May 22, 2013 | Amanda Kolson Hurley

Welcome to our website. If you've been here before, notice anything different this time? (Hint: Check the top left corner.)

IMT rolled out a new logo this week, after months of internal discussion and back-and-forth with the talented Jessie Despard of Despard Design. What we gained is a crisp, modern logo that suggests our mission to transform the built environment.

(The color of the logo has been adjusted slightly on the website, to match the existing palette.)

We are replacing a logo that many of our supporters would recognize instantly, a swoosh with three dots which grow bigger from bottom left to upper right. It is, in some respects, an effective logo mark. It's unique; it's simple; it reproduces well at a small size and in black and white.

But as a visual cue to our mission, it left a lot to be desired. The three dots, swooshing up from small to large, were supposed to convey the gathering force of market transformation–the snowball effect that happens for energy efficiency when market barriers are removed.

That's not what people saw. They saw science: molecules, atoms, chemistry. "Are those atoms?" was a question some of us got when we handed out business cards.

If IMT's name were "The Energy-Efficient Buildings Project," having this logo would not be a big problem. We could let our name do the explaining. As it is, our name refers to an abstract concept, so the logo mark (i.e. the picture) needs to communicate a lot.

We wanted either buildings or energy to be represented in our new logo. At the same time, we didn't want it to be too literal or specific. A skyline or skyscraper might suggest that we focus only on large office buildings (false). A solar panel could give the impression that we work on renewable energy; we support renewable energy, but it's not our area of expertise.

Jessie found the solution by experimenting with the I, M, and T letterforms. She folded the M down the middle, creating angled wall planes, and worked the negative spaces into openings. That gave the walls doors. But the "building" was intentionally left unfinished. The extended mid-blue and dark blue planes suggest that construction is still under way–fitting for the ongoing process of real estate market transformation.

"I now feel that I am working on issues related to the built environment versus splitting atoms," one colleague joked. If the rebranding accomplished only that, I'd say it was worth it.



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Amanda Kolson Hurley

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