University of Wisconsin–Madison

Case Study

Fostering Random Collisions


Wisconsin Institute for Discovery

The Challenge

To brand and introduce an uncommon, transdisciplinary research institute to campus, the state and beyond.


WID is not your average research institute. Its mission is holistic—to study the information that supports life, from cells to societies. The director gave us these descriptors: supper clubs, leather, wood grain, and scrap-metal artist Tom Evermore. An additional charge was to highlight where the accidental collisions of science and the humanities intersected. Exciting, but new territory. In addition to reflecting WID’s atypical scientific approach, another communication goal was to set WID apart from the Morgridge Institute, the other ‘twin’ in the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

Branding and Visual Identity

To help brand the institute, we decided to create a unique wordmark that could be used across media. In addition to the website, the flexible wordmark is also used on letterhead, newsletters, business cards, notepads and stickers.

Website Strategy

We decided that the WID website would be the branding centerpiece, and it is anything but stodgy. Visually clean and inviting, visitors are tantalized to explore compelling content: feature stories, events and research innovations. The site captures the director’s vision of WID’s research, design, and community focus, and highlights the amazing science and people of WID.

Phase 2 of the website worked to refine and improve the user experience by examining analytics. A refreshed design was incorporated for the Events and Stories sections, focusing on content that users were regularly visiting.


Offline communication consists of a print newsletter sent twice yearly, in the spring and the fall, with seasonal changes reelected in the color palette. The design carries through to personal communication on business cards, notepads, and letterhead.