When the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) asked Real Art to help them launch the largest innovation prize in US military history, we knew the right brand, website, and video could catapult the competition to remarkable heights.
The AFRL leads the discovery, development, and integration of US warfighting technologies for air, space, and cyberspace. This year, they identified the need for an easy-to-maintain, lightweight turbine engine. Aligning with the Air Force’s initiative to cost-effectively accelerate innovation with new partners, the AFRL decided to hold a nationwide competition for the engine’s development—one with a $2 million prize.
The competition needed a brand, website, and promotional video that would establish its legitimacy while inspiring and informing prospective entrants. Real Art set to work creating a visual concept and online experience that would get investors and innovators excited about the newly created Air Force Prize.
We began by developing a brand mark and style that would convey the lofty goals of the Prize while remaining within the visual standards of the Air Force. The shape of a star naturally emerged as a symbol expressing achievement, aspiration, and flight. Formed by an interlocking A and F, the geometric lines of the star also echo the look of the official Air Force logo. The dominant brand color of the Air Force Prize was similarly selected to align with the blue hues of the Air Force’s brand standards.
Once the style was established, our digital designers brought it online in a sleek and punchy site offering detailed information on competition criteria in addition to announcements, media mentions, and FAQs. A subtle starry blue background sets the stage on each page while a chunky mechanistic typeface adds dynamism to the headlines.
But the site’s crowning gem is an engaging video bringing the Air Force Prize’s rules, regulations, and aspirations to life. The computer-animated short positions the Prize well within the pantheon of significant Air Force innovations, beginning with the Wright Brothers’ first powered flight through to the entrants’ speculative engine.
Visually, the video was created to feel futuristic. Across a vibrant blue sky, points combine into blueprint-like constellations forming aircraft and kinetic typography. The constant motion and sense of progression reinforce the Prize themes of building and invention. Subtle cues—like the video’s widescreen aspect ratio—emphasize the epic scope of the competition and its vast potential. Informative and inspirational, the video has already wowed viewers at trade shows and site visits.
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