Who isn’t fascinated by outer space? When NASA ended the 30-year-long run of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011, we found ourselves filled not with dread but excitement. "A unique chance to furnish our expertise appeared before us."
In the wake of NASA’s call for privatization of space exploration, we watched a new industry emerge. Evolving regulations and technological innovations were rapidly advancing the progress of commercial spaceflight. Viceroy recognized that this new market was missing out on a branding - to take up the badass, cool, “right stuff” territory. Viceroy reached out to the industry’s primary trade organization, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF), and explained our idea. That concept would become Earth+.
This project, which we took on pro bono, was more than personally meaningful–this was going to be meaningful to humanity. Unfolding before us was a project poised to influence the speed of humanity’s progress.
The magic that once surrounded space exploration had been lost in a mess of engineering jargon that failed to engage the public. With Earth+, Viceroy wanted to bring back this energy and excitement. The commercial spaceflight firms were failing to take into account the long-term value of increased public support. Everything becomes easier with public support. Our idea was to expand the message to the average person and to increase interest in a crazy exciting new sector.
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation was designed as a point of interaction between the industry and government. We agreed that the CSF should continue to function exclusively in this capacity. Engaging the public, we concluded, would require the launch of a separate not-for-profit organization, leveraging CSF’s know-how, industry connections and access to member organizations. This new organization would need a complete branding to make it visually attractive, recognizable and responsibly communicative.
All of the enthusiasts, corporations and pundits–with varying motives and interests in the commercial spaceflight industry–needed a common forward-thinking phrase to unify them. Viceroy coined the phrase that would define, across all disciplines and motives, this new era of space exploration: the democratization of Space. News outlets, the spaceflight industry, and the general public–everyone began using this phrase. It has become an integral component of the discussion. It defines the heart of the interest and excitement for the average person. Now anyone – even fancy marketers – could get involved in space in one way or another.
Viceroy knew that the message of the brand would require careful crafting. If the message was too extreme, people might have a burst of excitement over the prospect of space travel, only to become disillusioned by the reality of the steady but slow pace and lose interest. We had to make clear that average people would not be travelling into space in the very near future. We also needed to consciously avoid the question, “when do I get to go?” Instead, the goal was to get the public to see into the distant future and to champion modest–but steady–improvements which were accomplished not by sovereign nations with vast resources, but by private corporations. Some of these private corporations are huge and well known to the public. Most of them are independently operated small business startups. Going to space. Put that on Kickstarter.
Previously, it had been huge government organizations responsible for advances in space exploration. The fact that (relatively) small start-ups are making advances without government-sized budgets and within the constraints of a bottom line deserves recognition. In applauding progress, the public would provide a stronger base of influence for progress (e.g., policy changes, voting).
Indeed, our language reinforced that Space is not a destination but a journey. The new name had to communicate the reality of space travel without overpromising. Commercial spaceflight doesn’t aim to move mankind into space; instead the industry is expanding the sphere of human activity. From this thinking, Viceroy decided on the name: Earth+ (spoken as ‘Earth Plus’).
Viceroy created the logo as a circle with a slice on one side to look like the edge of the stratosphere–this ‘slice’ is broken in the middle with the brand’s plus sign, implying the movement beyond Earth’s boundaries. We interpreted this logo across mediums and created a comprehensive branding guide. The brand assets were then used to create mock-ups of collateral and high-end merchandise for the public. This included business cards, laptop covers and apparel among other items.
Viceroy managed to bring a sexy, risk-taking, badass aura to an industry that is, at its heart, an engineering discipline. We look forward to continuing to expand and build upon the brand as we launch Earth+ alongside the burgeoning commercial spaceflight industry. Our president sits on the Board of Earth+ as the communications chair in company with illustrious members such as Richard Garriott and Anousheh Ansari.