While healthcare and mindfulness apps are aplenty, Natia operates at the intersection of the two, with the aim of offering holistic support specifically for cancer patients. The app was founded by John Muolo, a former cancer patient himself, and has been endorsed by cancer support organisation Maggie’s Centres.
The app is designed to improve mind-body wellbeing as a way of coping with the physical and psychological effects of the disease, with support ranging from yoga and meditation to communication networks with other patients. While both medical and wellness brands are susceptible to cliché, design agency Nalla aimed to steer clear of the common tropes in favour of a fresh look and warm feel when it came to creating the brand identity.
“The people behind Natia have real life experiences of the many aspects of dealing with cancer, so the insight they gave was invaluable,” explains Kirsty Tavendale, who was Lead Designer on the project. “This enabled us to approach the project in a way that was different, and felt more authentic – when you have this authenticity at the core you avoid clichés – because it’s coming from a genuine place. As this sentiment formed the centre of the brand, everything we created emerged from that, and this made it easier to make the brand feel more genuine – it backed up the design and the brand overall.”
Central to the project was the logo, which was designed to symbolise the connections a patient experiences, whether to their disease, to Natia, or to the wider Natia community. The icon went on to influence other aspects of the brand identity, including in-app animations and the colourful chain pattern used across various touchpoints.
“The logo itself is soft and curved, and the pattern elements flow from the logo so this gave everything a sense of fluidity,” Tavendale adds. Meanwhile, the agency set out to create a tone of voice that feels “caring but not wishy washy” and communicates a sense of authenticity. “This was all backed up by the real-life experiences of the Natia team. All the brand elements, combined with the tone of voice, enable a sense of compassion.”
While many assets used in a medical or wellness context traditionally revolve around photography portraying real-life scenarios, Natia makes use of graphic design and animations to convey its message of support. Nalla opted for this route as a way of being more inclusive, as it avoids being race- or gender-specific.
“The whole concept behind the brand is that people are coming together to create an ecosystem of support – and we felt the use of shapes and patterns was a good way of being representative of all people,” she says. “The patterns were a great way to illustrate this sense of people coming together and providing each other with support and unity.”