How it began
I first met with Dr. Simon Chase and Dr. Lee Kenny from Chase Research Cryogenics in February 2020 — not long before the first lockdown. It was a Monday afternoon, and as I drove down to their facilities, in an industrial park in Sheffield, I was struck by the idea that in this building are people selling products to NASA Jet Propulsion Lab.
I didn’t know all that they did at that point — and to some degree I still can’t get to grips with it. I’ve worked with a few companies in the cryogenics industry, but this was an entirely different realm. I was about to learn that what I thought was cold, isn’t really that cold at all — this is when I was made aware of the sub-Kelvin temperature range. Both Simon and Lee are incredibly well-regarded within the industry and scientific community; for 27 years, the company’s reputation and sales had come primarily through word-of-mouth — and it had done them well. They have designed and manufactured sub-Kelvin cryocoolers and heat switches for the likes of NASA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Fermilab, Princeton University, Royal Observatory Edinburgh — and countless more research institutes and universities around the world.
That first meeting really blew my mind. Simon was referencing all these massive concepts around quantum mechanics, the Universe, Helium-3 atoms. When he told me they had a pet tardigrade in the lab, I unwittingly asked him what breed of dog it was. I was so impressed and equally, couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that they were doing this level of work in Neepsend, Sheffield with customers like NASA.
What Simon and Lee needed from HERRON + CO was our design and brand expertise. Simon had founded the company back in 1993 — at the time, brand wasn’t important to his work. His reputation within the scientific community had allowed the business to succeed for years without an established brand or considered website. But with a growing commercial customer-base, and a young team, the company needed a digital presence that would really pay homage to the amazing work they’re doing, set them up for the future and attract new scientific talent.
“Paul had told me about this crazy and wonderful world of Chase Cryogenics. They’re constantly innovating, moving and exploring new ideas. We wanted the brand to reflect that.” — Matt, Graphic Designer at HERRON + CO
What’s in a name (and a brand)?
At the time, their official company name was Chase Research Cryogenics, but on the website they were Chase Cryogenics. We explored the acronym option — it’s a very modern trend used by traditional companies like PwC, and CRC could follow suit. But research is fundamental to what they do — it never stops for them. It’s the pillar of the brand and company. We decided to go against the grain and capture that messaging by going with their full name: Chase Research Cryogenics.
We had this team of brilliant experts that were doing some really mind-blowing work — and their brand wasn’t doing them any justice. We knew it needed to make them stand out from the crowd and show their impact on the industry. Simon had mentioned he wanted to integrate visual elements of the Helium-3 atom as well as the tardigrade, which we began to research alongside the sector and competition.
The process of creating the brand’s new visual language took some time, with several iterations. We had developed, on the one hand, a slick but quite safe, corporate design; it was quite a literal reference to the Helium-3 atom. We’d also had this idea of a ‘moving’ brand and had created this really abstract, creative design based on the Helium-3 atom that we referred to as a ‘wobblie’.
“We wanted to create a living logo that symbolises everything about Chase — being constantly moving, changing as well as being expressive and having personality. A digital design allowed us to do this, and we created the graphic known as wobblies.” — Matt, Graphic Designer at HERRON + CO
There was a lot of discussion around which route to take; we tried to meet somewhere in the middle, but it just didn’t work. It was a case of being safe and corporate, or brave and dynamic — and as a design team, we knew which one was right.
Space-led design for the future
For a company as brilliant and unique as Chase Research Cryogenics, their brand needed to push the boundaries and represent their work – while being instantly recognisable in the scientific community.
The wobblies are a basic form that exist, as a series, in their own visual galaxy. They’re a consistent static design but each one has its own movement indicated by shape — as if they’re morphing and contracting and alive. The idea is that every employee of Chase could have a wobbly that was unique to them — that they can use on all their individual touch-point communications.
“When it came to the website, it was about playing around with visual space to make certain elements and text stand out. But also we have the wobblie in motion over an image of the cosmos; we wanted it to be its own little planet in the Chase universe.” — Matt, Graphic Designer at HERRON + CO
We knew this brand would carry them forward into the future; it’s a visual language that truly sets them apart. It has spirit, attitude, an authentic personality and is a talking point. It’s a dynamic brand you can own, both as a team and as an individual.
And it really sets the tone for the company in 2021 and beyond.
“We got in touch with Paul from HERRON + CO to revamp our entire corporate image, the website being one of its more visible components. We’re certainly pleased with the job that Paul and his team have done for us.”
— Dr. Simon T Chase, Founder of Chase Research Cryogenics
For more information about our work with Chase Research Cryogenics, read the case study
Meet the Client – Dr. Simon T. Chase
Get in touch with HERRON + CO