Life Science Leadership

Life Technologies Design Language

Client:     Life Technologies

Creativity + Strategic Thinking = RKS. Atypical of many design firms, Ravi and Lance have brought together a team of passionate, talented designers, researchers, strategists and experience experts that deliver quality results.
— Joseph Lee, Chief Design Officer of Life Technologies

Transcend Life Technologies’ (the leader in DNA sequencing) product designs into a language that projects reliability, accuracy, speed, and state-of-the-art technology



Life Technologies was expanding quickly through merger and acquisition activities, and its various brands were therefore a random mix of unaligned entities. The brands stood for different things and offered different businesses including consumables, sequencing systems and software. To best leverage each brand’s equity, it was essential to integrate them within Life Technologies’ uniting corporate umbrella and branding strategy. The challenge for RKS was to lead the development of a coherent design language across brands and devices to clearly differentiate Life Technologies products from competitive offerings in the life sciences industry.


Developed a global style guide based on insights into the needs and aspirations of scientists and technologists



To establish a holistic understanding of the workflow in scientific labs, the RKS research & strategy team interviewed key stakeholders and scientists in their environments. The analysis of routines, protocols, expectations and aspirations revealed many valuable insights.  In depth personas combined with competitive brand and design audits revealed white space that could position the design language into a leadership position. Our Psycho-Aesthetics further revealed that an inviting, engaging and emotionally appealing design would fulfill scientists aspirations. A war room was established in our facility in which together with lead designer from the client side Larry Tigg, and key design leadership from our side, collaborated for days to establish viable approaches. These were then developed into three design concepts reflected across several form factors and presented to Life Tech’s CEO, CMO, CTO and CDO along with our Psycho-Aesthetics. Two hours later, we arrived at a design direction with clarity and team alignment. From there a 120 page document was created to establish the basis and ground rules for designing the future of the company.


The new design language translates the brand’s revolutionary technology through product aesthetics and interactions



The new design language was able to unite the Life Technologies’ product line cohesively. Its first successful application was the revolutionary Ion Proton DNA Sequencer. Its body was designed to be as compact as possible for bench top use while its sleek, minimal external housing makes cleaning as simple as possible. Ion Proton’s refined, yet simple form enables even entry level users to rapidly navigate the sequencing process through its easy touchscreen interface. Four months after the launch of this product, the company was caught by surprise. While remaining in growth through acquisition, it was in turn acquired by Fisher Scientific for over 15 billion; three times its market cap only a few years earlier.