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BMC – Research in progress

When BioMed Central – the family of academic journals – needed to re-define their brand, and their brand purpose, they turned to True North for their expertise in making brands matter.

The advent of the internet in the 1990s brought great change to the world of academic publishing and the ways in which research was shared. A digital-first start-up, BioMed Central was a pioneer and the first to make an ‘Open Access’ model sustainable. However, competitors were quick to enter the market, offering their own versions of Open Access, causing BioMed Central to become one of many.

BioMed Central was still inventive, but felt that they needed to reinvigorate that original pioneering spirit, re-engaging with their audiences and clearly articulating their proposition to offer a wider portfolio of subject fields for authors or researchers considering Open Access publishing.

Biomed Central was now part of Springer Nature - the world’s leading academic publisher. And, as part of Springer Nature’s ongoing strategy to improve the quality of publishing and author services, there was a requirement for the brand to help galvanise their offer, both internally and externally.


We worked with the team at BMC to reframe their brand strategy – from being focussed on one breakthrough invention in 1999, to seeing innovation as an attitude where they continue to make incremental improvements to how research is shared.

Strategy Director Stuart Barnes said “The brand idea – ‘Research in Progress’ - was built upon insights of how BioMed Central operate, the nature of their service versus other brands, and the truth about how academic researchers view themselves – that most research is small steps forward rather than entirely new discoveries.”

Rebranded as BMC, they have successfully reached into new territories and markets, re-energised product development and now operate with far greater coherence. The visual identity system, inspired by the turning of a page to find out what’s next, has helped build their presence and achieve greater pride in the brand, inside and outside the organisation.


Following the launch of BMC, Rachel Burley, Vice President and Publishing Director at Open Research Group, Springer Nature said “This is a fantastic achievement, we are really delighted with the reinvigorated visual identity and brand story True North created for us and are looking forward to a successful future for BMC.”

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