Human After All rebrands the Climate Group to add urgency to its identity
The London agency overhauled the brand’s visual language to make it clearer, more impactful and confident, at a time when its work couldn’t be more important.
- Jenny Brewer
- 6 October 2020
International non-profit the Climate Group’s mission is to halt climate change, promoting large-scale action through initiatives with large businesses and government. It’s one of the world’s leading brands doing so, through various sub-brands and events such as Climate Week NYC, and yet – at a vital time for clarity of communication around climate issues – the group felt its overall branding was inconsistent. So it drafted in London-based design agency Human After All, whose clients include Greenpeace and HBO, to refresh its identity and to “create a sense of urgency and drive progress around climate action,” positioning the company as an authority on the subject.
“In the time that has passed since the Climate Group’s founding, the conversation around climate action has progressed and become increasingly urgent – so this obviously had to be reflected in the new identity,” creative director Craig Lewisohn tells It’s Nice That.
One of the key aspects to the project was reorganising the Climate Group’s brand architecture, explains Lewisohn. “This turned out to be a fairly crucial element of the project,” he explains. The group had grown and evolved, and the old branding “was no longer reflective of who they are and what they do. Its network had grown and the scale of its operations had increased. We soon realised that while the many sub-brands all had individual character, there was nothing tying them all together. There was no harmony, and worst of all, the master brand was at risk of being lost among all its peers.”
So the refreshed brand identity aims for a stronger, clearer master brand at its centre, delivered in bounds by its simple and powerful symbol, a red degree symbol, used as an anchor for a stripped-back and impactful graphic system. The symbol already existed in the Climate Group’s branding, but Human After All wanted to make more of it. “For such a simple icon, it has a lot of boldness and near universal recognition, so we wanted to make it the recurring element that links together all the Climate Group’s sub-brands and initiatives, of which there are many,” Lewisohn says. The symbol has been recut and optimised for digital legibility and scale, and its red colour has been upped in vibrancy, to add more “presence and urgency” to the visual language. This red was then used to build a palette of secondary colours for the brand.
The degree symbol also appears in animations, wherein it takes on “different states” which the designer says are “inspired by three traits that characterise the Climate Group’s work: Collaboration, Scale and Speed.” These traits were core to the thinking behind the font choice – Sofia Pro, a highly legible geometric sans serif – selected “for its speed of reading and legibility at different scales”.
Lewisohn says pretty much all the changes that Human After All made to the Climate Group’s identity were a result of strategic work the agency did upfront with its client. According to him, they learnt a lot from embedding themselves in the organisation, carrying out surveys and stakeholder interviews, and running workshops with staff, to get to grips with the group and its plans for the future. This fed its new “purpose statement” for the group, itself simplified to be as clear as day: “To drive climate action. Fast.” This was a foundation for all following creative decisions and a rewrite of the brand’s tone of voice, which the agency’s senior copywriter Jess Bashford describes as “simultaneously bold and driven, but also trusted and practical”.
The new brand architecture serves to draw focus to the new “empowered” master brand while allowing sub-brands freedom to have their own look and feel, with ties back to the main identity. “All our creative work strove to inject a sense of drive and urgency into the new brand,” Lewisohn concludes. This, he says, will “transform how the Climate Group is seen, and how it talks about itself”.