Spoonful of sugar: Studio AH-HA gives Biocol a new graphic identity
The medical realm is – by nature and definition – a clinical one. Long words, complicated chemistry, microscopic organisms responsible for pain and destruction, small white pills capable of healing and providing relief. With the exception of Damien Hirst's pharmaceutical-inspired art and its many incarnations, this is a world of graphically-challenged anticeptic identities, until now that is. Lisbon-based graphic design Studio AH-HA has created a visual identity for Biocol, breaking the scientific mould in the most spectacular way.
Biocol is a Portuguese medical lab known for championing the chemical-free approach to healing – 'free of nonsense' as they like to call it. Thus, their prescriptions take an uncommon starting point: natural ingredients. That proved to be the same starting point for Studio AH-HA's founding members Catarina Carreiras and Carolina Cantante. 'The colour palette we took from Biocol's ingredient list,' explains Carreiras. 'They only use natural ingredients – from vegetables like artichokes to minerals – which made the palette easy to balance.'
By balance of course, she means pop; simple images jump out against bright backdrops of solid colours. 'The crucial aspect was to simplify the medicine's message, not only in words but in visuals as well.' Striking a balance between artistic endeavour and the creation of a universal language, combining their playful typographic sensibilities with still-life images, the identity they produced is as powerful as it is playful. 'We wanted to make sure that everyone was able to understand it [the medicine] in one glance,' she adds.
Thus the instantly recognisable McDonalds chip holder is filled with asparagus; a cheese plant leaf stands tall in a glass of ice water; a blister pack contains small blossoms instead of pills. These unexpected twists all aim to communicate the function behind the Biocol remedy or potion in question; recovering from a food coma, rehydrating after a night of boozing or easing a cold with the power of nature.
As part of the visual overhaul, Studio AH-HA also created the company's entire branding, down to the envelopes, business cards and stationery. The logo – a simple dot, representative of pills – appears in various guises throughout; puncturing business cards and as the dot of the 'i' in the brand name itself.
Turns out there really is no better source of inspiration than nature.