We spent a full year conducting “field research” at IBM’s Austin headquarters. During this time, we collaborated with different teams to prototype solutions for real products in different lines of business: AI analytics, IT security, and drug discovery, to name a few. Immersing ourselves in these divisions gave us broader insight into how IBM operations work on a global level, and helped us focus our efforts to prepare customized guidelines for a multitudinous brand.
Meanwhile, we dove into IBM's visual archives, familiarizing ourselves with the company's vast visual heritage. The work of legendary staffers served as both inspiration and a starting point: homing in on recurring and iconic traits, we designed on–brand visualizations to act as illustrative examples and future templates for use.
To ensure that our guidelines were reflective of cutting–edge work, we also referenced texts by leading figures in the field including Alberto Cairo, Andy Kirk, Jeffrey Heer, Ben Shneiderman, Elijah Meeks and Dona Wong. And lastly, as is the case with all of our work, we stuck to the principles of "Data Humanism" and sought to impart the message that dataviz should always function to remind users of the people, places, and things that it ultimately represents.