Athletics' personable identity for Citrix provides the software giant with the 'space to succeed'
Since being established in 1989 by Buenos Aires-born, Texas-based entrepreneur Ed Iacobucci, Citrix has grown to deliver digital workspace solutions to more than 100 million users across 400,000 organisations. Despite their long-standing success, they entered 2019 under threat from a slew of upcoming competitors such as Dropbox, Salesforce and Slack, to name a few. In an attempt to stay ahead, they approached Brooklyn-based creative studio Athletics with a substantial challenge: “how can we drive adoption as we shift from being a tech provider to a strategic partner focused on the entire employee experience?”
Over the following 18 months, Athletics set out to fundamentally transform the Citrix brand, aiming to inject an entirely new belief system into the decades-old company. Working closely with long-time strategic partner Invencion, they interviewed 50 Citrix stakeholders from across the globe and led collaborative workshops with the Citrix Executive Leadership team. As a result, they landed on the strategic premise ‘the future of work is the space to succeed’, capturing their belief that the full potential of individuals and businesses can only be realised once they’re given ample space to be more creative and innovative at work.
The new visual identity, which translates their strategic premise into the realms of design, aims to feel human, approachable and genuinely reflective of the way we work today through a multi-faceted, multi-sensory approach. At its core is the new wordmark, a lowercase rounded sans that sees its right-hand tittle switched to its ‘x’ in order to subtly symbolise Citrix’s unwavering focus on the individual. “At the onset of this project,” Athletics’ Executive Creative Director Malcolm Buick explains, “the Citrix wordmark was not on the table, nor up for discussion, having been set in stone for three decades.” It wasn’t until the introduction of the new strategic premise that it became fully apparent the wordmark needed to fit seamlessly within the company’s future-focused vision, as well as perform effortlessly in digital-first environments.
The wordmark is accompanied by Public Sans, an open-source font family developed by USWDS – an active community of government engineers, content specialists and designers. Available in 18 weights, from Thin to Black, Public Sans’ design takes cues from neutral sans serif families from the 20th century and aims to work seamlessly alongside Apple and Google system fonts. Buick reveals that they chose it for its “depth and precision,” while it “also provides a nice counter to the softness of the logo.”
Adding a further softness to the new identity’s intentionally-sparse layouts are Matt Blease’s charming illustrations. “Nobody sees the world like Matt Blease,” Buick tells us, “he offers a whimsical but remarkably instinctive perspective on modern life (and work).” Predominantly depicting individuals in working environments, Blease’s drawings “function as a critical counterweight to the more technical aspects of the system.”
Athletics’ collaboration with Matt Blease represents just one of several partnerships the studio established during their mission to raise the “IQ and EQ (emotional intelligence)” of the Citrix brand. They worked with digital design studio CATK to produce custom 3D graphics; electronic artist Simon Pyke on a series of audio tracks; creative production studio Buck on a new brand film; and digital experience agency Huge, who are responsible for Citrix’s ‘You’re Made For Bigger Things’ global ad campaign. As a result of this collaborative approach, as well as the deeply considered combinations of typography, colour and illustration, Citrix has all the tools to cement its position as the leading digital workspace solution.