Celebrating Science Innovation and Solutions
Located in Canada's biggest technology and science incubator (MaRS Discovery District), Geneseeq is a precision oncology company whose mission is to expand patients' treatment options using its advanced genomic profiling technology.
After closing a series D funding round in 2019, among the largest rounds that year for a GTA company, the Nanjing-Toronto genomic diagnostic company is set to expand its global footprint.
As part of its efforts to strengthen its presence in North America, Geneseeq’s team embarked on a rebrand strategy with our studio to solidify the company's ethos and values, reimagine the visual identity and transform the brand into a trusted partner in the bioscience landscape.
Scope of project
Brand Strategy – Branding and Identity Design – Messaging – Identity System Design – Web Design and Development – Digital and Printed Marketing Assets – Marketing Brochure – Video Production - SEO Strategy
Geneseeq approached us to reposition their brand in the ever-changing biotech and pharmaceutical industry, with a new identity system and to recalibrate their brand positioning and messaging.
The initial project scope included research, brand strategy, design strategy and implementation and encompassed the visual identity system, website design, stationary package and a full range of marketing assets.
This list evolved as we worked with Geneseeq‘s team and grew our relationship. We were responsible for the brand strategy and positioning and for providing strategic insight to help the company transition from a biotech startup to one of the industry's leading global companies.
Our studio brought together a multidisciplinary team consisting of content developers, writers, videographers and we collaborated with exhibit designers, trade show booth builders and local print shops to make this project come to life.
Our studio conducted a thorough audit of Geneseeq’s brand to understand who their competitors are, how they have marketed their products and services, the motivations of their target market, as well as the company’s strength and opportunities.
This audit was supplemented with face-to-face discussions and involved lots of desktop research into the bioscience sector. We also reviewed all the company’s existing marketing materials and science communication materials to identify and prioritize opportunities for improvement.
Once we finalized the audit, we sat down with CEO Dr. Wu and the management team at Geneseeq, to map our process to their needs, craft the new brand’s strategy (story) and determine how success will be measured.
This session was an opportunity for the organization to contribute directly to the branding process and articulate the scale of the challenge.
To ensure differentiation the research stage included a visual analysis of Geneseeq’s main competitors
Merging strategy and design
At the end of the research phase, we delivered a brand audit report that summarized the key strategy and creative insights upon which to build the new brand strategy.
This preliminary framework for the rebranding process defines the essence of the brand (values, mission, tone of voice). The differentiation and positioning strategy is refined into a design brief that frame our creative work and inform our design decisions.
Also included is the client vision and their different audiences – Geneseeq’s brand have to resonate with an audience of non-scientists, including patients/patient advocates, media outlets and the startup community (CEOs, founders, entrepreneurs, investors), while remaining highly credible with health professionals (oncologist, pathologists, researchers), biopharma professionals and industry representatives.
We conducted a facilitated session with the key client stakeholders where we agreed on a differentiated strategic position which we thought could offer a real competitive advantage in a non-designed oriented sector.
Leading the fight against cancer
The presentations included two different design routes. For each route we produced a range of design applications to demonstrate how the visual system would work from posters to office space, banners, and the company’s stationery set.
Geneseeq selected the solution that would reinforce the company’s position as leading the way in cancer precision medicine.
The strategic insights generated from our research pointed the way to a core brand positioning based on three pillars: innovation, collaboration-centred and human-centred. The competitive audit also revealed that branding in the biotech industry focused mainly on technology, not people.
All of the pieces came together into a unique story: “Accelerate progress in cancer care, together”.
Geneseeq’s core purpose became clear and this became the foundation for the brand that will inspire the creative process.
Our team led the production of a video that has no spoken words, designed to unveil the core elements.
Geneseeq’s brand story comes to life over three elements: circles, semi-circles, and the arc
Circles are truly everywhere in science and in the biotech field. One can witness this elemental shape in cells, bacteria, and microscopic organisms; In a variety of laboratory equipment for genomic research: laboratory centrifuges, Petri dishes, microscope objective lenses, magnifying glasses. In visualization models: circular visualization (Circos), radial and hyperbolic trees, wedge stack graph (sunburst), dependency graph/circular hierarchy; As well as in medical equipment, devices and supply: PET/MRI scanners, medical lights, operating room lights, some windows of an operating room door.
The predominance of these circular shapes inspired the new visual identity. This circularity became a metaphor for Geneseeq’s collaborative approach and the partnership the company wants to build with clients, potential clients, and colleagues in the field.
