Updating the Polymath brand had been on our to-do list for months, but there’s never enough time when you’re busy launching three new ventures and growing two existing ones. That said, we knew our brand was ready for an overhaul. The company was growing, our perspective broadening, and we wanted the brand to tell a new story.
We reached out to Typozon Design Studio take on the project. We had worked with Typozon before on the brand designs of Táximo and Autolab, and we knew they would create something distinct and powerful.
Tania Jiménez, a Montreal-based designer from Mexico who participated in Polymath’s first Seed project, designed our first logo in 2012. When Polymath Ventures was first created, we began with a three-month experiment in Medellín, Colombia to see if smart people of different backgrounds could come together in a team and design innovative business concepts. The logo Tania created illustrated Polymath’s multidisciplinary approach through a geometric burst of multiple points and connections. This spirit of eclecticism and connectedness still inspires our work.
Fast forward 2.5 years and five ventures later, and we have realized that what we, at our core, are builders. We build companies, from scratch. Every nut and bolt, every relationship and experience. Our new look needed to more clearly illustrate what it is that we do every day.
We began the project by discussing the themes and attributes that define the spirit of Polymath. Words like Human, Solid, and Audacious came up, but we never had consensus around whether a separate symbol would work for us, rather than just a word mark. After all, what kind of symbol represents a company that works in entrepreneurship and innovation?
The first sketches from Typozon included contrasting color combinations within sturdy geometric symbols. An exciting start, but having already a logo of considerable visual complexity, we leaned towards directions that made a strong statement through a more gentle form.
One constraint on the design was the name. The word Polymath is not common, and some might not know the definition: a person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning. We wanted to avoid a possible mistaking of the logo mark for the definition of the name. “What is a polymath? It must be that shape.” For this reason, the brand wanted to avoid strong associations with polygons or mathematics.
We were first opposed to using the company’s initials in the brand, but considering other constraints, we opened to the idea.
Polymath brings together a diverse group of individuals, hailing from over 10 countries. We looked to color to emphasize the multiformity and inclusion of our work and company culture. We reviewed many palettes and debated over things like just how “sour” or “citrus” our yellow should be in relation to the bright red that was just about the only unanimously accepted element in the creative process (Pantone® Warm Red). Some colors immediately resonated or repelled, but the whole system, of course, needed to work together.
The next round of designs showed more developed and polished options that moved the conversation from hypothetical to specific questions. How does this version represent the organization? What will potential partners feel when they see it? Our methodology combines business-thinking with design-thinking, fusing rigorous business strategy, analysis and operational follow-through with beautiful, exciting design solutions focused on people. Which option would represent both spheres simultaneously?
The brands we develop for our ventures transmit the attributes of each company through symbolism – in an instant. The logo of Táximo imparts safety and agility through a bold pair of spread wings, while VincuVentas’s mark illustrates its service of connecting companies with top talent through the linked letters V and N. The concept of Polymath can hardly fit into an elevator pitch, the challenge was to transmit considerable meaning in a first encounter with the brand.
Our working group favored the versions that made use of a bold letter P, but we were not sold on the proposed patterns within the letter. We wanted each element of the design to be deliberate, and found some of the treatments unclear in meaning. We found option D elegant in its reference to the Golden Section, but were not sure people would make the same connection. The 3-D effect in option A created a dynamic composition, but felt trendy.
Another critical constraint came back to the name. Polymath Ventures is long, and the type design had to communicate the brand in a smooth, digestible way. We considered cutting “Ventures”; we thought lower-case lettering might lend the name a more friendly and less technical feel. One interesting dynamic discovered was the name’s binary structure. Two words, with eight letters each. This relationship ultimately won out as Typozon introduced a symmetric design that we fell in love with, with perfectly stacked words next to the P mark.
We couldn’t be happier with how the new brand represents the vision of the organization. The logo mark is as bold as our team. The color blocks evoke bricks, and we build real businesses from the ground up. The typography is professional, cool and formidable, as is our company.
We really didn’t have the time or resources to spare for this project, but seeing the transformation that has happened as we continue to roll out the brand across the organization, it’s hard to imagine how we did without it.