Subject Matter: focusing on what matters most.
Addressing issues like mental illness, chronic pain, or opioid addiction is difficult. The Subject Matter team firmly believes that the best approach to a patient’s treatment is multifaceted. By starting from this perspective, the treatment reflects the complex and intertwined nature of the conditions.
Our approach needed to reflect this complexity while making it visually stunning and approachable.
Subject Matter has countless ongoing projects and work to showcase, but they needed a name, brand and digital home that would connect all of their incredible work together, and to the public at large. This increase in recognizability and trust helps them build relationships not only with fundraisers, but with the larger community as a whole.
Subject Matter deals with incredibly complex subject matter. They elicit emotional responses from stakeholders, no matter their level of involvement. In addition, individual patients’ treatments can be tough to navigate.
For those reasons, we decided that every touch-point for Subject Matter needed to be simple and clean. For the website, filtering tools were implemented to help showcase the clinicians’ work. Simplicity would be the key to reflecting the team’s complex work.
Brand Name and Identity
Before we could even consider the website and how to showcase Subject Matter’s work, our team needed to develop a brand name and identity.
We centered our attention on the concept of “focus” as a representation of all of the topics Subject Matter deals with.
Subject Matter is a center point for its patients: data is fed in, and actionable information comes out. When a patient shares their past and current struggles, that information is filtered through the lab. With their clinician’s help, the patient then develops a path into the future. Patients have access to the knowledge they need to find their way through the mess they may be in, and out of this darkness of the unknown. They learn to weigh information and understand the importance of focus.
The difficulty is the idea of focus, of centralizing. These issues are of extreme importance, and we wanted a name that would showcase that this lab focuses on real world problems, on subjects that matter. Because they are an organization based largely on research, the play on words draws people in.
We believe that these terms represent the brand’s complexity as well as its capability to find a path through complex circumstances.
This then leads us to the logomark which can be interpreted as a “greater than/less than” symbol, as well as arrows pointing towards the center, some point of focus. The wide level of interpretation allows the mark to mean multiple things to varying people. The brand scalability was also heavily considered, having the mark incredibly flexible across multiple applications.
Due to the complexity of Subject Matter’s work, we knew the user experience of the website needed to be simple and straightforward, making it clear that there was a path out of overwhelming complexity.
To represent this concept of finding a way out of complex problems, we decided on a minimalistic visual design. The idea is to let the work the team does take all the user’s attention. The design incorporates lines and Subject Matter’s unique shade of blue. Both imbue a straightforward and “hospital like” feeling.
These two elements are juxtaposed with very lightly used, hand-drawn custom iconography, whose goal is to bring the aesthetic to life on a screen.
Part of our brief included developing a custom, lightweight website for Subject Matter. As with all of our projects, we steered clear of pre-built templates or plugins. Each element is built from scratch and tailored to Subject Matter’s needs for content management.
The blank page is no longer a blank page. The unnamed health research lab now not only has a name, but a bold brand identity to go with it. In addition, their website reflects their work and their identity.
Subject Matter remains closely associated with Sinai Health System. At the same time, the researchers who are part of the lab can finally show off all the incredible work they do in one central place. Name, brand identity, and user experience are built on the central idea of focusing on what matters most, of navigating together with their patients, creating a sense of pride for the entire team.