2023 Brand Review: Science and Technology

As we say goodbye to 2023, it's time to reflect on what has been a volatile year. It has been a year of challenges for early-stage science and technology companies but also one of opportunity to react and evolve at speed to meet the changing nature of the consumer and investor landscape.

In this end-of-the-year post, we delve into the branding trends that have defined the industry's landscape. From groundbreaking innovations to shifts in audience preferences, 2023 has been a year of significant transformation. 

As an agency working with companies often at the start of their journey, we've witnessed firsthand how branding and communication strategies have adapted to creating new paradigms in engaging and resonating with audiences. Read on to discover the developments we see as shaping the narratives for an exciting 2024.

Embrace complexity

Working with brands with highly technical products has typically required us to find easy-to-convey ideas in simple, understandable ways but this year we’ve seen brands embrace their complexity as a way to differentiate but also remain true to what they do and the types of customers and investors they are looking to attract.

This was reflected in value-driven messaging and communication efforts that many successful science- and technology-forward companies embraced in 2023. 

Value-driven messaging translates product benefits or functionality into value for the audience, for example: “what does the product do to improve the customer's life or experience?”. 

Phycoworks - one of our clients - brought this to life with an approach that doesn't shy away from the deeply complex technology and utilization of AI that makes them unique in uniting biology and technology. Linking clearly explained complex ideas to simple solutions with real-world changing value helps audiences, both customers and investors comprehend the vast potential.

An example of the Phycoworks visual identity that represents the complex relationship between biology and technology

It is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out in the science and technology sectors when innovation is evolving so rapidly. As such, being clear about what makes a brand different is critical. StackBlitz, which has seen significant growth in 2023, brings a fresh take to a complex world by connecting to a clear audience need and insight. By providing new tools for web development they help developers find the lost joy in the work they do.

The StackBlitz website, which bring a new approach and new look to the science and technology sectors

For 2024, we expect to see a balanced approach to push complexity when it makes sense to and to simplify in other areas. The trick here will be taking a more nuanced approach to speaking in different ways to different audiences. Value-driven communication is going to be even more critical as companies enter another year of economic volatility, particularly in an investment space that is more cautious and measured in terms of the types of technologies and companies they are investing in.

Strengthen visual presence

With complex and value-driven communication strategies, we see an even bigger reason for brand strategy to inform brand design and visual identities. With that comes the need for early stage tech companies to understand the value, and importance of using the brand's strategy and verbal identity to influence and steer the visual identity. 

Ensuring these two parts of the branding process are working in unison provides cohesion and consistency, and ultimately allows customers to understand a brand's communication more easily.

In addition to that, complex products require a special approach to visual communication. Oftentimes visualizing these products and concepts literally would confuse and alienate a lot of viewers—including potential investors. It's important to translate these concepts and systems in simple, creative ways, so they're not only easily digestible but also feel consistent with the brand's visual language.

As such, BioLoomics’ use of a grid of circles and lines to represent their goal of discovering ‘outlier’ cells has ensured a visual language that stands out in the sector but also, and more importantly, directly links to their business offering and technology.

An example of how the Bioloomics brand represents the company's mission and vision through visual language

Or another great example - Eigen’s use of both standard animation and on-scroll animation to visually convey what they do and how they do it, in a simplified and engaging way.

In 2024, we see more companies employ the use of visuals and graphics to help translate complex technologies and concepts without dumbing them down. With that, comes focus on custom infographics and data visualization as the best tools to approach this challenge.

Bet on authenticity

Authentic brands made an impact across industries this year and will continue to do so in the future.

Whether it be through using unique verbal or visual themes under-represented in the industry, an illustration style that provides differentiation, or interactivity and animation in the visual elements, more enterprise brands are starting to see the benefit of standing on their own and providing visual and verbal excitement within their category.

Candidly, a B2B2C solution for the management of student debt is built on the premise of helping students find financial wellness. An authentic understanding of what can be a highly emotional topic helps shape their visual and verbal execution to create a brand that consistently delivers innovative solutions through compassion across every touchpoint.

An example of the innovative Candidly brand

Additionally, Buffer - a social media management solution - is known for its dedication to transparency both internally and externally. This starts with the values and continues throughout every part of their company culture, product, and communication with customers.

