Inventing the Lightbulb: Behind Chicago Ideas’s Brand Evolution


Chicago Ideas was founded in 2010 under the notion that we all deserve to be inspired by the big ideas that shape our world. Curiosity—not income, zip-code, or education level—should be what brings us together for shared experiences that have the potential to instigate real change by everyday people.  


This is the logo we launched with for Chicago Ideas Week 2011.

For almost 200 years, Chicago has been center stage for bringing people together. The secret to its success: human interaction. It’s the driver of curiosity—and the force behind Chicago Ideas. We strive to bring together a community that represents all walks of life to listen, learn, share and act in hopes of giving real change a better chance at being put in motion.

This is the logo you’ve recognized for nearly a decade.


So how does all that lead to the invention of a new brand identity? Step one: Partner with a creative agency who shares your desire to create transformational change. We began our partnership with Havas Chicago this spring, and they’ve helped us shape the brand into a look that represents a lifestyle and the next era of Chicago Ideas, still rooted in the pillars that have always made us who we are, but open to so much more. 


“Chicago Ideas is about so much more than inspirational speakers. It’s about action,” said John Norman, Chief Creative Officer, Havas Chicago. “We are excited to invigorate the Chicago Ideas brand to encourage people to activate and engage with the platform directly all year long to create the change they want to see in their community.”


The lightbulb has always been important to who we are. It represents so much that we will remain to stand for, like ideas, energy, connectivity, and a way forward. With this new look, the lightbulb remains, but it radiates a little brighter with a light that reaches a little further and the power to bring us together. 



Chicago Ideas’s new look. This logo debuted in Summer 2019.

These are the pillars that represent who we are, and we hope our new look is a reminder that we are for everyone and will continue to evolve with this community of curiosity.


Come see our new brand make its official stage debut at Chicago Ideas Week October 12-17. Get tickets HERE.

Vanessa M. Buenger is the director of marketing & content at Chicago Ideas. She is passionate about storytelling and the power it has to change the world.

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