In-HOWse Best of Show Winner

Prism Awards, in-howse design awards best of show winnerPrism Awards, in-howse design awards best of show winner

A technology organization’s in-house design team initiates a complete brand overhaul for their annual awards that not only looks good, but nearly doubles revenue.

This year’s Best of Show winner took judges by complete surprise as they waded through the Technology & Science category of the In-HOWse Design Awards (see more award-winning In-house design work in the January 2012 issue of HOW). The winning entry—a total identity refresh for The Prism Awards, an international competition that recognizes innovation in photonics—shows that in-house designers are in a unique position to create ripples in their organization by recognizing a design need and selling their ideas to the stakeholders. And as a result, they have true power to generate big buzz for their business, like this year’s winner did.

Bryan Hintz, lead designer for The International Society for Optics and Photonics, a membership society that serves engineers and scientists around the world with conferences, exhibitions, scientific and technical publications, and The Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation, knew that the old identity for The Prism Awards was in desperate need of an overhaul. Hintz art directed the process, which started with the logo and evolved into a comprehensive identity refresh including promotional materials, the tangible awards, print collateral, the website and environmental graphics for the prestigious awards show.

“After bringing to stakeholders the idea of a redesign, we were soon able to agree that the original logo was outdated, limited in application and cumbersome in usage,” Hintz says. “Together, we recognized a need for the logo and its representation to be redesigned to position The Prism Awards as innovative, up-to-date and appealing—a prestigious, sought-after award.”

The results speak for themselves. Entries nearly doubled since the new identity was unveiled. In addition, SPIE solidified a stronger alliance with its media partners and was approached by several companies requesting to sponsor the event (which the organization declined). A German news agency began referring to The Prism Awards as “The Photonics Oscars.”

Prism Awards Logo before and after


“It totally modernizes an outdated identity and uses color to create a sense of energy and innovation,” says judge Megan Patrick, HOW’s content director. The new look took a modern spin on the name of the awards—prism—a transparent solid body, often having a triangular base, used for dispersing light into a spectrum (rainbow), or for reflecting rays of light. The logo and crystal award were designed using the definition of “prism,” but with simplicity in mind.

“You always see a prism with all the colors of the rainbow sitting next to one another. But instead of using a cliché rainbow, they separated them,” notes judge Allison Smith, HOW & Print’s associate designer. The new iteration of the logo drops the sprawling rainbow seen on the outdated, old logo and instead utilizes simple color bars and elements, with interchangeable rainbow colors differentiating each of the nine categories in several various applications.

Hintz notes that implementing such a widespread change across an organization, especially one that’s not-for-profit, has its challenges. He often initiates projects to improve design as an in-house creative. “This was the case with the Prism Awards, where I recognized the need and approached the internal stakeholder,” Hintz says.

“In the very early stages of the logo design, it took just a bit of selling,” Hintz adds. “But overall, it has not only been very well-received, but also very supported and backed by the client. It’s something people are proud and enthusiastic about.”

Title The Prism Awards | Company The International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), Bellingham, WA; | Creative Director/Lead Designer Bryan Hintz  | Marketing Manager Pamela Robertson | Graphics Support SPIE Graphics Department | Event Production Jenifer Bennett, Troy Peters | Executive Support Peter Hallett, Eugene Arthurs | Printer Premier Graphics; Tegan Cutler, print consultant