Established in 1975 in Seattle, WA, by surgeon Dr. William Hutchinson the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is a world-renown institute devoted to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases — its faculty and staff of 2,700 boasts three Nobel laureate researchers and is credited for pioneering bone marrow transplantation for treating leukemia. The center is named after William’s brother, Fred “Hutch” Hutchinson, a famous baseball player during the 1930s and 1950s, who died of lung cancer at the age of 45. This past September, the organization shortened its name to Fred Hutch and introduced a new identity designed by Seattle-based Hornall Anderson.
In addition to formally shortening the institution’s name to Fred Hutch, we sought to create an updated visual identity that would better capture the energy, passion and progressive drive of the brand. The new mark was designed to evoke both the spirit and science of true discovery, abstractly referencing both the moment of inflection when something new is uncovered or created, and the larger search for cures.
The old logo, set in all kinds of Optima, wasn’t only boring and generic but also slightly confusing in its color hierarchy, elevating “Hutchinson Center” with the bold letters, which is fine but it left the thin combination of “Fred Cancer Research” oddly grouped on its own. Other than spelling out exactly what it was and did, there wasn’t anything memorable about it. The new icon is a great abstraction of what one pictures observing when peering through a microscope as well as what we imagine our cells and inner gooey stuff doing inside our bodies while we go about our days. Forming an “H” in the center, while other bits and pieces float around it, hints at a discovery amidst all that science stuff. The execution is simple and spot on, from the angle of the elements to the colors. Perhaps it could use an alternate version for small sizes where there is more spacing between the pieces. The wordmark is bold and unobtrusive, specially now that the name has shrunk from 34 letters to 9.
In signage, the logo looks quite great with that strong circular holding shape and the concept for the tinted windows is pretty great. Hope they can make that happen.
In the new ads and other communications, things get a little wonky and weird when the design tries to be overly science-y and cutting edge. There are far too many elements suddenly at play that diverge from the simplicity and visual language of the logo. There is the gloomy-looking close-ups of cancer cells, there is some heavily-gradiented bands of color, there is a sci-fi-light typeface (Geogrotesque), and there is big statements. On their own some of them are okay but together and in contrast to what the logo achieved it feels a little forced and heavy-handed. There is a softer and more integrated alphabet hinted at here (and in the guidelines image above) but it doesn’t seem to be playing a big role in the identity, yet there is something more cohesive about that visual language. Nonetheless, a really great logo that boldly represents this important organization.