The SCAN-Unit is an internationally renowned research team embedded within the University of Vienna’s Faculty of Psychology, mainly aiming to discover the neural underpinnings of empathy, a domain in which they have made pionieering contributions to the scientific landscape.
Knowing that they were looking for a logo to better represent themselves online, I decided to create a visual identity and some marketing material for their use. This encapsulates a brand- and wordmark, business stationery, a 3D animated promotion video, sound design, and a poster. A necessity to further their research remains the conduct of psychological and medical studies. People often have an aversion to participating in such experiments, which hinders progress. My strategy to overcome this limitation revolves around building a genuinely approachable and contemporary brand image imbued with an air of formality. What I have gathered from past design work for one of the SCAN-Unit’s affiliates is that using this approach, in the context of the predominant demographics, leads to measurable improvements in attention and interest. It was a challenge to retain an appropriate tone for a fundamentally classical institution, while also making it sufficiently sensational for social media. My conclusion: because the research focus itself is not only highly interesting, but public-friendly, the brand can handle a more energetic, colourful, and attention-grabbing mode of marketing without losing authenticity. Not having received an official design brief for the project, I took certain liberties.
The PV consists of both procedural animation and keyframing to visualize neuroimaging. Sound production was inspired by the music of Steve Reich. Never fully developed, there is an adherence to the D-Dorian scale—for its humane, hopeful resolution—, centrally layering the subdominant and dominant expressed as Fmaj7-Gmaj7 progression to the lead of a heart rate monitor.
The mark, as the main identifier of the brand and its image, is a visual portmanteau of the brain and heart. It can further be construed as a butterfly, the Ancient Greek symbol and etymological root of today’s psyche. Instantly friendly, simple enough for all possible print applications, yet distinct and memorable, it is reflective of the unit’s body of work and their field’s history.