Thursday, February 18, 2010


Fig. 1: My science is totally Xtreem. (Found by Google image searching "science logo")

Is a lab a brand? Should it be?

This was inspired partly by a post by Prof-like substance on what new TT faculty face, and partly by a conversation I had with a grad student friend the other night. My friend's lab is new (<1 year) and the PI is of the opinion that part of making a name for himself and his research involves developing a "brand identity" for the lab, which seems to consist of a) a logo, and b) ....uhhhh, a slide template?

I know some labs have these things and it can be kind of cute if it's well done (and painful if it isn't) However, I'm skeptical that it has any real impact on people's view of the PI/lab/the research. Plus, this kind of thing takes a lot of time, and while we all have our talents, being able to work Illustrator doesn't make you a (good) designer.

My friend's argument seems to be that just having a good research program isn't enough to rise above the crowd, and you have to sell your science. Which I agree with. Where we differ is in the best way to do that--I maintain that it's just good old fashioned conferences, seminars and networking that takes care of the "selling the science". So I guess it's the PI who is the brand? Not visually of course (not sure my boss' head would make very good letterhead), but their name is important. I just don't think putting a lot of effort into this kind of thing is necessary or even has any impact at all. But I could be wrong.

My lab has a bare bones, totally functional (= up to date) website, but no logo or other distinguishing characteristic, but I have been part of labs that do have logos and color schemes. I don't think this is common though.

So, should a lab be/have a brand?

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