CIGI Re-brand (2012)


Bring the CIGI brand out of the academic Microsoft Word template era and into one of sophistication, elegance and style.


  • Achieve buy-in from committee of academics and researchers.
  • Logo cannot be changed.
  • Design a style that can be easily executed by one sole graphic designer (the entirety of the organization’s design staff).
  • Visually conceptualize an organization’s intangible product of ideas.


To the trained eye, CIGI’s logo was simply a reworking of the logo of CIGI founder Jim Balsillie’s corporate brand, Research in Motion (RIM). When looking at the existing CIGI logo, there were three things we could get away with changing while still keeping the “integrity” of the original design.



  • Update the colour. Changing from a navy blue to a brighter sky blue allowing for greater contrast against darker colours and feeling a little less institutional.
  • Simplify the globe. The gradient was removed and two versions were created: one reversed and one standard.
  • Drop the redundant text. The bilingual text line with the company’s full name was removed, emphasizing that the company should be known solely as CIGI.

I created a general design theme that can be used on any design project at the organization. The theme subtly tells the story of CIGI’s vast knowledge and expertise. I reversed the logo against a clean, black space, using a three-dimensional interpretation of the two-dimensional logo. The rendering highlights the two swishes as research streams. Crystallized, they reflect the world, bending and refracting ideas for two streams of recipients: academics and global policy makers.


I create clean designs that succinctly communicate the overall ideas and issues being explored in each of the organization’s research publications. Documents are often displayed at public fora or academic conferences, thus it’s of the upmost importance that CIGI’s publications stand out from other organizations and grab the audience’s eye.


The web team developed a grid-based site wireframe optimized for a Drupal-based theme.

  1. Expanding navigation menu.
  2. Announcement highlighting partners, breaking reports, events and research.
  3. Highlighting the top six research items.
  4. Most recent.
  5. Highlights experts and CIGI’s key research programs.



Keeping the new branding direction in mind, I fed the web team a closely cropped rendering of the swish for the interface header and footer. Text headers, sub-heads and box styles were also designed.


CIGI plays host to countless events each year. Generating collateral such as a stage backdrop, tabards and pull-up banners was an important step to help communicate the brand.

CIGI Video

In 2011, CIGI opened a brand new state-of-the-art broadcast facility. This brought regular video production of conference keynotes, video podcasts and miniature documentaries along with more opportunities to communicate the brand. Lower thirds: Designed to highlight the speaker on screen, the graphic element animates from the bottom, reflecting and rotating, linking back to the broader CIGI style put into place. Intro Clip: Nine seconds delivers the viewer a branded message that what they are about to see is a CIGI production. This animation brings the concept of the brand to life. CIGI research reflects and refracts the earth across all continents, revealing the greater picture of a connected earth and communicates the visual meaning behind the logo.