Freelance Event Manager Kim van den Wijngaard of Kimspiratie regularly works for the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). She approached Mr. Upside in July 2019 to make designs for the NWO event ‘Synergy 2020’. The NWO’s domain Social Sciences and Humanities (SGW) facilitates a conference every year, “Synergy”.
Brand Identity Design
NWO facilitates science from three domains. Exact and Natural Sciences (ENS), Social and Humanities (SHS) and Technical and Applied Sciences (TAS). Each domain organises one or more meetings every year, for the supporters of researchers and other stakeholders. The Synergy conference is the annual meeting of SGW.
The conference is a one-day event. It was first organised in 2017, when the name Synergy immediately came into use. The name symbolises one of the most important goals of the day: strengthening the connection and collaboration between researchers and other stakeholders, across the full spectrum of the social sciences and humanities.
Synergy 2020 took place on February 6, 2020. Each year a different theme is used to shape the content of the event. This year it was “Changing Societies”. To support the theme visually, a different illustration is also designed every year. This illustration communicates the current theme, ensures recognition and brand experience and is used on all kinds of communication means.
The theme has multiple layers. The world is constantly changing and SGW research must move along with it. Social issues influence the research. But the results of scientific research also have an impact on society.
The event has multiple goals.
The main target group consists of Dutch scientific SGW researchers (from trainee assistant to professor). This is a heterogeneous collection of disciplines within broad sectors such as economics, legal science, social and humanities.
Another target group is the civil society organisations involved in SGW research. SGW wants to bring researchers and knowledge users together. This applies to other governments, practical institutions, companies and research organisations.
Synergy 2020 needed a few visuals. The Synergy 2019 logo had to be adjusted to a 2020 version. The first briefing mentioned only the adjustment of the year.
Mr. Upside had some ideas on a better logo so a new logo was proposed. And accepted.
His main objection with the old logo was that the concept of ‘synergy’ was in no way reflected in the appearance of the wordmark. Mr. Upside therefore proposed a new logo in which ‘synergy’ was communicated more clearly and prominently.
An illustration was needed, specifically for this year and this theme. And a website header had to be adjusted and some posters designed.
The most important part of the project was to develop a creative visual concept. The desired illustration is a visual representation of this visual concept. This vision, this concept, has multiple “ingredients”. A descriptive key word was defined for each ‘ingredient’.
The theme, ‘Changing Societies’ is mainly about change. Change is by definition not static. In addition, the purpose of the event is “connecting” and “interaction” between participants. These are also dynamic concepts. The illustration should therefore represent “motion”. Literally, through animation. Or figuratively, by a more dynamic appearance.
The theme, “Changing Societies” is also about society. Society is a complex whole with many parts. Each part affects the other parts. The large number of influential parts has been reflected in the illustration as a ‘composition of loose parts’. Many smaller parts make one whole. But can also be grouped. And those groups, modules, are in turn influenced by each other.
So a modular construction.
The research supported by SGW has an impact on society. At the same time, society influences the research. The illustration should communicate ‘investigation’ visually and how research and society shape each other.
Although the conference ‘zooms in’ on the content, it will also ‘zoom out’. Briefly show current status, new ‘routes’ and unexplored parts of the field. This helicopter can be visually translated into a map. A map in which discovered routes are shown and new directions are taken. The illustration could therefore have a visual reference to a map.
The large number of parts (of society, of SGW and of the event) raises the question of how to apply distinction and structure in these collections. A proven method is to use different colors. Each part or group can be made recognizable for a unique color. In addition, color ensures a positive and dynamic appearance.
Because the theme and SGW research is so broad, it is inconvenient to choose a figurative form. By definition, it is too descriptive, focuses too much on a few parts and will therefore never cover the broad spectrum. An abstract form, or rather an abstract pattern, emphasizes the multitude of subjects, the ‘helicopter view’ and ensures extremely usefulness in all communications.