2017 Winners

DesignThinkers 2017

The Association of Registered Graphic Designers

Silver Design Agency of the Year: Rethink

The Purpose/Challenge: Rebranding Canada's largest design conference.

For 18 years, DesignThinkers has brought design leaders from around the world to a single forum in Toronto. In 2017, DesignThinkers expanded to two host cities, Toronto and Vancouver, with twice as many speakers. The DesignThinkers conference was in need of a flexible identity that unified these two events under a single theme, despite being separated by more than 4000 kilometres and five months.

Historically, DesignThinkers has only been promoted to existing members of the Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD), using e-blasts and direct mail posters. With an event in Vancouver, a city outside of RGD's Ontario-focused influence, they needed to create a conference identity that could have a substantial impact and reach on social media.

The Insight: the agency’s design solution – the eye.

As a symbol of the common thread between visual designers, the eye allows for infinite perspectives to be expressed. It represents the unique perspectives of each and every DesignThinkers speaker and attendee, adapting in form and style to reflect a new point of view.

The eye is an iconic form on its own as a static logo, but it also came to life by tying the theme of ‘perspectives’ into social animations, user-created content and visual continuity at every conference touchpoint.

The Execution

Web App: Agency Rethink created a mobile web app (RGDdoodle.com) that allowed DesignThinkers delegates, and even those not attending the event, to draw their own perspective within the eye logo and share their creation on social media.

Name Badges: A first for DesignThinkers, the agency created individualized name badges for each and every attendee – more than 2000 unique designs in total.

Event Guide Program: With a very limited budget for the event guide, but recognizing the importance of this piece, the agency created a unique and engaging book that made for a great conversation starter at the conference. On the front cover, the team created a Magic Eye – a hidden image that is only revealed upon changing your perspective (essentially, relaxing and crossing your eyes). They also designed and printed a graphic on the edge of the book that is only revealed when you flip through the pages. These two techniques were generated in-house at no additional cost, and they really caught the attendees’ attention. As Hilary Ashworth, RGD’s executive director, said in an interview, “Working with a non-profit, you don't have a lot of money necessarily for extra touches… the creativity and imagination of the design team allowed [the] program to be something really special."

The Impact

The Vancouver DesignThinkers conference received nearly double the amount of attendees anticipated.

Preliminary mid-campaign results have also revealed a noticeable spike in the sharing of, and interaction with, the DesignThinkers identity in social media. Ashworth also explained that during this five-month period between the two events, the identity “has continued to be fresh and it has continued to be used in so many different ways… I love the logo because it brought together a central focus for the event."

With one conference of the 2017 season still to come, Ashworth has already paid the ultimate compliment in saying, "This is going to be a hard act to follow."