An example of how the Buffer brand reflects its dedication to transparency through its visual identity

Be guided by purpose

Across all the sectors we work with, we try to elevate what startups bring to the world. By working on visions and missions we help illustrate the potential of complex technologies and what they can do not just to improve the experiences of their audience but the macro impact of what they do. This year has been no different with brands wanting to set clear foundations that speak to the scale of their potential.

With that, sustainability and ethical considerations are integral to most brand strategies. Consumers are increasingly conscious of a brand's environmental impact, ethical sourcing, and commitment to social responsibility. Brands that prioritize sustainability are likely to gain a competitive edge.

For 2024 we may see more targeted approaches to what greater value the startups can offer. Whether it’s climate, social, or political, today's issues are inescapable and while not every company can make a tangible difference, we may see greater acknowledgment or to a degree activism in brands being clear about their role and what they can do to solve the challenges the world faces. 

This is particularly evident in underserved categories. Ameelio builds communication technologies for a more rehabilitative corrections system. Where the connection between family members and inmates is critical for rehabilitation, leading with a clear purpose of how the brand facilitates that connection and why has been instrumental in the brand's success. 

An example of the Ameelio brand and how the identity showcases its purpose

On the flip side, Rocket Companies, a provider of Rocket Loans, Rocket Mortgages, etc leads with purpose but for a much wider audience. By creating certainty in life's most complex moments, the brand speaks to a more individualistic but no less important purpose to help people feel more secure and in control.

Embrace humanity

Introducing a human touch in the brand's verbal and visual language helps connect with the end-users at a personal level, an important leverage even within technical and enterprise industries.

In 2023, we have seen those easter eggs being introduced in many communication channels and assets, and as the need for a human-to-human connection in the workplace grows, so will the need to create brands that are humane and approachable.

Across the board, user-centric design approaches have been driving the progress: either applied to the product interfaces or extended to the overall brand experience. They ensure the brand resonates with empathy and prioritizes the preferences of its end-users throughout their entire experience.

Additionally, in the past year, we have noticed the use of a brand mascot to add playfulness, provide further differentiation, and bring about a feeling of warmth and humanization. Mascots work well when used in marketing and comms but really come to life as part of the user experience in apps.

In social communications, influencer marketing and user-generated content continue to play a significant role across enterprise marketing strategies. Brands collaborate with influencers to reach specific audiences, and user-generated content is harnessed for authenticity, fostering community engagement.

A note on Artificial Intelligence

Naturally, AI gets a mention but what we’ve noticed with some of the companies we’ve worked with and more broadly in the industry - particularly biotech - is that the use of AI as a product or feature is being more and more positioned as one element of a wider solution.

Companies are finding their confidence in terms of where AI sits as part of their product story. The hype is reducing to the point that it only gets a brief mention for some of our clients as part of a much more unique and differentiating solution.

When it comes to visuals, AI has been on the rise and will continue in the future. We mostly see it used to generate personalized imagery, assist in applying design styles, or to optimize layouts and compositions.

For 2024, AI will still be hyped in verbal and visual communications and it will continue to evolve as a leverage to the solution, rather than a centerpiece for most of our clients and their brands.

In conclusion

This year has taught us the value of embracing complexity, the power of value-driven messaging, and the importance of authentic and purpose-driven branding. We've seen how visual presence and humanity can create deeper connections with audiences. 

The challenges and opportunities for early-stage companies in the science and technology sectors remain immense. The evolving economic climate and investment landscape will require brands to be even more strategic and nuanced in their communication approaches.

As we enter 2024, the need for brands to be clear, compelling, and connected with their audiences has never been greater. It’s a challenge we’re ready for and we look forward to a new year full of potential and continued partnership with companies at the forefront of innovation and human impact.


How do vision and mission statements impact a company's long-term direction?

Effective vision and mission statements should ideally constitute important tools in formulating a company’s strategy. They should largely remain unchanged through the years, though a significant pivot may bring about new vision and mission statements. Together, they work to define the focus of the business and how it impacts the world. 

The vision statement is a representation of your company’s view of a better world. The mission statement reflects how it sets about to achieve this vision. They work together to create internal alignment and help with strategic decision making. When planning for the future, developing new products, or experimenting with new strategies, teams can perform a quick check against the vision and mission statements to ensure that these initiatives are aligned with the essence of the brand. 

In short, the vision and mission statements are powerful tools which can and should impact decisions across the organizations, making them important factors in a company’s long-term direction.

How does brand strategy influence the overall success of a business?

