Driven by the conviction that having more information about their fertility gives people greater control and more options, Modern Fertility founders Afton and Carly built a direct-to-consumer at-home test. It’s the same one offered in many fertility clinics, but it comes at a fraction of the cost and results are easy for anyone to understand.

“Information makes us powerful , especially when that information is ours to begin with.”

Afton Vechery, CEO and co-founder

A path to growth
As part of the growing femtech and personalized medicine sector, Modern Fertility wanted to signal a fundamental shift in democratizing health information, as opposed to just delivering tech-enabled convenience.

This required breaking taboos around the topic, reframing fertility as an integral part of overall health, and transforming it into something proactive rather than reactive. It meant humanizing the overly clinical impersonal aesthetic that dominates healthcare.

Also, as a startup seeking additional funding, Modern Fertility needed their brand to convey a powerful value proposition and dynamic path to growth.

“Early stage startups are just different. We make big bets and we make them quickly.

Wolff Olins took that in its stride without sacrificing the integrity of the design. The design system we built together will grow with us into the future.”

Carly Leahy, CCO and co-founder

Open to everyone
The brand needed to feel inclusive for a broad range of users and circumstances: women wanting to preserve their options, but not yet ready to have children, same sex-partners making decisions about fertility treatment, and couples struggling to conceive. It had to exist as an intimate community, open to everyone.

The visual language is an intentional departure from healthcare’s dated graphic devices. The ‘M’ mark is hand-drawn –  calligraphic rather than mechanical – to convey trust and invite exploration. A fluid ‘u’ is buttressed by strong vertical lines to emphasize a focus on the individual, and reinforce Modern Fertility’s role in supporting people through their fertility journey.

The gender-neutral design is anchored in a color palette of tans and blues, echoing skin and sky tones and symbolic of bodies and moments of reflection.

The decision to move away from photography sets the brand apart from the prevailing visual language in women’s health. Instead, organic shapes and illustrations represent the singular moments people experience when considering fertility.

Scaling a startup
Modern Fertility initially secured $1 million in funding from famed venture capitals firms First Round Capital, Box Group and Y Combinator. It saw $70,000 in orders at the initial brand launch and received extensive press coverage including in TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and Refinery29.

Very recently it’s announced an additional $6 million in funding, as reported in Fast Company and Forbes. We’re excited to see what’s to come!

Nothing is more certain in American life than death, taxes and medical bills. And those bills are generally the biggest source of pain. Burgess is a health-tech pioneer producing the software that will address this.

Founder Greg Burgess is obsessed with improving the accurate payment of medical claims, and he called us as he was preparing the release of an ambitious new product – one that could become the industry standard across the USA.

Having the best product in this field, however, doesn’t guarantee success. The sales cycle is long, cloud based technologies risk being misunderstood and inaccurate comparisons can undermine true value. ‘Big players’ occupy a disproportionate amount of mindshare, and the industry’s beset by inertia, misinformation and mistrust. Buyers often stick with what they have, even if it performs poorly, because change has been hard in the past.

We were brought on board to overcome these barriers, create a new space and ultimately reduce the crippling administrative burden and billions of dollars wasted.

Keeping promises
Only by connecting deeply to people across the healthcare landscape, not just the purchasers of the software, would Burgess be able to cut through industry norms and establish a new standard. And only by redesigning the entire customer and employee experience could it occupy a unique position – as a partner and provider of a platform, rather than a vendor.

We started by developing a purpose that would set the agenda: to help healthcare keep its promises. Focussing on this idea, rather than product benefits, elevated the ambition and encouraged long-term thinking.

Building on this, we created a vibrant, adaptive, digital-first design system that unified product, sales, and marketing efforts. Among the elements was a new device which we called ‘the knot’. It’s a visual representation of a promise kept – the aspiration at the heart of the organization.

We designed a series of tools and experiences that embodied the purpose. With Sales & Marketing leaders, we built a new website, conference presence, content strategy and sales tools that were well received by clients.

With the product team, we collaborated on a user-friendly interface, product demos, the Burgess Source brand and materials to bring it to market. And with HR & Operations, we developed recruiting processes, internal rituals and training materials to energise and equip employees.

“The work was instrumental in our success over the past year – fuelling a high-impact product launch, getting us recognized as a unique player in healthcare, and inspiring our people internally.

It was the best experience I’ve had working with a partner. Their ambition and enthusiasm was contagious, and drove significant outcomes for our business.”

