BPO


OpenView by Pentagram, United States

Opinion by Richard Baird.

Branding, custom typography and edge painted business cards by Pentagram for Boston-based venture capital firm OpenView.

OpenView is a Boston-based business dedicated to investing in and helping to grow what are described as expansion-stage companies that are working in the software development sector. OpenView has a unique hands-on approach, and worked with Pentagram’s Natasha Jen to express this through positioning, tone of voice and visual identity design. This included custom typography, stationery, business cards, website and interior graphics.

Brand identity and animated wordmark by Pentagram for Boston-based venture capital firm OpenView.

OpenView not only provide investment but are hands-on, acting as mentors to help with customer and talent acquisition and growth. This is reflected throughout identity in the meeting of the industrial and utilitarian nature of type, its custom drawing, and a cheerful and personable colour palette.

Positioning by Pentagram for Boston-based venture capital firm OpenView.

Pentagram leverage some familiar associations, and lays down a clear and fairly universal visual language, but manages to work in some pleasant and more customised details.

OpenView Stencil, a monolinear sans-serif, benefits from a few different cuts through letterforms, tying it to “Openview’s pragmatic spirit, vitality and no-nonsense attitude with a utilitarian quality rooted in its methodology”. Diagonal, horizontal and vertical breaks through letters provide variety and a touch of motion to common geometric forms. Details are nuanced but intention is clear, with some nice shapes and cuts in a couple of the symbols as well.

Custom typography by Pentagram for Boston-based venture capital firm OpenView.

Although it is difficult to avoid the ubiquity and often misappropriation of stencilling, its associations and communicative value remain fairly well intact. Within the context of over-polished, graphically conservative identities used by VC branding to convey ideas of tech and finance, it is likely to stand out, particularly in its oversized implementation in print. It is tempting to cite stylistically more distinctive stencilled typefaces, but it is worth bearing in mind industry, and the need for continuity between other weights without cuts.

Custom typography by Pentagram for Boston-based venture capital firm OpenView.

Custom typography by Pentagram for Boston-based venture capital firm OpenView.

Monogram by Pentagram for Boston-based venture capital firm OpenView.

“Language inspired by the expansion process has been leveraged to clearly convey the firm’s relationship with their portfolio companies and audiences. The designers developed brand architecture that uses action verbs to name the company’s various groups and brand channels: OpenView Invest for the investment team, OpenView Grow for the expansion team, and OpenView Learn for thought leadership platforms.” – Pentagram

Custom typography and wordmark by Pentagram for Boston-based venture capital firm OpenView.

Colour palette by Pentagram for Boston-based venture capital firm OpenView.

Like type, colour plays with some familiar associations, drawing on tech and industry, yet manages to draw something distinctive from these in their full-page coverage in print and in the edge painting of business cards. Online this is appropriately dialled down, calling out navigation and further insight, while wordmark, headings and body secure continuity.

Brand identity and iconography by Pentagram for Boston-based venture capital firm OpenView.

It is good to see iconography side step the monolinear. Although this would form a very literal connection with type, it would be at the expense of visual interest, differentiation and effective communication, and fall into what is becoming something of a tired tech trope. There is, however, a geometry to these that do link them to type, and the approach to people is unusual.

Brand identity and print by Pentagram for Boston-based venture capital firm OpenView.

Custom typography and business cards by Pentagram for Boston-based venture capital firm OpenView.

In application, visual identity plays with proportion. Wordmark and monogram stand up well large, with the other uncut weights functioning well at smaller sizes. Colour has been reproduced well, although there is always the propensity for ink to wear around the edges when set over white board, and the contrast of the white OV knocked out of colour is impactful, and gets a bit more character out of some utilitarian forms. Uncoated boards and embossing appear as small material touches that avoid undermining the utility of type and in service of the more personal

Custom typography, wordmark and postcards by Pentagram for Boston-based venture capital firm OpenView.

Although strategy and its visual expression is straightforward, the tension between bright colour and the utility of type establishes something interesting, particularly within the VC and tech sector. It is reassuring in the familiarity and communicative clarity of assets, and the continuity of type, but distinctive in the way these have been implemented and adapt to print and digital environments. Make sure you check out Pentagram’s project page to see how identity exists within OpenView’s office space. More from Pentagram on BP&O.

Design: Pentagram. Partner in Charge: Natasha Jen. Designers: Janghyun Han & Jenny Hung. Opinion: Richard Baird.

Custom typography, wordmark and folder by Pentagram for Boston-based venture capital firm OpenView.

Custom typography, wordmark and folder by Pentagram for Boston-based venture capital firm OpenView.

Brand identity and branded notebook and mug by Pentagram for Boston-based venture capital firm OpenView.

Brand identity and branded t-shirt by Pentagram for Boston-based venture capital firm OpenView.

Logo and signage by Pentagram for Boston-based venture capital firm OpenView.

What do you think of Pentagram’s brand identity for OpenView? Share your thoughts in the comment section below or get the conversation started on Twitter.

Custom typography, wordmark and postcards by Pentagram for Boston-based venture capital firm OpenView.

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  • Scott Farkus

    The only reason this is getting any recognition is because Pentagram did it. This is uninspiring and not even executed with much refinement. Mediocre at best.

    • Hi Scott. Work is selected on a by-project basis. There’s plenty from Pentagram not featured on the site.

  • Ollie

    Openview Sans looks an AWFUL lot like Futura to me.

  • Dean Harrison

    For me I don’t think the all of the colours work, particularly the lighter colours on the white board (I think that’s what it is) as it looks as though you can see the weave of it. Makes it look a little unfinished really and it detracts from the clean lines of the type. If it was on a solid flat colour, much like how the darker blue and orange look. Then again it could just be the photos that are making it look worse than it actually is.

  • tmgtheperson

    Mmm. Not entirely convinced about this. It’s beautifully executed, as one would expect from Pentagram. But it’s a little lifeless, considering that they’re helping tech companies expand and grow—something that could’ve been brought to life a bit more. It’s a frantic, exciting and terrifying time for those companies, and this doesn’t go out of it’s way to look like the calm, measured business partner that will make sure everything’s going to be okay; or the business partner that’s just as invested, eager and excited to get going as the company they’re helping. Their positioning includes human and personable traits, which are largely missing from the brand (and there aren’t any copywriting examples to see if those are reflected there). I find the icons are frustratingly incoherent and heavy-handed. I would’ve liked to see proper illustrations here, instead of an icon style that’s more suited to way finding.

  • Anthony

    I dig the way the system stands out in the sector, but the ‘OV’ monogram seems a little contrived/lackluster, and does little for the overall identity. I’d much prefer to see the full name used throughout the system alongside a symbol.

  • Dom

    Natasha Jen seems to have a faible for this kind of typographical approach.

    Wasn’t she/her team the one who did the following work here as well?
    http://bpando.org/2015/12/08/package-design-teabox/