Why Landscape built a purposefully pared-back brand for civil rights education platform Good & Common
“We want the brand to be memorable and inspiring but we also want it to take a backseat to the information,” explains Landscape’s Ben Bloom.
- Liz Gorny
- 21 April 2022
Good & Common, a free educational platform, has recently launched with a mission in mind to empower Americans to know and use their civil rights. Founded by civil rights lawyer DeWitt Lacy, who has fought on cases of police misconduct and brutality for the past 12 years, the initiative is supported by San Francisco-based studio Landscape, who selected Lacy’s project as part of an initiative to support Bay-Area Black-owned businesses as chance to create meaningful social impact at scale in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd. The studio has since delivered the identity, web design and UX content for Good & Common, in a project which, importantly, required branding to stick to the background.
As an education platform, the very purpose of Good & Common is to translate Lacy’s legal knowledge into actionable information for users. So creating clear, accessible content architecture, spanning text and video resources, that ensures people get the most important information they need, from “Protesting” to “Filming the Police”, was Landscape’s primary goal. Everything else, particularly more decorative branding, had to take shape around this aim. “The intent was to create an identity and platform that felt distinct and memorable, without feeling superfluous, overly stylised, or polarising,” Ben Bloom, associate creative director at Landscape tells It’s Nice That. “The brand also speaks to very serious subject matter here, and so the design system needed to convey a certain level of gravity and credibility.”
Urgency, an obviously relevant element to Good & Common, saturates the brand through a high-contrast colour palette and bold typography. Yet, it is coupled with simple information architecture and user-friendly navigation to “translate complex legal information into digestible content”, says Ben. While the design is kept stripped back, its confidence and urgency “references a familiar vernacular from the civil rights movement — bold, condensed typography and a reductive colour palette of black, white, and red”. Buttons, posters, pamphlets and other historical artefacts from the civil rights movement inspire the branding throughout; in another instance, Landscape drew reference from an “I AM A MAN” poster that hangs in Lacy’s office.
Good & Common’s aims and ethos are perhaps best surmised in the platform’s new logo, which doubles as both a bookshelf and a peace sign, at once referencing the knowledge offered through the platform and its impact. Finally: “We selected the name, Good & Common, because it is universal, democratic, and optimistic, reflecting the long term vision for the platform and belief that this information is fundamental to life as an American,” says Ben. “The compelling thing about Good & Common is that if you live in the United States, you need to know this information,” says Bloom. “Regardless of your age, ethnicity, job, interests etc, it’s necessary to know and understand your civil rights. What we’ve done with DeWitt is offer Americans a real chance to do that.”
While only recently launched, Good & Common’s library of information will continue to grow over the next few months, helmed by Lacy and facilitated by Landscape. Next, Lacy plans to connect with civil rights-centred organisations to build a national campaign structure that ensures the platform reaches far and wide, from policy makers to public schools, local leaders to small businesses, and communities large and small.
GalleryLandscape: Good & Common identity (Copyright © Good & Common, 2022)
Landscape: Good & Common (Copyright © Good & Common, 2022)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, she worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.