Chicago Botanic Garden
Branding + Identity
The AskThe Chicago Botanic Garden needed an app that utilized user generated plant data for a climate change research initiative called Budburst.
The mission of Budburst is to track the cycles of plants in a particular location over time. Users could tag a plant in their local park, or even in their backyard, and enter in plant and location data about that particular plant. By aggregating this data from users all over a given area, the Chicago Botanic Garden could further their research on climate change.
The final deliverable included a refresh of the branding and messaging of Budburst, a marketing site that educated users on the initiative, a mobile app where users could access and contribute to the data, and a version of that app to be used as a web application. This was a design deliverable only, our work was then handed to another company to handle the development. My focus on this project was to build the identity, and the UI design of the marketing site and web application.
I began the identity portion of the project with a series of moodboards. By using color and found imagery, we were able to have a broader conversation about the emotions we wanted the brand to convey. This exercise not only informed our visual strategy during the moodboard process, but also helped our content strategy team as they entered their phase of developing the brand story.
The selected board was “The Inquisitive Botanist,” which evoked an academic feeling. Tones of gray, cream, and white simulated the texture of paper, as if it were being ripped from a textbook. The lime green on dark green represented the pops of color found in plant life.
For typography, I utilized large type treatments to pull out pieces of complex information; enlarging data as forms of visual interest. The iconography was minimal and abstract, since the concepts our icons had to convey were very nuanced. For illustrations, our team created illustrations of the different plant groups as a way to give a field notes sketch feel to the content on the site.
I played with a lot of concentric circles as a way to explore the cyclical, and continuous life of plants over time. In my head I imagined death and rebirth, and the importance of these cycles to the mission of Budburst. In other exploration, I wanted to create an icon that abstracted the image of a plant to convey an organic feeling. Also, I looked for ways to incorporate a location pin symbol into the plant form, since the initiative is so focused on location information.
The chosen option had a mark with a continuous line that resembled both a bud and a flower. This most represented the continuous line concept, and the shape of the location pin anchored at the bottom. We kept the typeface all lowercase as it was in the previous logo, since the lowercase letters brought in the concentric circle theme in the logomark, and gave the logo a more approachable feel.
It takes a lot of an effort for a user to download an app, take a photo of a plant outside, and enter in complex data. Our team had to focus our content strategy on empowering users to join a movement to further the research on climate change. Paired with a large headline, I included an animation of collaged UI pieces that showcased the user with the data, this is to represent the diversity of people who can involve themselves with this mission.
While the marketing site served as a promotional piece for Budburst, it also needed to be a gateway to an in-browser version of the app. The application itself had many features, but the screen you see above is a feature where users can find plant data in their area. They can navigate this info by moving a map around, or by a grid view. They can also search for a particular species they’re looking to get data on, and see all posts on that plant in a given region.
Budburst’s main goal was to aggregate data, but we also wanted to create spaces for community on the app. The screen above showcases a detail page for a Budburst group. Users could create groups based on certain parameters; whether it was a group that worked locally to collect data in a given region, or nationally to gather information on a specific plant species.
As a conclusion for this project, I made a series of video prototypes of the app as a marketing tool for the client. I took screens from the lead designer on the app and created motion graphics that showed each of the main features of the app. I felt it was also a nice vignette of the new branding we had developed and an excuse for me to animate the logo.