Diversity. This wasn’t surprising, because from our collective experience, what made the CaseIT experience was the people. It was the international teams, the industry professionals, the OC, and 4 intense, sleepless days of being with them. We also decided to keep elements of professionalism, because it was still a business case competition where judges from the industry attended.
With the focus on people and to allude to the diversity of teams, cultures and experiences, we looked firstly at the world flags.
This informed our colour palette. If you do the squint test, what you’ll see is a lot of blue, red, and yea, yellow. The existing palette already had blue and red, now we add the yellow. The palette is also more saturated and vibrant, making the brand feel more energetic and bold.
For the logo design, we simplified down the existing logo even more. Taking the “C” as the base, and keeping some elements of the concentric rings, we combined the ideas of global networks, connections, and diversity.
And to enhance the idea of diversity, we didn’t only want to have a singular static logo, but a modular logo system with a variety of patterns and colours.
Keeping it human centric, we kept the photography focused on people. Applying colour treatment over the photos, using typography and the logo, this is how the branding came together.
Here are some examples of our presentation slides:
Anna and Azat iterated many times to create these smexy posters:
Bruce revamped the CaseIT site, keepin it freesh:
And in the past couple weeks, Anna and Azat created some slick print material to keep everything on brand:
Also Sol created this smoooth video to sum up the evolution of the CaseIT logos:
And this is where we’re at, and still a work in progress. To be honest with y’all, to get to this has been exhausting, but seriously well worth it. Not to brag, but the creative team meets minimum twice a week, and to see them dedicate so much of their time, sweat and blood into creating something great is inspiring to say the least. They seriously deserve a shoutout (Anna, Azat, Bruce, Solomon, and Flora). And also an extra shoutout to the entire OC for giving us valuable feedback - you guys rock.
And with that, this is the accumulation of 4 years of change:
So this was a glimpse into our process, and the reasons of why things have changed. We design with intention and careful consideration of people and context. Having said that, we’re always looking for feedback, and we can’t wait to show you more of our work in the next couple months!