Oswaldo Cruz Foundation an institution in the service of life

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Fiocruz launches new graphic brand on its anniversary


Ricardo Valverde (Fiocruz News Agency), in collaboration of Karine Rodrigues (COC/Fiocruz)


Fiocruz launched its new brand last Friday (24/5). The launch, which is part of the celebrations of the Foundation's 124th anniversary, is the result of eight years of work that mobilized designers, journalists and other professionals, which generated dozens of meetings and debates, passed through various internal bodies and, finally, was approved by the institution's Deliberative Council (CD, in the Portuguese acronym) on March 22. The new brand updates Fiocruz's visual identity for the 21st century. Along with the new design, the Brand Usage Manual is also being launched, with a series of guidelines and recommendations.

"The modernization of our brand seeks to reflect the transformations of the institution. It dialogues with the strategic place that the Foundation has been occupying, nationally and internationally, in the search for solutions to complex problems, and which requires an attentive and committed institution, which moves into the future without giving up its history", says the president of Fiocruz, Mario Moreira.

The vice president of Education, Information and Communication, Cristiani Machado, says that the brand is one of the institution's visual identity elements and aims to quickly communicate, to society, the relevance and presence of the Foundation, with strong symbolism. “Our brand, the Moorish Castle, is well known and loved by the population, especially in the various cities where Fiocruz is present and by all those who use our services. The previous brand was already two decades old and needed to be updated, considering the transformations that the Foundation underwent, expanding its actions nationally. The new brand is the result of beautiful work, which made the Castle even more beautiful and stronger. Fiocruz’s 124th anniversary is the right time to launch it.”

According to Cristiani, it is important to mention other processes that are part of this movement, such as the elaboration, later on, of another manual, that of Fiocruz's visual identity. “This will guide the use of the institution’s main brand and other brands, which will provide cohesion to this entire renewal process and also strengthen the Foundation’s presence and recognition in society.”

The vice president emphasizes that this work is the result of a long debate, which brought together many professionals, especially of design and communication. “Beyond this first update phase, there are other processes underway, such as the discussion of a motto associated with the brand. Later on, we’ll have a discussion of the brands of Fiocruz units. All of this is being developed within the scope of the Technical Chamber of Information and Communication and the decisions were and will be taken by the Foundation's Deliberative Council”.

According to journalist Wagner Vasconcelos, head of the Social Communication Advisory at Fiocruz Brasília and who has participated in the work since the beginning, as the executive coordinator of the working group (GT, in the Portuguese acronym), the Foundation's Communication Policy has a guideline that deals with guaranteeing the integrity of the visual identity and recommends that the management of the institution's brands be improved. Vasconcelos says that in 2016, in a discussion in the Technical Chamber of Information and Communication about Fiocruz's Communication Policy, the need to create a GT to look into this issue was highlighted. According to Vasconcelos, in a survey carried out at the beginning of this entire process, more than 400 brands were identified at the Foundation.

“Fiocruz has a profusion of brands, whether from its units or its internal bodies, such as departments, coordinations, laboratories, programs and others, in addition to various products. There are many living together simultaneously and without strong enough rules so that we don't have problems with the Fiocruz brand. At the time we were unable to identify them all and I believe that since then, with the expansion of Fiocruz, this number may have reached more than 500. The absurdly high number was not the only problem. There were no guidelines that could handle all these brands in a harmonious way, which ended up causing damage to the institution’s visual identity.” As a result, according to him, the recognition in society is lost and the brand is diluted.

Vasconcelos states that the previous brand, created in the 1970s, when the institution acquired the name Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, had some problems, making its application complicated. “There was the design of the Castle, the names of the Ministry of Health and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation and even the institution's acronym (Fiocruz). According to the rules at the time, it was possible to include the names of units, departments, laboratories, etc. This adds new lines to the Fiocruz brand, which weakens it and makes it a blur, as there is a lot of information that impairs readability and identification. With the new brand, we gained much greater visibility.”

He highlights that Fiocruz has grown a lot, including incorporating technical-scientific institutions from other states, which were integrated into the Foundation and brought their own visual identities, which made the challenge of reconciling all these brands even greater. “For this reason, initially the GT needed to create subdivisions, such as one specifically focused on discussing the redesign of the brand, another to discuss issues of communication and community awareness of the importance of renewal and another that was in charge of the rules for the application of brands”.

Vasconcelos notes that each advance was shared with internal bodies, such as the Forum of Communication Advisors and the Technical Chamber of Information and Communication and for meetings of the Presidency and the CD. “We made a strong political articulation, which made renewal possible, within the objective of solving the problems of the old brand”.

