Five years into our journey, and we’re ready for the next step. Innovation doesn’t stand still, and as we move into the next stage of our growth, we’ve taken a step back to reassess how our brand and website meet the needs of our amazing community.
Starting today, those eagle-eyed among you will notice a few major changes, including:
· A new name
· A new website
· And a new look!
In this blog, we’ll explore why these changes have been made, and what this means for you. We’ll explore the meaning and beliefs that shaped the rebrand, as well as introduce the community of collaborators sourced solely from Plus X Innovation members that have helped my team make it a reality.
Why We’ve Chosen to Rebrand Now
Over the past few years, we’ve seen significant growth and change. This has led to a series of sub-brands, from Central Research Laboratory to BRITE, which have made it a little difficult for our audience to get to know who Plus X Innovation is as a brand.
In 2022, we set out with community member Bill Wallsgrove to explore our brand architecture, and really think about how we can make Plus X Innovation come together as one.
Over the next five years, we’re on a mission to open 25 innovation hubs in towns and cities across the UK. To meet this ambitious aim, we need a brand that’s fit for growth, recognisable, and matches our innovative spirit.
We have a lot planned for Plus X Innovation over the next few months, so watch this space for some incredibly exciting announcements.
We wanted a brand that could connect all our previous sub-brands, and adapt to fit our needs as we enter new towns and cities across the UK. As with any good brand refresh, we have brilliant ground principles that we never want to lose. This is an evolution, not a revolution.
With the support of Bill Wallsgrove, I set out to explore how our brand can align and become fit for the future across all touchpoints – the website, our language, our innovation hubs, programmes, events, member communications, our social channels, and within the company itself.
We interviewed members of the Plus X Innovation team, and met with members and partners to understand what our broad range of users really need from us.
Our New Name: Plus X Innovation
It’s not just our look that’s changing. From today, Plus X becomes Plus X Innovation.
The name Plus X was originally devised from the idea that great things happen when people cross paths. It represents the adding and multiplying of ideas through collaboration.
As Plus X Innovation, we stand for innovation through collaboration. By bringing innovation into our name, we commit to making innovation the core of everything members experience in our hubs, on our programmes, and in the community. Innovation is our USP; it is what we enable, and who we are.
You’ll see the new name on our website, on our logo, and all digital touchpoints, as well as in our new website URL: www.plusxinnovation.com. Emails will also begin to come from this new URL, so please make sure you mark our emails as safe to avoid those pesky spam filters!
With our name change, we’ve updated our logo. With this we honour the heritage and recognition we’ve built up with our symbols, but have adapted this to be more usable and recognisable as we become a national brand.
From extensive customer research we know that the +X symbols alone proved confusing to some unfamiliar with our brand, with some interpreting this as Plus Cross, Add Ex, and one person even thinking the logo represented an upcoming Ed Sheeran album!
In the new logo and throughout our site, you’ll start to see our new shape, known as our Blox. The idea for Blox came from examining prototyping sketches, the shapes within the innovation hubs, and the machinery within our workshops.
This 2D shape has been designed with movement in mind. It can grow, shift, and build together to create new things – just like how we see innovation created by collaboration between members every day in our innovation hubs.
While our previous colour palette was quite varied, we’ve honed in on what we see as Plus X Innovation’s most recognisable colour: yellow. In our innovation hubs and on our business support programmes, yellow is the dominating colour, and the one most associated with our brand.
With an extensive secondary colour palette, we hope you find our new look exciting, engaging, and distinctly ‘us’.
Our new font is Lexend: a font created specifically to help people with dyslexia. Making innovation accessible for everyone is a key aim of ours, so we want to make sure every part of our offering is created with accessibility in mind.
Central Research Laboratory and Plus X Innovation: Better Together
As part of our rebrand, we are bringing Central Research Laboratory (CRL) into the fold. While CRL has always been a key part of the Plus X Innovation journey, it’s retained its own visual identity, social channels, and website.
From today, visitors to the CRL website will now land on www.plusxinnovation.com. For members, this means very little in practice – you'll have a nice new look website and emails coming your way, and can still access the members area as usual by clicking Login in the top right of the screen.
You may also see the traditional CRL logo start to disappear in some places, though the Central Research Laboratory name will remain. Please follow the Plus X Innovation social media channels to stay up-to-date with what’s happening at all our locations, as the CRL social channels will start to be phased out from June onwards.
What We Care About
When creating the new brand, we really wanted to home in on what really matters to the Plus X Innovation team. We have an amazing bunch of team members that really care about helping our member businesses grow, and wanted these core attributes to shape the direction of the brand.
