Established in 2010, originally as Google Ideas, Jigsaw is a company within Google — it previously existed independent of Google as an Alphabet company — that “forecasts and confronts emerging threats, creating future-defining research and technology to keep our world safer”. To do this, researchers and technologists at Jigsaw create standalone digital products, browser extensions, and open-source programs that help everyone from citizens to journalists to activists fight broad, global issues like disinformation, censorship, harassment, and violent extremism. For example, a product recently getting a lot of press is Assembler, a tool that aims to make it easier to judge manipulated media (like deepfakes) and help prevent the spread of disinformation — along with that release last month, Jigsaw introduced a new identity designed by San Francisco, CA-based Upperquad.
A play on Jigsaw’s name and the interconnectedness of their work, the logo stems from the connection point between two puzzle pieces. Close cropping emphasizes Jigsaw’s relentless search for solutions, while giving the mark a smart, modern feel. The custom wordmark introduces technical precision and stability.
The old logo, designed by Spin, was pretty funky, taking the same concept of jigsaw puzzle pieces as the new logo but applying it in a more maximalist way, with a highly detailed “J” that established a highly textured visual language that had a kind of viral presence. All together it was good but perhaps visually overstimulating. The new logo establishes a more minimalist approach with an abstract “J” monogram built from the crop of two puzzle pieces coming together. I’m not sure I would have deciphered that without the explanation image above the logo and I’m in doubt of my own powers of deduction because when I loaded this project the first thing I saw was the explanation image so I will never know if I could have deduced what the monogram is on my own. Aside from this moment of self-reflection, the monogram is really good. I like the harshness of the cut that yields the “J” and how the circle in the negative space contrasts with everything else. The wordmark looks solid too and starts to establish a more serious and slightly gloomy tone with its non-friendly uppercase presence — I think it’s the cut in the “J” that gives off those vibes.
Jigsaw addresses emerging digital threats with an interdisciplinary approach that includes research, partnerships, projects and products. To celebrate each project and product as its own, we developed a flexible system for creating logos that allows the work to take on independent identities without losing connection to the broader Jigsaw brand.
Giving each product/project a logo seems like a good idea now but it’s the kind of thing that eventually leads to problems with each product/project wanting a cool logo of their own. I bet that five, seven years from now we will be reading a case study about how product/project logos have all been unified under one master brand. Other than their small size and pairing with the font, there is no overwhelming cohesiveness to them. Nonetheless, for now, they are all alright and look great on a chart.
Because Jigsaw’s work often involves delicate, even dangerous, situations, we used typography to reduce our reliance on imagery. We worked with Graham Bradley to create a custom typeface, Jigsaw Sans, in 4 weights to reflect both their work and their identity. Large, open proportions capture the humanity of the organization, while subtle, angular elements reference their roots in technology.
The custom type family is pretty good. Reminds me of a number of other typefaces with the flat terminals but this is as good and slick as it gets, so no complaints really.
Fragmentation, distortion, dimension, connection and illumination became consistent themes woven throughout our digital and print applications. We pushed the bounds of our geometry, color and type systems to create an extensive body of artwork that feels at once diverse and cohesive.
There isn’t a whole lot in terms of typical applications… the most concrete, tangible example is the actual Jigsaw website, which is stunningly good from start to finish with a lot of great details and subtle transitions. The applications directly above are a little esoteric and ambiguous. They are kind of interesting to look at but I’m not convinced they say or do much to convey what Jigsaw does, other than perhaps “It’s complicated”. Any of the T-shirts could be a New Order album cover so that’s cool.
In collaboration with Jigsaw and Imprint Projects, we also launched The Current. The Current is a digital publication that explores a single issue in depth each release, with the goal of demystifying complex topics. To exude optimism, we set The Current landing page in white and elevated our serif font, GT Sectra, to create a more editorial feel.
The The Current website is also great and the promotion of GT Sectra to play a bigger role pays off, creating a very confident, contemporary editorial presence for the publication. Overall, this is a very slick, serious-looking identity that reflects the gravity and complexity of the issues Jigsaw tackles.