Hutchins Center for African & African American Research
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About

About

Brand + Communications
Published:
The creation of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University is the result of a major gift from the Hutchins Family Foundation, endowed by Glenn Hutchins, co-founder of Silver Lake, a private equity firm focused on technology investing.
 
Hutchins Center will house a group of world-leading research institutes and programs, dedicated to the creation of cutting-edge knowledge in the field of African & African American research. It will encompass, among other initiatives, the W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute, the Hiphop Archive & Research Institute, the Afro-Latin American Research Institute, the Image of the Black Archive a& Library, the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery for African & African American Art, as well as two publications — the Du Bois Review and Transition Magazine.
 
Bruce Mau Design (BMD) worked with Henry Louis Gates Jr, Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, Glenn Hutchins and their esteemed colleagues to define the brand architecture, develop a visual identity system and new website. BMD worked with bv02, an Ottawa based digital firm, on the development of a new site. In addition, BMD collaborated with Think/Feel, a Brooklyn based filmmaking team, on a short documentary celebrating this important next step in the Center’s trajectory. 
 
About the Branding:
The Hutchins’ icon is built from 2 A’s – for African and American – that layer on top of each other to create the consistent ‘H’ mark across institutes, representing both Hutchins and Harvard. BMD set out to articulate the Hutchins Center, its different entities, activities and overall vision in a way that is both inspiring and clear. The visual identity has the ability to communicate a sense of autonomy for each of the major endeavors at the Hutchins Center, while also coming together to be a cohesive system.
A series of patterns, based on the positive and negative spaces of the H icon, with the idea that together they would represent the multidisciplinary, multidimensional activities and outputs of the Center. Each pattern is meant to represent each of the major entities at Hutchins. They can be used in combination with the Hutchins Center mother brand, or alone to represent a specific institute or program. 
BMD worked with Think/Feel to create a short documentary celebrating this important next step in the Center’s trajectory. This film looks at the past, present and future of the dynamic Du Bois Institute and now academic Center. It includes interviews and commentary from Henry Louis Gates Jr, Glenn Hutchins, Larry Summers, Harvard President Drew Faust and several other notable scholars. The documentary was screened for the first time at the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal ceremony on October 2, 2013. The prize is Harvard’s highest honor in the field of African and African American Studies, and will honor Tony Kushner, Sonia Sotomayor, and Steven Spielberg, among others. Following the screening it will live on the Center’s main website. 
The Hutchins website, developed in partnership with bv02, is designed to be a portal to the many entities that make up the Hutchins Center, while also showing it to be a cross-disciplinary, cross-media research hub. The brand architecture and visual hierarchy are made clear on the website. As users scroll through the homepage, the gold Hutchins Center icon follows along, changing color to reflect each institute identity. Newer institutes are housed within the Hutchins Center URL, while some longer established institutes eventually direct to an existing site. These elements allow the site to be flexible enough to contain a variety of content from fellowship applications to publications to lecture series and events.