Our members are at the core of everything we do. From the programmes we create, the spaces we design, and the events we plan, we want to put the needs of the businesses and individuals within our innovation hubs first.
In discussions with our Content Team, we found that everything they do aims to put members at the heart. This led our brand strategy – putting our community at the centre of our brand, and not letting visuals detract from the real people and stories that make Plus X Innovation such a special place to grow a business.
The design of our innovation hubs has been carefully thought about to provide a productive work environment. We looked carefully at the materials used in the hubs, as well as the machines, angles, and colours that make the Plus X Innovation hubs so distinctive.
In our new brand, you’ll begin to see some familiar patterns to bring more alignment between the physical and digital spaces. This includes patterned plywood common across the Brighton hub and CRL workshop; designs reminiscent of our recycled tables and plinth in Brighton; grid paper and machine bits we found in the workshop; and even the toilet floors!
Making our brand accessible to the broadest possible audience has been a core part of the rebrand – after all, innovation can only come about with a diversity of thought. Readability and accessibility has been carefully thought about and considered across every touchpoint.
As a UX Designer, staying close to WCAG Compliance rules has been vital in meeting the needs of our users. We have introduced accessibility measures into our brand documentation to ensure tools such as captions, alt text, screen reader usability, and fonts are usable by the widest audience possible.
Of course, accessibility is never complete. We commit to making this a priority for our brand going forwards – staying close to changes in the industry, listening to feedback from our community, and always questioning if the work we’re doing is truly accessible.
As we set out to create a new website, we knew that we had so much talent within the Plus X Innovation community that there was no need to look beyond our front doors!
Web design agency Altiverse has led the creation of our new site – working tirelessly to bring our vision to life and make a website fit for future growth. CEO and Founder Arun Thangavel has been a key member at Central Research Laboratory – not only joining the CRL Accelerator as a cohort member, but going on to mentor hardware entrepreneurs on marketing.
Flanked by a talented team of web designers and developers, Altiverse’s flexibility, expertise, and friendship has been greatly valued during a project full of change. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with this brilliant team to continue building our website in the long-term.
Brighton members will be familiar with Bill Wallsgrove, the brains behind brand consultancy Brandad. Bill has given expert advice on brand theory, best practice, and implementation to founders and growing businesses in the Plus X Innovation network – sharing his knowledge through 1:1 sessions, partner clinics, and workshops as part of the BRITE Project and our Xperts initiative.
Bill came in at the beginning of the project to explore our brand architecture, and bring simplicity to what had historically been complicated. He led workshops with the leadership team, marketers, and representatives from different areas of the business to bring together a brand identity that unified the Plus X Innovation brand. His work was used to inspire the look, feel, and structure of all brand work created by the design team – and has been a brilliant sounding board as we create all the necessary assets and guidelines for the team.
As well as kicking off an extensive brand refresh and new website, we took the opportunity to move our CRM to Hubspot, with the support of Bright Dials Founder and Brighton community member Lindsey Pickles. Her diligence and organisation will help us better understand what our members need from Plus X Innovation, and speed up processes and communication between the team and our community.
Doris Xiaoyu Chen
Doris Xiaoyu Chen is a core part of the Plus X Innovation design team – working on projects across the business as well as working closely with me to create all new brand assets for the team.
As well as being an incredible freelance designer with a strong understanding of how designs working holistically across different touchpoints, she is experienced in the world of workspace, meaning she has a strong understanding of the needs of our audience. We first met Doris as her partner was a Brighton member – a great example of the serendipity of water cooler chats!
Animator Oscar Maydon was brought in towards the end of the project to help bring our new brand guidelines for video into reality. As a Brighton Resident member, he could collaborate directly with our brilliant Content Producer Zachary Hyland as they sit next to each other in the second floor Resident Space!
You’ll see his animations used in all our videos going forwards – helping make our videos distinctly Plus X Innovation, but without losing our core focus on showcasing the achievements and insights of our community. Check out Zach and Oscar's work in the launch video below!
Thank you to all our collaborators for their amazing work – as well as the hard work of the Plus X central marketing team, leadership team, and champions for each area of the business who gave us their time and knowledge to make the new brand fit for the future.
What’s Next for Plus X Innovation
We hope you love our new look, and find our new website and brand a big step forwards. If you have any questions, feedback, or encounter any issues using the new site, please chat to your local Location Manager, or pop us a message on mailto:email@example.com.
UX Designer at Plus X Innovation