Established in 2015, The Alan Turing Institute is the UK’s national institute for data science, headquartered at the British Library. Founded in collaboration by Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, UCL, and Warwick with the goal to “answer a national need for investment in data science research” its mission is to “make great leaps in data science research in order to change the world for the better”. The new identity for the institute has been designed by London, UK-based Red&White.
The concept of the identity combines The Alan Turing Institute’s academic gravitas with the pioneering nature of the research it is conducting. The design system uses the guiding principles of the Fibonacci sequence to create a clear framework, and the font is Haas Unica. The gravitas of the front layer of information gives way to the explosive and inspiring imagery behind, conveying the visionary nature of the work the Institute is doing in the emerging field of data science. The design grid for the brand is based on the Fibonacci sequence.
Red&White provided text
The old logo wasn’t around long enough to gather much traction and it could have easily remained the logo and no one would have complained, even though it was far from exciting, the type choice less than inspiring, and the green rule on the left confusing. The new logo isn’t that exciting either, the type choice is a little more interesting — Neue Haas Unica being the best of the Helveticas/Universes — but it still remains a little confusing in its arrangement… sure the “l” and “i” align, but why? Maybe the answer lies in an underlying grid image that we don’t have? It’s a decent logo and in its dryness it does convey data-nerdery and a certain doggedness in getting results.
In application, the visual hook is a flexible background of angles, where I am guessing the joints snap to the Fibonacci spiral, as mentioned in the quote. (Again, we might be missing a key underlying grid image!) The angled, ruptured look of the backgrounds feels like difficult, data science stuff is happening while the bright colors make it look vibrant and a little happy. It’s an odd yet pleasing combination.
The overall typographic approach wants to be full-on Typographic International Style but falls short. The font weights chosen don’t have either enough contrast or enough similarity between them to create either tension or sameness in weight. I mean, the layouts are fine but they could have been total Pinterest bait with a more hardcore typographic framework.
Overall, the identity does conveys a sense of academic research activities and some sort of non-threatening computational coldness. What would have taken this to the next level — in honor of Alan Turing’s human vs. machine test — is if the backgrounds or the typography were computer-generated, leading the viewer (or at least design bloggers and commenters) to try to determine if the layouts were created by human or machine.