Co-founder Yasunobu and I have worked together since 2013, to build a contemporary identity for the world’s first global early-stage VC fund.
When he founded Innovation Global Capital in 2013, Yasunobu contacted me looking for an identity that was fresh and contemporary, yet conveyed a sense of stability and tradition. This would be the world's first retail-focused VC fund, so it was inherently innovative, but it also had to convey the sense of stability that appealed to the institutional investors and traditional financial firms with whom Yasunobu would be working with on a day-to-day basis, both in America and Japan.
In the beginning, Innovation Global was just a thesis. That is, Yasunobu and his team had put a great amount of effort into defining a set of fundamental values and constructing an investment strategy, however, they had to set about raising capital and identifying investment opportunities to put it all in motion. From a design perspective, this was a little different than usual. We needed a presence, but were intentionally flying under the radar while the firm raised and deployed capital.
At the time (2013), gradient logos and organic shapes were very much on trend, however, we wanted something strong that conveyed stability. We were also very conscious of the fact that it had to bridge the aesthetic sensibilities of East and West. We looked to the idea of bridges as a metaphor of connection. Connection between cultures, between entrepreneurs, and capital and strategic management.
Being a San Francisco based firm, the Golden Gate bridge provided the perfect inspiration, as the angled pillars rising progressively to the right are the perfect metaphor for growth from a stable foundation. In contrast to much of Silicon Valley, a core tenet of Innovation Global is the idea of fundamental profitability as a basis for growth.
While the logo itself is simple and bold, we added a freshness to it by using a vibrant, non-corporate blue. This combination has allowed us to shift visual focus between fresh and bold, and restrained and traditional as needed.
Once the logo and the basic brand elements were in place, we built a website that served to highlight the company's philosophy. As we intentionally flew under the radar however, most of the visual development took place in internal presentations and investor letters.
Overall, I used a grid system to impose visual stability that also serves as a framework for consistency between English and Japanese. As these documents can be text heavy, generous white space and visual elements that add color and break the grid are key.
Another point of difference with Innovation Global is that the founding team views the companies it invests in as partners, not simply an investment. Therefore, much of the Innovation Global identity was built around the idea of letting partner companies take the focus visually.
In 2018, 5 years after first launching, we started making the Innovation Global brand more public. As of writing, Innovation Global is invested in 16 companies, each with their own unique visual identity. This gives us a wealth of third party assets to use in combination with the Innovation brand, proving a flexibility that allows us to shift the visual focus as needed.
I designed the current website using Sketch and built it using Webflow. I built a CMS system that gives us total control over adding partner companies as they're invested in, and updating the Press page on the fly. In terms of Press, we added 6 items in 2018, 11 in 2019, and 12 in the first quarter of 2020 alone. The firm is growing rapidly, and Yasunobu makes frequent media appearances on CNN, Bloomberg, and FOX Business.
With a portfolio of 16 partners and growing, Innovation Global is now a top tier fund, with Yasunobu making frequent media appearances on America's premiere financial networks. The firm has evolved over the years from a thesis, to a high-performing fund. The brand identity has done the same and has appeared everywhere from financial media to bus wraps (Innovation Global is a sponsor of the San Francisco ballet as pictured above). The next phase of brand growth will involve extending and building a system that scales the core visual elements effectively as Innovation Global continues to grow and pursue new opportunities as they present themselves.
Yasunobu Kyogoku – Founder, Innovation Global Capital