BASF | Science Academy

Create a branded educational experience to excite the scientists of the future.

MISSION

BASF, the global chemicals company, has an inspiring mission: to create chemistry for a sustainable future. Meeting the growing need for food, energy and clean water — limited resources and a booming world population — is the greatest challenge of our time. Innovations based on chemistry play a key role. As part of its ongoing series of educational programs, BASF asked us to help reach and inspire the scientists of the future with a multipronged educational program they can relate to.

Strategy

  • Brand Positioning
  • User Experience Mapping and Development
  • Customer Insight Research 

Design

  • Logos & Visual Systems
  • Naming
  • Content Strategy
  • Physical Experiences 

Activation

  • Employee Engagement
  • Recruiting & Training
  • Sales Engagement
  • Lesson Planning and Creation
  • User Experiences 

Science is all about experimentation and adventure, which for children can also mean success and failure. To help the kids feel more comfortable with the scientific process, we created Kids’ Lab and the character “MorpH.” Not only does MorpH explain the fundamental science behind BASF’s chemistry, he lives it.

MorpH changes form—gas, liquid, solid and natural state—reflecting the vast array of scientific possibilities within chemistry. Kids identify with MorpH as he reflects their emotions: frustrated when he makes a mistake, excited when he succeeds and confused when something doesn’t make sense.

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More than a simple mascot, MorpH participates in the experiments themselves. For instance, in the bubble experiments, he starts off as H2O, giggles as he is mixed with soap and ultimately floats away as a happy bubble.

OTTO worked closely with the BASF scientists to create simple, hands-on experiments to excite kids about the practical science that happens all around them.

The Water Cycle exercise—a collaboration with OTTO and BASF scientists—was launched in schools globally to celebrate Earth Day.

To reinforce what they learned in the science center, we created kids’ gift items and souvenirs to reinforce what they’ve learned and to welcome MorpH into their personal lives, helping to continue their engagement in science.

“Science Academy” is a sister program to “Kids’ Lab”, targeted at high school and freshman-level college students. With an older target audience, the look and feel of the program needed to be more serious, as these are kids considering a career in chemistry. Key elements, such as typeface and the beaker icon, were used for the Kids’ Lab and the Science Academy to tie the two programs together.

The success of this initiative can easily be measured by its adoption in science centers across the United States. However, the greatest measure of success for this program are the stacks of letters and drawings we have received from kids to their buddy MorpH, as well as notes from the many seniors who are going to college to pursue science and chemistry.

Challenge

As part of its ongoing series of educational programs, BASF asked us to help reach and inspire the scientists of the future with a multipronged educational program they can relate to. The overarching objective was to excite and capture the imagination of grade-schoolers about the science of chemistry.

Strategy

The approach we took typifies the OTTO Brand Labs’ creative process and organic working style to problem solving.  As with all of our projects, we started by thinking about the problem, creating high-level concepts rather than executions. Yes, we still use paper and yes, we share ideas. To us, it is important that all of our concepts grow and expand organically. Ideas inspire creativity. A simple sketch has the potential to grow into something original and amazing. 

MorpH

The centerpiece of our approach to capture the imagination of kids was the creation of MorpH — a friendly, anthropomorphic character who has the ability to change shape and color. MorpH became a guide, explaining the fundamentals of surface and materials science in a uniquely engaging way. 

Kids Lab

The Kids Lab program introduces children between the ages of four and twelve to the world of science. The program comprises simple, hands-on experiments designed to educate and engage kids about the practical science that happens all around them. The playful character MorpH achieved the goal of being both credible and approachable.

Science Academy

Science Academy, a sister program to Kids’ Lab, is targeted at high school and freshman-level college students. For the kids in this older and more educated audience who might be considering a career in chemistry, the visual tone of the program had to be a little more serious. Key elements, such as typeface and a unifying beaker icon, were used for both the Kids’ Lab and the Science Academy to tie the two programs together.

Outcome

The success of this initiative can easily be measured by its adoption in science centers across the United States. However, the greatest measure of success for this program are the stacks of letters and drawings we have received from kids to their buddy MorpH, as well as notes from the many seniors who are going to college to pursue science and chemistry.