He says that the GT surveyed several national and foreign institutions that went through similar situations about updating their brands. Among them Embrapa, Fundação Getúlio Vargas, the University of Texas, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Minho and the London Underground. This included meetings with Embrapa professionals, who detailed the process that took place at the company.

In parallel, the designers involved in the process were making proposals. Some assumptions were crucial: that the Castle, the institution's greatest symbol, would have to be maintained in the redesign; that only the acronym Fiocruz would be adopted as text, removing the name of the Foundation in full and thus allowing the use of a larger font; and that the Fiocruz brand will always be applied with that of the SUS brand, reinforcing the links. “When we test the new brand, together with our partners, the gain is clear and unquestionable”, says Vasconcelos.

“We decided on a version that made the single wire design of the Castle ‘cleaner’ and more rounded at the apexes. Furthermore, the logo was shorter and featured the name of Fiocruz in capital letters. We also responded to the important moment of international expansion of the institution, with the use of the acronym in the logo, which is more sonorous and easier to remember”, details the designer of Oswaldo Cruz’s House (COC/Fiocruz), Cláudia Souza e Silva.

For COC/Fiocruz designer Silmara Mansur, the process required “patience, insistence and caution”. “The Fiocruz brand stands out for being made by many hands. Hands of people who live at Fiocruz, know its history and have enormous affection for the institution”, says Silmara.

The designers explain that the Castle's design was simplified, losing some recesses and details that polluted visibility. “When we test the new brand, together with our partners, the gain is clear and unquestionable.” The GT will now also study a renovation of the facades of Fiocruz buildings.

“Maintaining the Castle was essential, as it is the symbol of the institution, representing history, tradition and credibility”, highlights the industrial designer of the General Coordination of Campus Infrastructure (Cogic/Fiocruz), Eddie Souza. “We were able to create a visual identity that reflects modernity, innovation and Fiocruz’s ongoing commitment to public health.” 

Designer at the Fernandes Figueira National Institute of Women, Children and Adolescent Health (IFF/Fiocruz), Fernanda Canalonga Calçada says she is proud to have participated in the work. “Seeing the result was gratifying, especially due to the synergy between knowledge and technique that our design team used.”

As unanimous as the choice for the castle to remain in the new Fiocruz brand was the mention of the importance of collaborative work, as commented by the designer of the Institute of Scientific and Technological Communication and Information in Health (Icict/Fiocruz), Vera Lúcia Pinho. “I think that was the main factor that made everything possible.”

Vasconcelos remembers, however, that this is the end of the first phase of this long process. There will still be two more to go. “This first one had to do with the design itself, with the Castle being clearer and more objective.” The second phase will be dedicated to brand architecture. “Rules will be established for the application of department, laboratory and other brands alongside the institution’s larger brand. The group believes that these subdivisions should have visual identities. It makes no sense for programs and projects to have their own brands, as they would compete with Fiocruz. For society, it is as if they were other institutions, which creates confusion and loss for the Foundation.”

The third phase will focus on brand governance. Another innovation will be the creation of a tagline (phrase or slogan that summarizes the essence of an institution), which will be chosen by the Deliberative Council, based on debates in the councils of the units themselves.

"Modernization is the beginning of intense internal work, based on Fiocruz's Communication Policy, around the image of the institution. It is a collective effort so that the perception of a modern and century-old institution is reflected not only in the elements graphics of its main brand, but also in the organization and dialogue between the main brand and the different brands of its units", explains Fiocruz's Social Communication coordinator and one of the coordinators of the brand's GT, Pamela Lang. "We still have a lot of work to do, but [Fiocruz Social Communication Coordination] CCS is proud to have participated and led, together with other equally important institutional actors, the entire process that has led us here."

The journalist Elisa Andries, who was the coordinator of CCS/Fiocruz and led the work that began the renewal of the institution's brand from 2016 to 2022, says that everything happened in a very challenging way. “We chose to work with professionals from the Foundation itself, who know the institution and know what is best for Fiocruz. There have been years of collective efforts and I am proud to have coordinated this process that leads to the updating of an icon, a symbol, which is the design of the Fiocruz Castle”.

Elisa highlights that, after the pandemic and the Foundation's decisive role in that period, more people, across Brazil, began to recognize the Castle immediately. “The brand is also a portrait of this element so closely identified with public health.” However, she emphasizes that the change was subtle, so as not to alter a strong brand that is also highly recognized by Fiocruz workers, who built the institution, beyond necessary. “The changes to the design were small and incorporated the name of the Foundation.”

According to the journalist, who last year held the position of head of the Special Social Communication Advisory of the Ministry of Health, the effort does not end with the launch of the brand. “Now it will be necessary to continue including Fiocruz’s technical-scientific units in this change, as they also need to have an identity that is consistent with that of the institution. It will be the unfolding of all this work.”

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