Autolus — A bold digital presence and brand refresh for a world-leading immunotherapy company

Autolus is a world-leading immunotherapy company founded by Dr Martin Pule at the University College of London in 2014. It is dedicated to the development of life-changing treatments that are designed to better recognise cancer cells and break down their defence mechanisms. Its innovative approach to T cell programming has the potential to offer therapies for patients with both haematological malignancies and solid tumours. It has premises in London, Munich and the USA, and is in the process of building a new 70,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Stevenage.

Since its inception in 2014, Autolus has experienced rapid growth and investment. Most recently, a strategic collaboration saw US finance management company Blackstone invest $250 million. Autolus approached SampsonMay to implement a brand refresh and redevelop its website to present itself in a more professional manner – one that reflected its growing status in the life-science sector and was more befitting of a post-IPO listed commercial entity. The current brand and website had served Autolus well during early development and at pre-IPO stage, but it needed to be taken to the next level.
A comprehensive competitor audit alongside client workshops were carried out to objectively understand the sector and identify what was needed for Autolus to stand apart. Online sessions enabled us to analyse audience profiles as well as purpose, values, messaging and objectives, addressing any gaps.
A new colour palette was developed – vibrant blue and green replaced heavier teal and red and gave the site a more optimistic look. Previously a mix of typefaces were in use across different communications – we unified the brand by using FS Emeric, which is a contemporary, optimistic and distinctive sans serif typeface more befitting of a pioneer in innovative science.
The logo was adjusted and refined using the new brand typeface and colourway. The heritage within the existing circular shapes in the logo, which represent a T cell breaking down the defences of a cancer cell, have been retained and adopted as an ‘ownable’ graphic device throughout the site, lending continuity and cohesion.
The images on the existing website were outdated and didn’t align with Autolus’s diversity agenda – especially on its careers pages, which needed to celebrate its flexible and inclusive ethos. We organised a two-day photoshoot to develop a more appropriate image library, one that would support the ONE Autolus initiative, which promotes a flexible, diverse and dynamic working environment, encouraging creativity, leadership and teamwork. We also created a suite of bespoke icons using the new brand palette, bringing to life Autolus’s core values and depicting complex science in an accessible way.
The existing website didn’t celebrate the pioneering work that Autolus does, or represent the company’s commitment to being an equal opportunities employer that recognises how diversity and inclusion are critical to its mission. There were also issues around the existing CMS’s intuitiveness and ease of use, and the site didn’t optimise well across mobile and tablet devices.
As part of our technical audit, the discovery of potential future .NET integrations led us to recommend a move to the Umbraco CMS, which is intuitive and, with minimal training, allows users to edit content and add new sections and modules as required.
Autolus now looks stronger and has greater standout on branded materials, including social, corporate templates and conference communications. We have effectively future-proofed the website so that it is fit for purpose as Autolus continues its impressive growth journey and presents itself as a NASDAQ quoted plc to a broader set of global stakeholders.