Every once in a while you get a brief that just feels special. Maybe it was their name, Superorganism, or maybe it was the way the founders proudly maintained that “nature is weird, so our brand should be, too.” Whatever it was, Superorganism had us dreaming up ideas for this project from the first moment we heard about them.
Fast forward 10 weeks, 13 Zoom calls, 4 rounds of revisions, and a whole lot of collaboration in between, we couldn’t be prouder of the way those ideas and dreams came to fruition. Our partnership with Superorganism was every bit as special as that initial brief, so we’re excited to put it all on display with this look behind the brand. Here, we’ll walk you through the process we took to create the Superorganism brand from start to finish.
Superorganism is the first venture firm for biodiversity. After working with Superorganism’s co-founders, Tom Quigley and Kevin Webb, we could wax poetic about the importance of biodiversity to life on this planet, but here’s what you need to know: we are currently losing species and ecosystems at such a rapid rate that it registers as a mass extinction event—one of only 6 known events in the entire 3.5 billion year history of life on Earth. Tom and Kevin started Superorganism on the belief that venture-backed startups are an excellent match for the speed and scale needed to implement solutions. Superorganism invests in seed-stage startups working to reverse extinction drivers and create an abundant world of species and ecosystems. In short: they’re out to save the world.
Tom and Kevin are creating a first-of-its-kind venture firm in Superorganism, and we all wanted their brand identity to reflect that. Before we walk through the process, let’s take a look at where we landed—and if you couldn’t tell yet, we’re pretty darn proud.
For more, check out the full case study here.
Our process at Goodside is built on our belief that great brands require great strategy. So every project starts with Discovery and Positioning, the phase where we establish the foundation for the visual and verbal system that follows. For Superorganism, our discovery process involved interviews with Tom and Kevin, of course, along with conversations with their portfolio companies and LPs. We dove deep into their extensive documentation about their vision and theses—Tom and Kevin are self-proclaimed over-communicators, which was a huge advantage during this process—and conducted a brand workshop to kick the tires on some early ideas. Lots of research and a look at the landscape around them revealed, unsurprisingly, there’s no one quite like them.
Understanding Superorganism meant understanding equally the worlds of venture capital and environmentalism. The contrasts between the two disciplines inspired us to play with the concepts of present and future, reality and possibility, what is and what if. This dynamic tension became the backbone of our story, celebrating Superorganism as the bridge that connects it all for founders with wild ambition.
Brand Identity Round 1
The first round of brand identity is always an exhilarating, off-the-wall creative playground of ideas and explorations. This one was especially so. Building on our brand foundation and drawing inspiration from the abundance and vibrancy of nature, we developed four distinct brand directions to bring the new Superorganism to life.
For each brand direction, we like to tease the concept with an opening paragraph to set the scene.
Direction 1: Our world is full of oddities and eccentricities that scientists and artists have documented in rich and vivid detail. With every page comes a new discovery. Let’s imagine an encyclopedia-come-to-life identity that feels anything but textbook.
Direction 2: Superorganism is the merging of two worlds—two distinct domains brought together to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Let’s create an identity that mirrors this exchange and plays with the concept of pattern matching in the wild.
Direction 3: Fact stranger than fiction. Fiction made all the more fantastic. The world is its own cabinet of curiosities, bursting with life and ideas. Let’s create an identity that embraces the wonder of the world that already exists and the worlds we’re imagining into being.
Direction 4: The Earth is teeming with life. Millions of species, each strange and exceptional in its own way, coexist side by side and layer one atop another on our own blue planet. Let’s capture the sheer abundance of life around us with a refreshingly unconventional and fearlessly maximalist identity.
True to their charter and their brand belief that more is more, the feedback to Round 1 was largely yes-and! Direction 3 was our winner for its beauty and concept, rooted in the cabinet of curiosities and bursting with life. We were encouraged to embrace the sleek, modern approach of Direction 2, and retain the whimsy of Directions 1 & 3—albeit leaning more toward real, existing naturescapes, rather than surreal futurescapes.
For us, scalability after we hand off a brand is also always top of mind. Knowing that Tom and Kevin would be implementing this brand themselves with the help of contract designers and developers, we discussed the practical considerations that go along with selecting each brand direction. We ultimately chose a typeface, Roboto, that was available on Google Fonts, and created a library of edited images that they could tap into over time.
Brand Identity Revisions
Anyone in the creative field knows, revisions is where the real work begins—take feedback too literally and you end up settling for a paint-by-numbers situation; too loosely and you’ll never reach completion. In a great collaboration, every round should elevate the system, giving it a healthy push toward its final state. This collaboration with Superorganism was exactly that.
Each round of revisions got better and closer. We tested out new ways of bringing the system to life—notably taking a foray into 3D at one point, which we loved but didn’t quite make the cut.
Perfecting the Logo
The last step was perfecting the logo. Throughout the process, we’d been plagued by the same question: How can we capture the diversity of all of the earth’s species and ecosystems with a single mark? It’s a tall order. We explored ferns, nautilus shells, trees, corals, globes, flowers, monograms, and more.
We started to feel skeptical that we’d know it when we saw it... but then we saw it.
Part monogram, part coral polyp, our final logo captures the essence of Superorganism in a way that we think is quite clever, if we do say so ourselves.
By definition, a superorganism is a form of life composed of mutually interdependent parts that maintain various vital processes. Think ant hills, bee hives, and the like, a superorganism is a collection of agents which can act in concert to produce phenomena governed by the collective. From Tom and Kevin, we heard that, “the two reasons we like the name Superorganism are because, beyond the obvious, it also metaphorically encompasses the technological & information superstructure that humans have built around ourselves, and because of the Gaia Hypothesis which suggests that the entire planet itself exists as a superorganism, where all ecosystems and species exist collectively and in balance.”
This set us back onto corals, a superorganism comprised of polyps (the individual), corals (the community), and reefs (the ecosystem). There are visual similarities and symmetries across every level, from polyp to reef, and some extremely apt metaphors across all levels to what Tom and Kevin were building.
We shared this final logo alongside one other contender in what we’ll admit was a bit of a Hail Mary, please-like-it, 10-slide presentation. And to our delight, this was the response:
“Kevin and I both had the exact same thought watching the presentation: we've found our logo. I shared our excitement [in this Loom].
Without a doubt, Logo 2 is our logo. It's us in so many ways. I know you said in a previous rev that it would be hard / impossible to bring in all the things that we want to communicate, but it really feels like you've done that in this logo. We see so much in here and it looks amazing. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
This victory lap wouldn’t be complete without fully acknowledging the amount of time, care, and passion that Tom and Kevin put into this project. If partnership is the name of the game in venture capital, you absolutely want Tom and Kevin on your team.
While brand launch is the end for us, it’s just the beginning for Superorganism. It always makes it easier to part ways with our favorite clients knowing that they’re in good hands when we leave them. We connected our friends at Superorganism to Hunter Thompson at Kinetic Studio to design and build an absolutely stunning website in Webflow. And look at that thing shine.
We’re looking forward to reading headlines about how Superorganism and the world-changing businesses they invest in are, well, changing the world. And we’re looking forward to receiving some killer swag in the mail soon... *hint hint*. Just kidding. We’re very proud of the work that we did together, and thrilled to share it with the world.
World, meet Superorganism.