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Design for Change : Brand as a force for good

We’re so paranoid about reinforcing the myth that a brand is just a logo in the charity sector that we sadly rarely celebrate the value of design. Yet it’s a love of design that leads many of us to choose to work in branding in the first place.

At the end of last year, I took my team to see Our bond with brands at the Design Museum. Short but sweet, we were disappointed that it didn’t feature the undeniable role of brand as a force for good.

However, we were pleasantly surprised with the abundance of good across the 76 projects featured in the annual Designs of the Year awards, which provides a snapshot of the most stimulating work around the world across Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Graphics, Product and Transport.

I left thoroughly inspired, with a desire to celebrate and spread the value of design more across the sector and beyond this year, which led me back to The Team who share my passion.

One such example is The Ocean Cleanup, Digital Design of the Year winner, which demonstrates how we can use design to undo some of the environmental damage created by humans.

This ambitious project aims to find an environmentally friendly way to remove waste pollution from our oceans. Starting as the dream of student engineer Boyan Slat, the project gained momentum from his youthful idealism and ambition by using the internet to reach an extensive team of collaborators and funders.

The project dares to jump straight to large-scale clean-up solutions. An in-depth feasibility report has already been produced, and trials carried out to test the idea of a network of floating barriers attached to the seabed.

Whilst we’re on the subject it’s also worth mentioning retail brand G-Star’s RAW for the oceans initiative, which I also love. It brings together brand design, fashion, music, gaming and documentary filmmaking to achieve the same goal, and is a good example of a corporate brand expanding its purpose beyond just profit.

As the Design Museum rightly champions:

  • “Design can transform lives, altering engrained habits or challenge ideas about countries, gender, religion or materials.
  • Designers also respond to our appetite for change by making relevant products. Sometimes, a radical concept, can stimulate a whole industry to innovate and improve.
  • Design isn’t just practical. It also stimulates feelings. Designers may provoke happiness, laughter, anger or fear to grab attention or begin debates.
  • Design can help us explore complex, even intimidating areas of knowledge with a fun, ‘do-it’ attitude, with some design workshops promoting entirely new ways of thinking”.

So as brand professionals who choose to work in a notoriously tough sector to deliver brand into, let’s not hide or shy away from the power of design but embrace it, celebrate it and see where it takes us all this year.


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