Expanded to its universal symbolism this geometric shape also represents different notions including unity, stability, infinity and perfection among others.
Encourage those within the industry to work together
From the original concept of dualism, that refer to any philosophy that believes in two, the visual identity explores how two things unify to favour movement and in turn, change. The distinction should not be thought of as a dichotomy, but rather as coexisting principles.
These two elements (left semi-circle and right semi-circle) are not positively or negatively charged. Each side of this dualism has equal power and importance, interconnected and complementary (e.g. the yin/yang symbol).
The left hemisphere represents Geneseeq’s science, solutions and technology, with an imagery that would be an authentic representation of different types of products and services the company is offering.
The right hemisphere conveys collaboration and partnership with photography inspired by user-focused scenarios to capture the different applications of next generation sequencing technologies in cancer research, diagnostics and therapeutics.
The Arc: a Nanjing-Toronto company
To illustrate the connection between Geneseeq’s Canadian and Chinese headquarters, the visual system features an arc to tie Geneseeq Canada identity with its parent company’s heritage in China.
We calculated the distance between the coordinates of these two points:
Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District, Canada
High-Tech District of Nanjing, China
The Arc is born out of the portion of the circumference of the earth this distance represents:
11384.35 km (28.4% or the earth’s circumference)
This image illustrates how the arc is drawn.
The Arc is a key element for the new visual language and as the ultimate symbol of the company’s expansion it inspires a set of proprietary icons, custom illustrations and even infographics (where the Arc represents a progress indicator in the process).
Human-centred and collaboration-centred
To support the concept and better convey collaboration and partnership in the circular layout, we mixed technology, science images and patterns with human-centred images.
We revisited the photography to capture how Geneseeq’s products and services connect physicians, researchers, and pharmaceutical companies across the tools they need to advance the promise of cancer precision medicine.
The left hemisphere imagery evokes research, science and discoveries with relevant representations of Geneseeq’s technology and (place) put the company at the centre of innovation in cancer care.
The right hemisphere provide context to the solutions the company is offering. These pictures were selected to convey partnership and collaboration to capture the different applications of Geneseeq’s innovative solutions in cancer research.
Keeping patients at the heart of science innovation
To better showcase the company’s scientific breakthroughs and discoveries, and capture how Geneseeq’s products and services are making a difference in patients’ lives, our studio designed patient-centred semi-circles concepts.
For the left hemisphere, the company’s Research & Development department provided us with Microscopy images of cancer cells. The right hemisphere pictures focused on Cancer patients and survivors' stories.
This storytelling captures the three design principles of Geneseeq’s new visual identity: Innovation (scientific images) - Collaboration centred (semi-circles concept) and human centred (patient’s portrait). This new design approach celebrates the company’s essential purpose across different collateral and will help the company engage with people on an emotional level.
An image library was created in collaboration with the client to offer the content creators at Geneseeq a range of semi-circle concepts and to get the company ready for the brand launch.
Heritage colour palette
One of the challenges was to create a unique and modern visual identity system that preserve Geneseeq’s brand equities, the logo and the purple colour, to honour its parent company’s brand heritage.
The primary colour palette derives from the heritage purple.
Defined by its orange and purple combination, this modern colour palette distances Geneseeq from the predictable colour schemes used in the industry with blue and white as primary colours.
As one of the most identifiable elements of the visual system, these core colours, dominant in every visual communication, unify the brand’s identity, helping build brand recognition.
Purple and orange is Geneseeq’s signature colour combination.
An unmistakable visual impression
The type palette is a mix of serif and sans serif fonts and work together with the colour palette, the patterns and a clean layout to create modern compositions with an editorial feel.
In addition to the use of portrait images, we used documentary photography style to provide context to the company’s solutions. These images capture real-life situations and settings with scenarios as relatable as possible to Geneseeq’s primary audience: biopharma professionals and academic researchers, and researchers in the public and private sector.
Every detail matters
A set of proprietary patterns were created to bring depth to the visual system, help develop further the brand’s story and maintain a cohesive brand identity.
These brand patterns were created from representation of technology and science information. It’s an effective way to illustrate innovation across the event posters, the website and other brand communications.
The visual system toolkit includes four different brand patterns to reinforce the brand principles and Geneseeq’s innovative approach:
- A sequence of binary digits (bits), either 0 or 1
- A Nucleic acid sequence
- A Nucleic acid double helix
- A Contiguous sequence of DNA
Tools for the team
For this new system we developed comprehensive guidelines to provide the client with the tools to manage their brand through marketing initiatives, events, conferences and brand activation campaigns.
