I developed the brand guidelines for Prism—the platform that supports all Smithsonian employees with managing their work flow, accessing resources and connecting with each other.
Prism was started by a staff member in the 90s, who also happened to be a Panamanian shaman who was into crystals. I was asked to incorporate this story into the visual identity, which led me to the concept for the mark: a three-dimensional triangular prism.
My graphic exploration began with considering what attributes make a triangular prism such an iconic shape. Fundamentally a prism is a three-dimensional object, so I experimented with simplified flat illusions that would communicate depth, while maintaining a simple form that could be used at any scale.
The spectrum of the rainbow shining out of a prism is a phenomenon familiar to almost everyone. My thoughts always go to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. I considered using color to make this association with the brand to be an important goal, and so I explored ways in which I could incorporate the rainbow spectrum into the mark.
The final form satisfied all of my goals for the brand: it creates an illusion of three dimensions, incorporates the rainbow, and scales well.
For the yellow and blue colors, I matched them to the Smithsonian brand's own color palette's yellow and blue for cohesion with the parent brand. For the rest of the rainbow, I balanced the colors to create a pleasing contrast and gradation. These colors are expandable into other brand assets, such as a color band.