Researchers In Schools by Paul Belford Ltd., United Kingdom

Opinion by Richard Baird.

Monogram for Researchers In Schools by graphic design studio Paul Belford Ltd., UK

Researchers In Schools recruits and trains post-doctoral science researchers in the United Kingdom to become teachers with the intention of increasing subject expertise, promoting fields of research and improving university access. Researchers In Schools recently worked with London based graphic design studio Paul Belford Ltd. to develop a new brand identity system and visual language. This went on to include logo design and brand guidelines, business cards, illustration and tote bags.

Brand guidelines for Researchers In Schools by UK based graphic design studio Paul Belford Ltd.

Paul Belford describe the organisation’s remit as literally putting researchers ‘into’ schools. This originally played out as an incredibly awkward and poorly resolved monogram, but is now conveyed using a simple mathematical expression. Although significantly more restrained, it is a huge improvement, particularly within the context of research and academia, with an element of play and sophistication drawn from the simple forms and structure of Futura.

Brand guidelines for Researchers In Schools by UK based graphic design studio Paul Belford Ltd.

The brand guidelines are playful in their appropriation of the vernacular and visual language of academic examination, and function, at least internally, as fine expression of the organisation’s intention, touching upon the rigour of research and examination in its format and general sense of utility, but also the human consideration in the use of handwriting.

This is a particularly neat, surprising and accessible way of dealing with the correct and incorrect ways of implementing identity, sensitive to those who may not be designers, however, there is perhaps a tension between initial delight and the need to reference something quickly with as little friction as possible.

Brand guidelines for Researchers In Schools by UK based graphic design studio Paul Belford Ltd.

As an outward expression, the ideas that work there way through the brand guidelines come through in the juxtaposition of an economic palette of black ink, white paper and the reductive nature of the logo alongside the warmer and more accessible qualities of red, green and blue inks, and the use of illustration across business cards.

The hands up motif is a simple but powerful image, one of diversity, individuality, enthusiasm, and a respectful connection between teacher and pupil. Although the logo is intelligent and the guidelines practical and accessible, illustration adds a much needed emotive detail.

Brand guidelines for Researchers In Schools by UK based graphic design studio Paul Belford Ltd.

It is a simple, small-scale project with few assets that currently have yet to be extended online or really infuse the organisation’s communications with any real character, however, while there is a overall sense of restraint, there is enough detail, rooted in concept and communicative agenda, to keep it interesting.

Each individual asset is precise in its intention and together make a good connection between research and eduction, organic learning and structured examination. These acknowledge the intelligence and the things familiar to those that the organisation looks to engage, whilst also making sure there is a link to the education and individual needs of young people. More from Paul Belford Ltd. on BP&O.

Design: Paul Belford Ltd. Opinion: Richard Baird. Fonts Used: Futura.

Brand guidelines for Researchers In Schools by UK based graphic design studio Paul Belford Ltd.

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Brand identity and illustration for Researchers In Schools by Paul Belford Ltd.

Brand identity, illustration and business cards for Researchers In Schools by Paul Belford Ltd.

Branding for Researchers In Schools by Paul Belford Ltd.

What do you think of Paul Belford’s brand identity for Researchers In Schools? Share your thoughts in the comment section below or get the conversation started on Twitter.

Brand identity and branded tote bag for Researchers In Schools by Paul Belford Ltd.

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  • Adam Gallacher

    lovely guides, didn’t get the idea logo idea at first glance, but its very simple, whole thing is nice and light with touch of heart

  • Ditto. Would like to have seen more mathematic-inspired visual language throughout the system to help reinforce the logo.

  • Kelly Na

    I adore this for the brand guidelines alone. One of my favorite.

  • I think the logo is absolutely brilliant, as is the guidelines. I have never seen a guidelines document so interesting and conceptually driven as this.

    I also think the minimalism and extreme use of restraint works well. It feels very scientific, very academic.

    However, while I *do* like the raised hand illustration, it looks completely out of place and aesthetically random within the context of the stark visual language that’s depicted — almost as if it’s a graphic from an entirely different concept, giving it the feeling of a Frankenstein client request. Adding it to the backs of the cards cheapens the system, and comes across as an inability to fully commit to the intentionally sparse visual landscape. In my opinion, those cards would be infinitely better with just floods of color on the back.

    A more conceptually effective brand toolkit would be visuals based on the grid system and design of test forms — a look which seems to have been started on the cover of the guidelines document. I also feel like the creative momentem gained in the guidelines works well as a truly ownable brand voice, and I would love to see it continued and better infused into the assets. I could almost see the backs of the cards asking a “test question” like, “Who is the Communications Director of Researchers in Schools,” and the back of the card (as shown above) would be “the answer.”

    All in all, I think this is the start of a majorly brilliant concept that needs a little more massaging, chutzpah, and commitment to be fully actualized.

  • Very clever idea for the brand guidelines.