Your brand strategy reflects how your brand sees the world and its role within it. It is the framework that, ideally, should guide all your communications (both external and internal) and audience touchpoints, i.e. each interaction an audience member has with your business. 

Having standardized communication across all channels and touchpoints makes business processes smoother and positively influences your client relationships, ensuring you develop strong, long-term connections with your customers. It also simplifies strategic decision-making and aligns your team. All these factors are vital to the success of a business.

How do messaging frameworks help communicate your brand message effectively?

Messaging frameworks are structured guides that outline the core messages, value propositions, and differentiators of a brand. They ensure consistency across all communications, from marketing materials and social media posts to customer service interactions. By defining key messages that resonate with the brand's target audiences, messaging frameworks help ensure that a brand’s communications are clear and memorable. 

They also help organizations stay aligned internally and ensure that each member, regardless of their role, understands what the brand’s key message is and how to communicate it effectively. This internal alignment is crucial for presenting a unified brand image to the outside world.

What specific elements contribute to a brand's verbal identity?

A brand’s verbal identity should align your team on how your brand communicates and how this communication changes depending on the situation. It defines a specific and recognizable language through which your brand can deliver its message to your audience or audiences.

Typically, a verbal identity includes some, or all, of the following elements:

Brand personality: This captures the human traits or characteristics that your brand embodies, such as being adventurous, sophisticated, or reliable, which help shape how your brand is perceived.

Brand voice: The brand voice reflects how your brand reflects its personality across all communication channels.

Brand tone: While the brand voice remains consistent, the brand tone can change depending on the context of the message and the audience being addressed, ranging from formal and professional to informal and friendly.

Messaging frameworks: These are strategic tools that outline the key messages your brand intends to communicate to its different target audiences, ensuring that all messaging is aligned with your brand's mission, vision, and value propositions.

Messaging examples: These provide specific examples of how your brand's messaging might be applied in various scenarios.

Style and grammar guidelines: These outline your preferred spelling, grammar, and style, ensuring that your communication is consistent across the board. 

What are some key considerations when developing a tone of voice for a brand?

The first and most important consideration is the brand’s personality. While businesses are functional, they still communicate with people – and people primarily connect with stories and personas. Your brand’s personality will define a set of human characteristics which reflect how it sees itself in the world. By giving your brand these human attributes, you are making it both distinctive and easier to identify with. The tone of voice should reflect your brand’s personality.

It’s also important to consider your target market and your audience’s expectations. While having a distinctive tone of voice is important for memorability, there is such a thing as being too different. If all brands in your segment adopt a serious, professional tone, and you would like to be fun and playful, there is certainly space for that, but consider very carefully why you are doing it.


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How do brand guidelines ensure consistency in visual identity across different platforms?

Brand guidelines are a key tool for maintaining a consistent visual presentation across various platforms. These guidelines typically outline the main use cases where the brand's visual identity will appear and provide comprehensive rules and standards.

The guidelines include detailed instructions on how to use the brand’s assets, such as logos, color palettes, typography, and imagery. This ensures that anyone using these assets, whether they're designers, marketers, or external partners, can apply them correctly and consistently. 

It’s crucial that the entire team is familiar with these guidelines. It’s important to get team buy-in on the visual identity and ensure that the guidelines are easily accessible. When the whole team understands and follows the guidelines, the brand's visual identity remains unified across all touchpoints, enhancing brand recognition and trust.

How does visual identity differ across industries, and how can a brand ensure it stands out while remaining authentic?

Visual identity varies significantly across industries, shaped by both the industry norms and the unique aspects of each brand. Understanding where your brand stands in the competitive market is essential when crafting a visual identity that both stands out and remains authentic.

Industries have distinct visual trends that are often expected by consumers. For instance, financial services brands typically adopt a reserved, traditional look with a color palette dominated by blues and greys. In contrast, skincare brands often go for a lighter, more colorful approach with pastels. Being aware of these industry-specific trends is important because it helps to decide how much your brand should differentiate itself from these norms. This differentiation should be based on your audience's expectations and your brand's unique value propositions.

For example, a financial services brand that emphasizes its use of innovative technologies might choose a more digital-oriented visual language. Similarly, a skincare brand that focuses on scientific innovation might benefit from a more science-based visual language.

How does competitive benchmarking influence the development of a visual identity?

Competitive benchmarking is important in developing a brand's visual identity as it provides insights into the market environment. By examining the competition, a brand can better understand its unique value proposition and strengths. This understanding is crucial in identifying what sets the brand apart from others.

