The FEMS Brand – a logo (r)evolution


Our brand is evolving. We want to let you know why.

We are made up of an active and diverse network of around 30,000 professionals who are committed to advancing microbiology for the benefit of society in the areas of health, energy, food, materials, and the environment. Set up in 1974, today we are a growing coalition of more than 50 Member Societies.

To find the origins of our former FEMS logo we go back to 1977, when our first ever issue of FEMS Microbiology Letters rolled off the press. Imagine, this was thirty years before the launch of the iPhone and 38 years before all FEMS Journals became available digitally only.

The world has changed drastically since then; it has moved its focus from print-dominated communications to mostly digital platforms. In 2019, we started looking for a new visual identity. One more effective and better recognizable on platforms such as apps, websites, and social media.

We wanted our new logo to keep representing what we do and who we are:

  • its character should be inviting, welcoming people to ‘get involved’
  • it should show the vastness and diversity of the groups of scientists that we are ‘building communities’ with
  • it should help us to create connections across microbiology and represent this connectivity and show the way that we are ‘investing in science’

The unique design we chose met those two demands – it can be used on all digital platforms and represents who we are – from its shape to its colour.

The letter F is chosen as our main character – it is the shortest way we can represent our name, with the first letter. Because we are a federation, we can connect people from different countries and backgrounds – that makes us unique and should be our focus.

As a shape, the pentagon is found widely across nature, for example in diatoms, cholera toxin B pentamers and other protein structures, and cyclopentane rings in chemical structures.

And so the pentagon in the new logo represents a blend of the smallest aspects of microbiology with the visible microbiological. For us, the pentagonal logo’s finer structure can represent many things, from an abstract group of colonies growing on agar at our macroscopic level, or a single cell, and all the way down to protein structures.

The grouping of many smaller pentagons into a larger pentagon also represents the function of FEMS: bringing many microbiologists, in many diverse societies, into a higher-level type of order and structure. The pentagon also tells about our five pillars: Public Engagement, Education, Business, Research, Policy.

Finally, from a practical perspective, the pentagon provides a structured form that is more visually engaging and recognizable than any circle, and this helps with brand recognition.

The colour green represents nature as well as growth. We endeavor to discover nature and help people grow their career in the field of microbiology. Where functionally needed, the colour can be replaced by white, for instance in combination with the colourful Rothko-inspired Journal covers.

We describe our ethos in two words: serious fun. The microbiology community is serious about science – it also enjoys the fun aspects of it. This is conveyed in the new font: it is clear and has a playful balance between serif and sans serif.

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