Greg Burgess, CEO and Head of Product

Driving progress
In less than one year, Burgess has already defined a new space in the industry. It’s attracting talent from top tech companies, and has a reinvigorated, entrepreneurial team.

Its Source platform has hit success hard and early. Sales are up in volume and value, there’s more conversation and conversion, and adoption is far faster than forecast.

Beyond sales, it’s attracting the attention of industry leaders, commentators and investors. With a clear story and supercharged experience, it’s one to watch, to work for and to buy. We’re excited to watch it grow and drive progress in the American healthcare industry.

Some founders would be satisfied with helping millions of people get easier access to doctors. But Zocdoc CEO Oliver Kharraz and his team have bolder ambitions; their sights are on transforming the relationship we have with healthcare forever.

Today, tech-first company Zocdoc helps millions of Americans find neighbourhood specialists, book appointments instantly and cut the form-filling. From day 1, eight years ago, the patient has sat at the centre of the offer. The platform is  also loved by doctors, enabling them to spend less time on admin and more on care.

With 600 employees and a recent valuation of the company at $1.8 billion, the Zocdoc team wanted to use their scale to go further. They want to help patients connect across a fragmented landscape and become a trusted centre of care – the digital heart of the experience.

 

“The new face of Zocdoc looks the way healthcare should – friendly, simple, and most of all, reflective of patients and real life”

Richard Fine, VP Marketing, Zocdoc
Fit for the future
We loved their objective and knew the existing brand experience wasn’t up to the task. Zocdoc’s promise to “give power to the patient” needed a system designed from their perspective. It had to show empathy, responding to a patient’s needs and emotions. It had to feel radically different from a healthcare sector beset by complexity, bureaucracy and analog legacy systems.

Seriously lovable
Out went a desktop-focused experience led by cartoon-like characters and a user flow focused solely on efficiency. In its place, we put forward a responsive, mobile-first experience.

Graphically, the design is a marked departure from sector norms. The warm, yellow-led colour palette is optimistic in feel. Instead of corporate shields and crosses, we created Zee – a line drawing of a dynamic letter Z with eyes, evoking an ever-changing face.

By subtly responding to situations in a human way, Zee helps patients feel like their journey is understood, and a true-to-life photographic style mirrors patients’ day-to-day lives. Taken together, and unlike any peer, the visual elements create the impression that Zocdoc is completely designed around patient needs.

Operating as one
Working in an agile way with Zocdoc’s Head of Marketing and Design, we’ve helped create a brand experience that’s caring, smart and simple. It was a collaborative and iterative process, based around frequent sessions with our respective UX and marketing teams.

“It combines the friendliness and aesthetics of Airbnb with the functionality of OpenTable and a dose of its own take on these new visual standards”

UnderConsideration

Everyone played with and tested the system out in different use cases, and critically, real patients were brought into the conversation at an early stage. They were key to the decision-making process, and ultimately chose the most radical solution. Feedback loops between us and the end users provided a basis for swift improvements.

With an experience designed to match their bold human vision, Zocdoc is now a better partner to millions of patients, and puts them in control of their own health.

Introducing The Grid
After developing a series of innovative new products based on customer needs, we helped Virgin Active launch The Grid. It’s a typically Virgin take on trends in movement training, designed to get people moving fast and working as a team. By fixing the activity to a grid of 2mx2m on the gym floor, large groups can take part, burning up to 600 calories in 30 minutes.
Through a series of workshops, interviews and research we created a singular proposition – ‘learn to move the tough way’. It focused the customer journey and inspired a series of neat interventions. From the introduction of the Tough Minute (a killer 60 seconds of activity to raise the heart rate) through to digital sign-in screens and environmental takeovers, The Grid was hard to miss. Launched in 29 Virgin Active health clubs over the first few months of 2015, it made an impact on members and newcomers alike.

 

The Virgin brand gives us a license to be unconventional. With the Grid we’ve created something exciting for members, unlike anything else”

Tim Carter, Group Brand Director, Virgin Active

Next up, The Pack
Following our work on The Grid, Virgin Active challenged us to develop a group cycle product for worldwide launch. With huge potential for integrating live performance data, the already popular format needed a revamp.

