Responses by Daniel Irizarry, creative director, Athletics.
Background: To create a new identity for IBM TechXchange, a conference and technical learning event for technologists using IBM products and solutions, we needed to keep technology at the core of the system and have it be able to stretch across all aspects of the program and conference—in environmental design, wayfinding, digital and on-screen, and in physical communication materials. The conference’s primary audience is technologists currently familiar with IBM’s products and new technologists as well, the goal being to create an authentic, no-frills space for people to talk about their craft.
Design thinking: We created a grid system inspired by the conference as a space where diverse minds from different technical backgrounds meet and come together to interact with one another. Each element within the IBM TechXchange grid system has its own symbolic meaning, and the grid serves as a framework in which new and evolved elements can be layered in from year to year and from event to event. The system’s design language is purpose built to function in an interactive, programmatic fashion.
Challenges: The only key challenge we faced was ensuring the system was complete and comprehensive ahead of the IBM TechXchange event so that all the conference’s marketing material could be created to both promote and exist at the event.
Visual influences: IBM has such a rich visual history, from Paul Rand to the Eames and its own robust IBM Design Language as well, so there was a lot to draw directly from. We immediately thought of the IBM Rebus, which is timeless and always feels instantly IBM. The IBM Design Language has a robust color palette, so we chose a subset of colors that could represent the diversity of thought and representation that would be present at the event.
Time constraints: Time constraints can sometimes be a perfect forcing function to get solutions quicker and not second guess your work. IBM was also working on creating assets, so there were a lot of opportunities to quickly test the work in real-world use cases to make sure it was doing the job it needed to do.
Specific project demands: One aspect of this project that made it a bit harder was creating an identity that didn’t feel like a piece of marketing and felt authentic to technologists. So, we worked as a collaborative team of designers and creative technologists to come to a solution that represented the conference’s spirit and a process that emulated the experience, leading to a no-frills solution that is direct while creative.