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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Accelerating tech progress

The Challenge

How do you build a brand for a new breed of incubator?

The Insight

MIT’s reputation for excellence in engineering, and their focus on long-term solutions, set them apart from other institutions launching incubators.

The Solution

We helped MIT launch The Engine: a “tough tech” accelerator for solving the world’s biggest challenges.

An incubator for solving the world’s big challenges

Traditional venture capital gravitates toward startup investments that show returns in three to five years.

But creating an advanced molten salt reactor to generate clean, safe, low-cost nuclear power takes a little longer than launching the next takeout delivery app.

That’s why the Massachusetts Institute of Technology decided to start a new accelerator to support emerging ventures in tough tech — fields like energy, manufacturing, robotics, biotech, and medical devices. Backed by a $150-million-dollar fund and access to Boston’s innovation network and lab spaces, MIT asked Blue State to help bring the accelerator to life.

Introducing: The Engine

We created a brand identity and website rooted in the hard technologies produced at MIT and flexible enough to accommodate future services. We named the new accelerator The Engine, a nod to MIT’s engineering expertise that positions them as a driver of scientific and economic progress. The structure of the name provides a flexible scaffolding for a suite of sub-brands, like EngineRoom, a tool to book lab space on campus.

A bold, yet flexible, identity

We sought to design a logo that could sit comfortably next to the rest of the MIT brand ecosystem, but also hold its own in an increasingly competitive marketplace. The simple black and white color palette and typeface Helvetica are borrowed from the MIT system to make the two feel connected. The non-traditional gear icon was inspired by shapes and notations on mechanical drawings of combustion and jet engines — a reference to the importance of each individual piece of an engine in making the larger machinery sing.

Building a hub for invention and growth

MIT had two main requirements for The Engine’s website: it had to be flexible enough to scale with business operations and programming, and it needed to showcase the technologies and entrepreneurs. Designed to connect the Boston area to tech hubs across the globe and grow into a billion-dollar incubator, The Engine brand has no limit for future potential growth.