Recently, I was visiting Cortex, the 200-acre innovation hub of bioscience and technology in St. Louis. I couldn’t help but grin. Dovetail built the brand for Cortex when it was no more than a concept. At that time it was property with old, deserted industrial buildings and abandoned train tracks flanked by Saint Louis University to the east and Washington University/BJC Medical Center to the west. No man’s land. Today it is the home of 4,200 technology-related jobs and innovative programs such as Venture Café, Biogenerator and Techshop.
In 2002, Cortex had powerful founding partners: Washington University, BJC HealthCare, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Saint Louis University and Missouri Botanical Gardens. But the goal was truly a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) – to compete with San Diego and Boston to attract top bio-tech companies to establish their headquarters and start-ups here, in St. Louis’s Cortex.
When we sat with John Dubinsky and Lewis Levey to define and express the brand – they imagined building a technology-and science-oriented community. They knew the folks doing research, inventing new technology and in various phases of attaining venture capital needed to collaborate. A place like Cortex could be that community – with coffee shops and common areas where they could meet and share ideas. With the insight and leadership of John and Lewis, we went to work.
Dovetail developed the original brand essence (logo, graphic standards, brand message) and a series of communication tools (websites, brochures, presentations, signage). We had to tell the story convincingly – remember, nothing was there to support this vision. In fact, the first Cortex building was built speculatively just to demonstrate commitment to the vision.
It is always exciting to help leaders articulate their vision and bring it to life. But this one – I can walk around and enjoy the sights and sounds of people working, laughing and building a brighter future. Can’t wait to see what’s next for St. Louis.