The 2Blades Foundation—a not-for-profit dedicated to discovering, advancing, and delivering genetic improvements in crop disease resistance—was my first client here at Sametz Blackstone Associates.
Working with them towards a new brand and website was a great start to my time here. The team at 2Blades was excited, communicative, and passionate about their work. Their clear passion and altruism inspired us to develop concepts and ideas that helped them better connect with their audience and advance their cause. I was further inspired by watching my new team members expertly navigate the project’s nuances. Being surrounded by knowledgeable people with diverse areas of expertise spurred me to deliver designs everyone would be proud of.
One of the initial strategy decisions made was employing the use of the numeral “2” instead of “two” in the Foundation’s name*. Differentiating 2Blades from the competitive landscape, as well as offering some visual intrigue, the use of the numeral would prove critical to brand development—and would also prove quite a challenge to visually nail down. We needed a 2 that was professional and altruistic. A 2 that was smart, but approachable. A 2 that was neither 2 hot, nor 2 cold, but jjuuusttt right.
This was my bread and butter (or, perhaps my…porridge?). I could explore typographic options all day—and I just about did. Serifs and sans serifs, humanists and geometrics, scotch romans and transitionals, I combed through them all trying to find the letterforms that perfectly communicated the 2Blades Foundation’s mission. I find it incredible that different typefaces can communicate different ideas—that they can feel right or wrong in certain circumstances. For the sake of this blogpost I will avoid the rabbit hole of semiotics and the philosophical intricacies therein, but I will say that finding the “Goldilocks” 2 required a good amount of contemplation.
Geogrotesque’s blocky sans serif letterforms certainly spoke to the technology 2Blades developed, but were too “sci-fi.” Miller Display had the neat, professional look a foundation should have, but the overly ornate 2 didn’t speak to 2Blades’ dirt-under-the-fingernails workmanship. More research was needed…
In the end we had to make the perfect 2. Above, the blue shows the original form of Mangan’s 2, and the black shows our more upright and confident 2.
Unsurprisingly, the pragmatic scientists at 2Blades were very receptive to our presentation, and knew what they liked when they saw it. A wordmark lockup was decided upon rather easily—however our Goldilocks 2 was going to require just a little more finesse. Mangan, the final typeface, communicated 2Blades’ message and personality brilliantly, but the 2 (and I quote) “needed to have its pants pulled up a little.” The bowl of the 2 seemed to sag towards the bottom, and didn’t have the visual strength we felt necessary for 2Blades. Honing the old numeral into a more confident and straightforward shape gave the wordmark the final touch it needed, and now it sits juuussttt right at the top of the new 2blades.org.
The final product, combining customized serif and sans serif typefaces into one wordmark that mirrors 2Blades Foundation’s values and mission.
*The name “2Blades” was inspired by a quote from Jonathan Swift’s 1726 book Gulliver’s Travels; “And he gave it for his opinion, that whosoever could make two ears of corn or two blades of grass to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.”