Koto renames and rebrands health-tech company Huma inspired by Leonardo da Vinci and Persian mythology

A huge project that took more than a year, the rebrand echoes a new direction in more approachable health branding.

24 April 2020


Design agency Koto has renamed and rebranded health-tech company Medopad as Huma, creating a “warm and human” identity with charming, hand-drawn illustrations by Yu Nagaba. The concept behind the rebrand was to focus on the improved quality of life that consistent health monitoring can provide, rather than the more clinical aesthetic that preventative medicine often employs.

Launched in 2011, Huma (then called Medopad) originally specialised in remote patient monitoring for patients with rare and chronic diseases, but has since moved into a wider range of physical and mental health tech to help patients and healthcare providers spot issues before they develop. “From the minute we first engaged with Huma we knew this was a brand with massive potential,” says Koto founder and creative director, James Greenfield. “Health-tech has the chance to revolutionise the way people are treated globally. We’ve very much built a brand with our friends and relatives in mind.”

Commissioned at the beginning of 2019, Koto developed a vision for the company that could underpin the brand work, settling on a brand phrase of “a world where every person lives their life to the fullest” to inspire the creative. The project involved research, strategy and architecture, naming, design, product and web design, and took more than a year to complete. Talking to It’s Nice That, Greenfield explains that the key challenge of designing for health-tech companies is that work needs to relate to a broad set of audiences – both in terms of patients and professional partners. “This manifests itself with a higher need for trust for both sides of the audience,” he tells us. “For patients our health is universally what most people prioritise in life, so they need greater levels of trust when engaging with brands they don’t necessarily know. On the clinician and partner side it is a traditional space and new doesn’t equal good always.”

Huma’s new name is inspired by a benevolent and lucky mythological bird, which is also a symbol of Persian history. Phoenix-like, the bird flies invisibly above the earth, never resting. Not only does the new name hint at “human” and nod to Huma founder Dan Vahdat’s Persian heritage, but the name echoes the idea that Huma’s technology runs quietly in the background. “We put the meaning into the brand, but at the face level we just want audiences to see from the name out this is human-centred, something that is for everyone and reflect's the company's commitment to working with people, for people,” says Greenfield. “Meaning can be as deep or shallow as an audience needs at a moment in time for them to begin to connect with it.”

For the logo Koto wanted to create a symbol that reflected holistic health and created a marque inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. The colour palette was inspired by the weather, with cool and warm colours for different functionalities, and a clear sky visual as a metaphor for good health. “The colour palette inspired by nature adds a warmth and sense of calm to brand,” says Deanna German, Koto’s design director. “It’s a refreshing change from competitors within the healthcare space, which often feel quite cold and sterile.” The main typeface is a customisation of Victor Serif by Christian Janský at Kometa, while Noto was used for body copy. “Victor Serif was chosen to deliver a trusted feeling utilising the semiotics of periodicals and other sources of knowledge,” says German.

To bring the brand to life online and in the app, Koto worked with Tokyo-based illustrator Yu Nagaba to pen illustrations of healthcare workers, patients and their families, which have been animated by Michael William Lester at Beginners studio. “Yu has such an obviously hand-drawn style, that we felt it really worked in softening the brand in a world of cold UI,” Greenfield explains. “We knew from the off we wanted illustration to appear in the products Huma made so we felt it would help the brand stand out agains its competition, both new and existing.” The result is an approachable and authoritative brand that is able to make complex medicine easier to understand – something very relevant for the current moment.

GalleryKoto: Huma visual identity

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Koto: Huma visual identity

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About the Author

Laura Snoad

Laura is a London-based arts journalist who has been working for It’s Nice That on a freelance basis since 2016.

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