Koto’s Ecosia rebrand catalogues the diversity of tree species around the world

“Ecosia helps plant hundreds of species of trees, so we couldn’t actually represent them all – instead our approach was to show the diversity around the world,” says the design leads. “They had to be vectors and scalable to small sizes, so adding textures wasn’t going to work.” The solution arises in a soft-formed identity, which just so happens to mirror the natural look and feel Koto wanted. “We avoided straight lines in the illustrations,” the team confirms. Sloping and smooth are the best way to describe the graphics now utilised across the brand, with singular illustrations often merging into entire interlocking forest scenes. This illustration style, developed with Adrian, though not super detailed, delivers “complex ideas in a wonderfully clever way” with motion design used to breathe life into the graphics.
From the get-go, the aim behind the project was to broaden Ecosia’s brand from search engine to a more “holistic offer” as the brand is branching out into new areas, Johann and Tim explain. With no strict remit on what could change, and after looking at competitors to see “where the visual equity lied for Ecosia”, Koto landed on two interlinking ideas to guide the work: “Power the regeneration” and “Never Neutral”. Ecosia’s new look is wonderfully easy on the eye with a multitude of growing trees – a concept that also played out brilliantly on another tree planting app brand from How&How this year. Though, for Koto, the approach came with its own set of difficulties.
Koto has launched a rebrand of Ecosia, a search engine harnessing the profit from web searches to plant trees. Working with Adrian Johnson to produce illustrations that visualise the ecological regeneration the brand focuses on, Koto’s creative director Tim Williams and managing director Johann Laeschke tell us about the ins and outs of the work.

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