We looked at the opportunity from four different perspectives: the users, the market, the product and the business strategy. Our analysis showed that exercise is more rewarding when there’s a shared purpose, yet the Group Cycle experience, despite playing out in the proximity of other people, was essentially solitary. The new product would change this. It would be based on a simple concept, ‘together we ride’, and pit teams against each other.

From concept to experience
We partnered with Virgin Active’s marketing, technology and fitness teams to design the overall user experience. Rather than lean towards the pro-performance racers, we designed for the fun-loving ‘Exertainer’ audience, and created challenges with a typically Virgin flavour – Sumo, Speed Freaks, Hold the Line and Big Burnout.

With concepts in place, we needed to think about how it would play out in the studio. We explored the technical architecture of the fitness product and established the capabilities of the environment, working closely with Virgin Active’s design team and partners, including Deloitte Digital, Hutchisons and Horare Lea.

 

“I am really proud of the product. There are so many complex parts that we’ve managed to pull together smoothly, resulting in an exceptional experience”

Dael Williamson, Head of Enterprise Architecture, Virgin Active Europe
Setting the stage for success
At the heart of the new product sits the Experience Manager – a smart desktop app we prototyped that aggregates bike data into team data, and curates the screen interface, lighting and sound for a multi-sensory experience. Crucially, the Experience Manager does the legwork, freeing up the instructor to motivate teams to win Challenges.
In the final phase of our work, we specified software dependencies and created prototypes to prove that the technology stack was capable of powering a real-time, connected studio experience. We also recommended hardware for in-studio computers that would be capable of running the Experience Manager, while meeting Virgin Active’s price and platform requirements.

In a short period of time, we delivered a breadth of work with a single multidisciplinary team covering strategy and concepts, visual, interaction, game and environment design, software development, IT infrastructure planning, and go-to-market creative. Crucial to this process was the ability to work draw on the expertise of specialist Virgin Active teams.

The Pack was rolled out in eight Virgin Active clubs in May 2016, before riding into gyms across the world to change group exercise for good.

“Working with Wolff Olins, we have created a unique product which harnesses the fun and team spirit that’s so much a part of Virgin Active”

Clare Gambardella, Chief Marketing Officer, Virgin Active Europe

The word ‘cancer’ used to make people uncomfortable. It was discussed behind closed doors, and relief organisations only connected with patients inside surgeries and hospitals.

Macmillan were best-known for their nurses and the end-of-life care they provided. Their behaviour and communications felt institutional, which limited their scope.

But the landscape in the UK was changing. Relationships between charities and their supporters had evolved and it was becoming clear that the 2 million+ affected by cancer could benefit from social, practical support. There was potential for a radical shift.

From relief to support
We made the case that we all need to play a part in the solution to cancer, and in this context, Macmillan wasn’t simply about ‘cancer relief’ for patients. It could be an everyday source of support for anyone affected by the disease.

If Macmillan were to become truly ‘everyday’, they had to find a place within our daily lives. They needed a presence in schools, in workplaces, on the high street and online. We created an expression that would inspire participation from these places. It would feel personal and immediate, rather than institutional.

Getting into shape
In beginning to enable those living with cancer to provide support for each other, Macmillan faced a big challenge. We helped them build capabilities and select the right agency partners. We created an open access making site for supporters, Be.Macmillan, where they could design professional quality materials.

We coached all levels, up to the CEO, to own and live the change. Macmillan’s in-house design team spent weeks at our offices, and our experience principles guided ongoing work.

“The new brand helped us to recruit excellent fundraisers from across all sectors”

Lynda Thomas, Director of Fundraising, Macmillan

Realising the strategy
Within two years of the rebrand Macmillan’s fundraising had defied the recession, increasing by £26 million – a 6% year-on-year growth. They were helping far more people, in more places, than ever before: website visitors had doubled; callers to the Macmillan Support Line increased by 35%; and 50% more people had found the benefits they were entitled to.

Recruiting became easier: one in two people interviewed cited the brand as a reason for their interest, and its relevance led to a groundbreaking partnership with Boots, delivering cancer services on every high street in the UK.

Macmillan revolutionized the way Macmillan supports their volunteer community. There are 40,000 regular users and content templates have grown ten-fold, saving marketing spend and empowering an army of fundraisers.

“We became a completely different organisation, with a much more dynamic and can-do attitude”

Hilary Cross, Director of External Affairs, Macmillan

While this wasn’t all the direct result of the rebrand, the work undoubtedly helped to provide the platform for a more self-assured and assertive organisation.