Icosavax—a biopharmaceutical company using an innovative virus-like particle (VLP) platform technology to develop vaccines against infectious diseases—needed to communicate its unique value proposition to potential investors, to distill its complex technology to public audiences and to recruit talented employees. As a new company, it needed a logo, visual branding & identity, design system and website to reach these goals.
HIGH LEVEL SOLUTION & RESULTS
Create a patient-focused brand, identity & design system and website to communicate the company's cutting edge technology and its therapeutic applications:
$51M Series A (2019)
$100M Series B (2021)
$182M IPO (July 2021)
Icosavax was in a unique position as an academic spinout from the University of Washington's Medical School, which meant the technology itself was further along than one might expect from a newly-formed company. Despite its scientific pipeline being fairly robust, the company itself did not yet have any commercial branding (such as logo, design system or website).
During an early onsite with the CEO, a key theme emerged of the need for a personable, patient-focused visual language to balance the technical, highly-computational nature of the technology.
How Might We develop a personable, patient-focused brand identity and website for a biotech company that manufactures computationally designed proteins to target complex viruses.?
How Might We communicate the therapeutic applications of the virus-like particle technology to scientific and public audiences?
planning & ux design
For the site map and information architecture, I outlined what my strategic partner and I have discovered to be a tried-and-true solution for a pre-IPO biotech startup website. The pages included—Home, About, Team, Technology, Pipeline, Careers, News, Contact—give an overview of the company's mission and team, distill its scientific platform, outline the therapeutic pipeline and progress, provide a platform for news updates, allow for employee recruitment and provide contact information. While every project and problem statement is unique, I also believe there's a real world value to learning from and incorporating past solutions in order to meet client goals on budget and within scope.
A low fidelity mockup of the homepage.
Visual branding & ui
For the visual language and ui, I created a warm, personable brand to bring a human-focused balance to the high-tech, computational nature of the company's platform.
We wanted to reference the high-powered technology in the logo's design, but in a softer way. So we created a stylized representation of their proprietary nanoparticle that felt appropriate for a company in the therapeutic space.
- notes from the project
During the logo design process, I dialed in the specific shapes of
A) the soccer-ball-like inner core and B) the surrounding antigens of the nanoparticle used in the technology.
I played with a spectrum of abstract to realistic for both elements. Then I based alignment and typography decisions around the finalized icon.
I centered the color system around warm accents of coral and violet, paired with shades of dusky blue neutrals.
The style guide for the company's visual language outlined typography choices, natural light photo treatment and a split complementary color palette.
The soft visual style carried through to imagery—with large images around the themes of joyful interactions between family and friends, technology in the lab, and A nod to the company's Seattle home.
conclusions & reflections
In less than 10 weeks, we created a full brand with logo and visual language; and shipped a startup website that led to two rounds—Series A ($51M) and Series B ($100M)—of funding, met the company's communication goals and aided as a recruitment tool. The scope was primarily focused on the branding and visual design while also providing an example of an early stage biotech site.