VSA Partners is thrilled to announce we received a Silver award and five honorable mentions in the 2023 Graphis Design Awards program.
Our work performed for Spacial, a prefab manufacturing company of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), received Silver, and our work for Udemy, FuelCell Energy, Curia, Affirm B2B and Chicago Council on Global Affairs all received honorable mentions.
VSA is honored to have received these accolades from the 2023 Graphis Design Awards program, and deeply grateful to the incredible team members who made it happen.
Read on below for a little more about each of the projects!
Spacial: Silver Award
When Innovatus Capital Partners came to VSA, it was interested in launching an ADU business because of their sustainability and their viability as an affordable housing solution. So VSA got to work building the strategy, identity, expression, and application.
VSA launched a positioning strategy that owned the territory of “Space with Soul,” which connected with a desire in consumers to extend their home without losing the design details that make a space feel human.
For the new name, VSA landed on the the elegant, light-filled concept of “Spacial,” which nods to the efficient use of square footage, the natural light available, and possibilities this additional space unlocks.
We created a typographic logo for Spacial that is approachable and straightforward, just like Spacial’s approach to housing. A color bar brings together Spacial’s new palette to represent how Spacial is used to add vibrancy to life.
In addition to the brand identity work, we also created a digital presence for Spacial. Our platform work included a responsive website, social media marketing and a Salesforce-enabled lead-capture engine built to launch the brand online and drive awareness and customer engagement. In less than six months, VSA delivered over 1,000 qualified leads.
Udemy: Honorable Mention
Udemy is the world’s largest online learning platform. But the brand was suffering from a transactional perception and had faded into the broad landscape of online education. VSA Partners was selected to aid Udemy in a transformation, including strategy, identity, expression and digital platform design.
We landed on the positioning of Udemy as empowerment. The direction seeks to elevate the many voices of Udemy to convey a community-led redefining of what education can be.
Our work included a logo redesign where we embodied the idea of upward movement and breaking boundaries. We also worked with Udemy to identify purple as its primary color. Purple is the color of imagination and speaks to Udemy’s promise to inspire new possibilities and encourage growth. We selected the optimal display font for Udemy’s brand expression as Suisse Works, which gives an editorial quality that communicates trust and expertise.
This complete system of storytelling equipped Udemy to transform its digital presence and ed-tech profile, and strengthened its ability to attract learners and instructors alike. Two years after VSA’s foundational work, Udemy increased its instructor base from 42,000 to 60,000 and grew its online curriculum to 175,000 courses.
FuelCell Energy: Honorable Mention
Although FuelCell Energy had evolved to become a leader in clean energy, its brand identity had fallen behind in effectively communicating its new core mission. VSA Partners joined FuelCell to take its renewed corporate purpose—to enable the world to live empowered by clean energy—and translate this into a communicative brand expression system.
The final brand identity is full of symbolism. The design’s use of gradients signals the journey its customers take toward achieving carbon zero. The reductive footprint of the border design system reinforces how frictionless the adoption of clean energy can be. FuelCell was also equipped with a color scheme associated with lower ink toxicity that, ironically, hues like green can have. The typeface ABC Diatype was selected because of its clean yet warm appearance and its ability to reinforce the overall brand commitment to being minimal and waste-free.
Lastly, the logo is a clever embodiment of the brand’s work and identity. The logo design is inspired by the movement of molecules in fuel cells. The letterforms also incorporate F, C, E and L—the letters that make up FuelCell’s stock ticker symbol. The upper-right segment of the logo also completes the “zero,” which visualizes the company’s mission of achieving zero carbon emissions.
Curia: Honorable Mention
AMRI needed a new brand vision that would match its ambitious business goals, and it chose VSA to rebrand and reinvent its brand identity and expression.
Our assessment found that the contract development and manufacturing (CDMO) industry was meeting table-stakes needs but falling short on customer experience. This led us to create a brand that leans into customer-centricity and values character, in addition to projecting its deep credentials in the life sciences.
In just over six months, the company announced its new name, Curia, and launched its holistic new brand. The name, which connotes intellectual curiosity and means “an assembly of minds,” gave VSA an approachable direction for the design of the brand. Our brand toolkit supports this with human-centric photography, a warm but unconventional color palette for the category, and language that connects Curia’s science and scale to its ultimate purpose: better patient outcomes. Curia’s people, customers and end-patients are front and center in the brand’s expression.
VSA’s partnership with Curia resulted in a strong, forward-focused brand that could communicate all the amazing capabilities of this groundbreaking company. The vibrant, thoughtful brand expression is easily able to adapt across mediums and campaigns, creating a strong foundation for Curia’s ambitious future.
Chicago Council on Global Affairs: Honorable Mention
In advance of its 100th anniversary, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs sought a digital transformation that would boost brand recognition and differentiation. VSA Partners was tasked with defining this digital transformation and positioning the organization to connect with new audiences.
Our work elevated and energized the existing identity in preparation for the Council’s next 100 years, while also adding robust new design guidelines that spoke to the organization’s desire for transformation. In the design elements, we shifted the focus on the organization from regional to global, bringing more global colors and universal elements to the palette and typography.
Our elements also coalesced to emphasize a more human focus. From the typography selected to the use of the “C” as a framing device, we put humans and human issues in the center of our design. We also nodded to the complexity of many of these issues by using a layered approach to storytelling, using shapes and transparency to demonstrate multiple perspectives. Colors were moved to include green for a more global approach, and typefaces were thoughtfully chosen to represent the Council’s brand, reflecting both its history of credibility and its open and promising future.
Affirm B2B: Honorable Mention
While Affirm’s B2B program had great numbers on its side, it lacked a unified point of view. VSA was tasked with moving Affirm from a tactical marketing strategy to instead unify their marketing efforts into a cohesive platform. To do so, we created an identity, messaging, branding, advertising, and a campaign platform that could be used across multiple channels to drive differentiation in the category.
The central campaign platform rallied around the cry to “turn up the volume,” which emphasizes Affirm’s ability to increase conversions, customer love, and sales for businesses. This idea was carried out into the visual identity, key messaging, core assets, and a playbook for external and internal partners to work from. Throughout all the materials, we focused on infusing flexibility into our expression system, both in copy and design. The system itself is simple, but allows for a multitude of combinations and mediums. Every design element was thoughtfully crafted to symbolize growth, which builds a cohesive story while still offering a range of options to the Affirm team. This interchangeability allows for messaging, imagery and even graphics to easily be swapped in and out for each other—without losing the strong point of view.