Pentagram was approached by Oxford Ionics to develop an identity and strategy to represent the company's groundbreaking and precision-based approach to quantum computing.
Founded by Dr Chris Ballance and Dr Tom Harty, two pioneering researchers in quantum computing from Oxford University, Oxford Ionics builds quantum computers using flawless atomic qubits (which are ions trapped above the surface of a chip). By combining the best of photonic and microwave technology, Oxford Ionics is creating a quantum computer with negligible noise and unmatched reliability.
Pentagram worked closely with Oxford Ionics to look at how the business thinks, how the technology works, what it says about itself and how it positions itself. The team also had the privilege of visiting Oxford Ionics at Begbroke Science Park to see its work and laboratory, hearing about the technology it is creating first-hand.
The team helped to define Oxford Ionics' key offer and core values, as well as identify its potential audience and its point of difference in a fast-growing marketplace. The resulting ‘Flawless technology, limitless possibility‘ succinctly sums up Oxford Ionics' rigorous approach and unswerving commitment to precision in everything it does.
The new Oxford Ionics logo is based on the company's extensive research into trapped-ion technology. It dives deep into the atomic scale, zooming in on the ion itself, the centrepiece of the trapped ion technology. The symbol and wordmark are at the centre of the new identity and are both constructed using a simple dot grid system. Representing the movement of ions, the dots also reference 0s and 1s, the binary 'bits' that form the bedrock of all computing.
The logo features a series of dots that form the letters 'O' and 'I', including two sets of dots fused together. This same fused-dot device is also used in the letters of the accompanying lowercase wordmark which uses Dot Matrix Two. An additional uppercase version of the Dot Matrix Two typeface is also used; this sits alongside the sans serif Monument Grotesk, which is used for headlines and body copy.
The design team also created a series of icons, some using solid shapes (which describe different tech elements) and others using a dot-matrix system, which represents the company's core values.
The crisp black, green and white colour palette strikes exactly the right balance between technology and business and emphasises the geometric shapes which appear throughout the identity. A secondary palette of cool pastels is used to complement these in online applications. Icons based on the dot grid from the logo are used across the identity from practical applications (such as on the Oxford Ionics hardware) to the various communication platforms which explain their approach.
Another key part of the visual language is inspired by Oxford Ionics' quantum computers themselves. The design team created a series of textured 3D renders that appear throughout the identity and contrast with the solid colour used elsewhere. The futuristic computer graphics perfectly reflect Oxford Ionics' key offer and unique approach.
Additional patterns created using circles (echoing the precise elements of the Oxford Ionics logo) feature playful and rhythmic compositions. These appear throughout the identity and are employed for social media or merchandise scenarios where user-friendliness is important.
Pentagram has created a poetic narrative and rationale for Oxford Ionics—combining technology and design to make a visually unique and compelling design system. Built from an alluring view of ion trapping, it paints a precise yet beautiful image of a world and a technology that's ordinarily hard to perceive.