With this knowledge, a brand can lean into its unique strengths when crafting its visual language. This approach ensures that the visual identity not only looks appealing but also reinforces the brand’s distinct point of view and competitive edge.

What are the key considerations when creating visual concepts for a brand?

The visual identity of a brand should quickly and clearly reflect its strategic positioning. Designers begin the process of creating visual concepts by immersing themselves in the brand’s strategy to extract key narrative themes. These themes are then translated into a visual language that employs both emotional and aesthetic elements to communicate the brand's messages. This translation is crucial as it shapes how the audience perceives and interacts with the brand.

When developing visual concepts, it's important to make sure they align with the brand's strategy and fit well within the competitive landscape: demonstrating key differentiators, but still fitting into the industry at large. The visuals should also be suitable for the mediums they will be used in. Whether for digital, print, or physical applications, the choice of medium can greatly influence how the visual concepts are designed.

How does visual identity contribute to brand recognition and trustworthiness?

Visual identity is key to boosting brand recognition and trustworthiness, especially in busy markets. When a company maintains a consistent visual brand across different platforms, it becomes easier for customers to recognize and remember it. This consistency is crucial for standing out among competitors.

Having a consistent visual identity also shows professionalism and attention to detail. These qualities make customers more likely to trust a brand. When a brand looks the same across all touchpoints, from websites to products and ads, it tells customers the brand is reliable and serious. This builds trust and makes customers more likely to pick this brand over others that may not look as professional or consistent.


What are the advantages of having a well-designed and user-friendly website for a business?

The business landscape has changed dramatically since the pandemic. Now, your digital footprint is definitely at the center of most business growth strategies. A well-designed website allows companies to connect with users in an effective manner, ensure customer loyalty, and expand business - among other benefits.

Website design is the key ingredient to digital success, alongside well-functioning SEO tools, connected backend, and user-friendly strategy. A user-friendly website for your business will:

  • Increase user engagement and conversion rates
  • Improve SEO and searchability of your business
  • Improve retention rates
  • Make your business more credible while making your brand more memorable
How does the design of a website impact its accessibility to users, including those with disabilities?

In website design, "accessibility" refers to whether a site is designed in a way that is inclusive and usable by everyone, regardless of their physical or cognitive abilities. 

This may include important site characteristics such as text-to-speech functionality, video captions, alternative text tags for images, enhanced with good design practices of intuitive navigation, straightforward copy. and others. Accessibility is integral to website performance and user experience.

How can businesses ensure consistency and credibility across their website, brand, and marketing materials?

To achieve consistency and credibility across all your collateral, you need to ensure that the brand message - both verbal and visual - is compliant with your brand guidelines. This can include:

  • Using the correct tone of voice principles across all communication channels to differentiate your brand personality

  • Communicating consistent messaging and key differentiators on all platforms

  • Ensuring that key visual elements (logo, color palette, typography, imagery) on your website, marketing, and sales materials are aligned with each other

What are some common pitfalls to avoid when designing and developing a business website?

According to a 2024 web statistics report, a staggering 75% of business credibility is attributed to various web design decisions. In order to improve your website’s trustworthiness, avoid the following common design mistakes:

  • Not prioritizing accessibility: One of the biggest design mistakes out there is overlooking web accessibility principles on your website.

  • Not investing in responsive design and customization: With the majority of global traffic coming from mobile and tablet devices, lack of responsive design and customization can break a business.
  • Prioritizing aesthetics over function: Compromising user experience in favor of flashy aesthetics will dilute your brand message and user journey to the required call to action.

  • Lacking clarity in messaging and navigation: Clear navigation and messaging will reduce the friction users may experience when landing on your site as they are trying to get a clear picture of what your business is.
How does website copywriting contribute to user engagement and conversion, and what role does SEO play in this?

The goal of web copywriting is to guide your users through their web journey while providing information, engaging with and converting them into buyers. Each section of your site shapes the visitor perception about your brand and affects their buying decisions. 

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a practice of creating engaging and persuasive content that not only appeals to your users, but also incorporates relevant keywords and techniques to attract organic traffic to your site.

To start writing SEO-friendly copy for your site, you can:

  • Manually conduct keyword research by checking what competitors are ranking for
  • Use SEO software like SEMRush to investigate new keyword opportunities
  • Make sure to review keywords frequently as their popularity changes often and you want to keep ranking for competitive terms.

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