The guidelines book (brand guide) clarifies the positioning strategy and the company’s brand promise and includes a set of rules to explain how the new identity works and how it should be applied and carried forward.
When designing a new visual identity system for a client, we always consider how this system will be implemented and develop a series of mockups to show the system in context.
This nomenclature (examine, synthesize) presents the core toolkit elements including colour palette, typography, imagery, patterns, which will help the company consistently tell its unique story across all the potential customer touchpoints and build brand equity.
Transforming Geneseeq’s digital presence
Our studio was also commissioned by Geneseeq to develop a more robust online platform that would engage with their target audience, including: website design, SEO optimization and the development and launch of one SEO campaign that required a technology and content strategy.
This project required the involvement of a developer and a consultant and we brought in a scientific writer specialized in medical writing, science writing, and technical writing who offered a great perspective on the messaging strategy and helped in conveying scientific information in a concise manner.
Our website redesign process always starts with a UX design strategy that combines Wireframing and Information Architecture to identity the content needs, map out the user flow and provide navigational context.
Geneseeq’s competitors have a strong, emotional sense of purpose, yet this spirit is not communicated through their brand and their websites.
For our client’s website, our team created a visual story to communicate how Geneseeq leads a revolution in healthcare by equipping healthcare providers with precise and actionable information from the genome.
For the product pages we wanted to create more emotional connections with their target market, simplified by framing the brand narrative around the patient journey and the impact of Geneseeq’s products and services on patients’ lives.
The website redesign presentation was one of the most interesting phases of a strategic plan as the client gets to see brand differentiation strategy come to life and how their new brand identity boldly separates from traditional competitors and incumbents.
A set of collateral to match the brand
As part of the brand implementation strategy, our design studio developed a variety of brand assets and launch applications, including posters, presentation and report templates, science communication materials as well as a suite of printed and digital materials.
These applications revolve around the three core elements of the brand: circles, semi circles and arc.
By matching these graphic devices with an imagery that reflect Geneseeq science for each piece, we aim to place people and collaboration at the centre of technology and science.
Innovate and communicate boldly
Each design application was an opportunity to stretch the concept idea further. From user interfaces to brochures, from presentation templates to trade show materials, every design project came with its own unique challenges and its own set of requirements.
Our design process always begins with understanding the project parameters and identifying constraints. These constraints are not seen as restraints but rather as a catalyst for creativity. They challenge us to explore new directions and often forge the path to design innovation.
For Geneseeq’s marketing brochure “thinking outside the box” or “outside the standard trifold layout” was necessary to find a design solution that would allow us to include the quantity of information the team wanted to get across, while delivering a design in accordance with print readability, legibility, and accessibility standards.
To illustrate discovery and innovation in science, we came up with the idea where: with each turn of a fold a new semi-circle concept will reveal itself.
We developed a prototype to demonstrate the concept and the experience of a potential client discovering the different semi-circle concepts hidden in this brochure.
Side by side
For some scientific communications intended to an audience of researchers, scientists and health professionals we wanted to capture the spirit of research, science and discovery.
To support this, we created an additional story element to be combined with other Geneseeq’s design tools: Juxtaposition.
Juxtaposition helps create a visual story around Geneseeq’s collaborative approach to advance progress in cancer care.
By placing two contrasting elements side by side, this technique reveals a circle to represent one of Geneseeq’s main values: collaboration.
We used the same principles as those used for the hemispheres: left side to represent the science and the technology. Right side to provide context to the solutions Geneseeq is offering.
Leading the way
It was originally envisaged to launch Geneseeq’s brand at the 2020 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago, the world’s largest cancer conference. This launch was supported by a booth design and event collaterals, and a suite of brand activation applications ( posters, brochures, banners).
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Meeting has been transformed into an all-virtual event. Our team and Geneseeq reimagined the brand launch strategy for the digital landscape (environment) focusing on the potential of digital tools and the new website design.
The new identity system proves its flexibility across print and digital and the brand is ready for the challenge of what the future of conferences could look like.
Running a successful discovery phase clarified the brand’s positioning and helped our team and the management team discover what differentiates Geneseeq from the other genomic companies.
The strategic platform gave us the opportunity to shift perspectives and create new possibilities for the brand.
As Geneseeq continue to scale, this new system more in line with the company's ambitions, will help increase brand recognition.
We envisioned how the new brand could go beyond these initial applications, bring the company shoulder to shoulder with other biotech industry leaders, and have an impact on patients’ lives.