Identity Designed is a showcase of brand identity projects from around the world.

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Contributed by Vietnam-based graphic designer Scott Lambert.

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

OUCRU was established in 1991 with support from the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, the Health Services of HCMC and the Wellcome Trust. OUCRU also now works with it’s partners in many places including: Thailand, Indonesia, and Nepal.

The unit’s strategic aim is to have a positive and significant impact on global health and, in particular, the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases. This is being achieved via an integrated long-term research programme, contributions to training, the scientific literature, national and international meetings and membership of national and international committees.

This brand identity project was commissioned by OUCRU and remunerated through the University of Oxford. One of the most important parts of the brief was creating a unified identity for OUCRU that respects the brand guidelines of Wellcome Trust and University of Oxford.

The coded sequence

Purposely ambiguous, these coloured shapes feel scientific. They can be viewed as a sequence of chromosomes, a course of medical treatment, or a group of bacteria, even people. They may simply be a colorful respite in a sterile environment.

The sequence represents the process of searching for answers – making sense out of something that at first has none. It represents problem solving and offers rewards to those that do. Very simply – each shape represents a letter of the alphabet.

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

The identity was unveiled last month in front of OUCRU’s 100 strong team.

The whole project took 10 months, involved internal research, brand strategy, design development, and then brand guidelines. It was a pleasure to work with OUCRU’s senior team, none of whom are brand managers or marketeers, which made their insights and feedback incredibly honest and even more relevant. They were never interested in the ‘safe’ options, their work in science often involves innovation and discovery, and that is what they wanted to convey. It was incredibly refreshing working with people who have respect for diligence and yet trust their own intincts.

“We are delighted with the results and are looking forward to implementing it fully over the course of the next 6-8 months.”
— SARAH BARTON, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, OUCRU

View more of Scott’s work on his website and Behance portfolio.

22 much appreciated comments about “Oxford University Clinical Research Unit”

  1. Positively the best branding I’ve seen in a while!
    Well thought out and thoroughly applied most effectively!

  2. Simple, elegant, vibrant and distinctively visible. Excellent Branding.

  3. Cisco Systems, anyone?

  4. Excellent rationale and execution. Appropriately intriguing, without coming across cryptic. Nicely done Scott.

  5. Very inspiring. I really admire the way the creativity of the branding has been fused with the rationality of the organisation it’s representing.

  6. Superb! What a surprising and delightful concept created from the lowly “pill.”

  7. ^^Agree with john spiegel, probably the best identity case study I’ve seen in a while and really well executed.

  8. I’ll admit I did see Cisco Systems at first, and even Paul Smith in the striped colour scheme. Neither are bad images, however.

    I like the concept behind it a lot – simple without being predictable. I also like the alphabet code, although being the lazy git I am I gave up on deciphering them after the first couple. I feel a bit sorry for WXYZ who’ve been lumped together in greyscale alongside their colourful brethren, however.

    I’d like to see how this is implemented. The existing website for OUCRU already features a number of not very complementary logos in its banner, so it will be interesting to see how this logo fits – it’s a lot nicer than the others, for a start.

    I also would have preferred to see more realistic mock-ups of the posters, etc, rather than just the ‘Title goes here’ type, perhaps using something from their Science Cafe or Science Theatre events. I’ll admit this is a personal foible, but it gives a much stronger impression of the identity ‘in action’ as it were. Also, is ‘Research for Better’ OU copy?

    Overall, I think it’s clean, fitting, and nicely put together.

  9. I didn’t see Cisco Systems at first but I do see the resemblance now, particularly with the current iteration – I think I may not have saw it as we’re used to seeing the Cisco Systems logo reversed out on a blue background. The key difference I guess is the modular pill and the logo doesn’t have a static symbol, so it will look different on various applications while maintaining its part in a cohesive whole – also it’s about the other signifiers in the overall identity not just the symbol as is frequently the case in a lot of new identity case studies.

  10. Very nice work, amazing concept and applications.
    But the first time that I looked I saw the brand of Cisco Systems.
    When I read the concept description everything made sense.
    But my first impression was that we are talking about Cisco.

  11. I really love this work. The idea is very clever! The alphabet is so beautiful, and the colours good too. Signage is good, (on the wall which you coloured), but the plexy signage is crude. I think you can to do a much more impressive one. But I love it anyway — website, mobile version, printings, all…

  12. I like it.
    One image has been duplicated, though. The museum one.
    Thanks for sharing.

  13. Thanks for pointing that out, Mattia. My mistake. And thanks to everyone for leaving your thoughts.

  14. Simply lovely.

  15. I pretty much like all the identities you showcase through ID. The only reasons I am commenting is I noticed a mistake. I don’t believe this is your mistake David, since it is in one of the graphic examples. I noticed in the third image from the top that the pill shape for the Capital “O” of Overview is supposed to be white, not navy (which you can’t see on the navy background). So it appears that second word in the pill shapes is one pill shape short and the space between the words is too wide. The reason I noticed it is I realized right away the colored pill shapes probably represented words, but that graphic made me doubt my guess for a bit. :)

  16. Great work Scott. One of the best branding systems (and applications) I’ve seen in a while!

  17. A great example of a good idea, executed perfectly. Very well presented, too.

  18. Absolutely brilliant. I love systems like this, that cohere rather than conform.

  19. Oh, this is inspirational! To have clients like this and the vision… brilliant, well done!

  20. Regardless of whether the presentation is good, one of the many points in one corporate identity is authenticity, which they don’t have in this case, so what’s the point?

  21. And the thing that the guys above are talking about, telling us to read the description before saying it looks like Cisco, why?

    A corporate identity should be understood by all without the support of description, can you imagine walking in the streets and every second to understand a brand you should read something to judge if this makes sense or doesn’t?

  22. I agree with you Kaique.

    It really looks like Cisco identity, and yes, no brand should walk around with a explanation book in its bag, it must talk for itself.

    But I do not think he would just copy it, I believe that everything that we see goes to our creative brain, and at moment of study and creative process it comes out as reference to our work. But if I realize that my work is going to the same way of any other brand project, I stop and start thinking in another way. I think that’s how it happens.

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