The Tech

Reimagining the next 20 years

Identity and naming for San Jose’s beloved immersive, hands-on experiential lab pay tribute to an institution rooted in innovation

The Tech is a non-profit institution in the heart of Silicon Valley, but it’s more than a showcase for the area’s legendary history of innovation. It’s a spirited cross between a science lab and makers’ fair, with a bit of amusement park in the mix. In the 20 years since opening its doors in downtown San Jose, The Tech has introduced leading-edge science and technology to children and young adults throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and now welcomes over half a million visitors each year.

On the occasion of their 20th anniversary, The Tech—which was called The Tech Museum of Innovation at the time—came to Nelson Cash to refresh their brand. The most critical aspect of the work was engaging the staff and board of directors with the insight that the universal shorthand name that virtually everyone uses, “The Tech,” can function as the master brand over all its programs and services.

The Tech aims to empower young people to become tomorrow’s problem solvers—an idea they hope to deepen and expand beyond the walls of the San Jose location. The challenge was to distinguish between the organization’s master brand name (The Tech) and its signature location. To solve that, Nelson Cash renamed The Tech Museum of Innovation to The Tech Interactive, a name that communicates the dynamic nature of both the physical space and the programs it presents there.

We also took the strong bones of The Tech’s visual identity system, particularly the signature “Double-T” of its corporate logo, and developed a vibrant refresh of the visual language. The logo, type, color palette, photography, graphics system, and brand voice are all designed to bring out the infectious energy and iconic moments that embody The Tech experience. We extended the brand’s playful nature by crafting a simple and flexible system of visual building blocks rooted in the principles of STEM and the geometry of The Tech Interactive’s iconic architecture. These elements can be assembled into simple graphic treatments or patterns that are fun to create, iterate, and implement. We built a compositional grid system to develop abstract compound patterns from these building blocks that can live as hero graphics in print, large-scale supergraphics, motion graphics, or background textures.

As The Tech moves forward, we’re excited to see how many more young people the organization will touch with its life-changing programs, and are proud to have played a part in helping The Tech realize its long-term vision.