Templo’s branding for the UK Anti-Corruption Coalition plays on cryptic typography and distortion
The identity features a bold symbol creating a pointed finger from the negative space in a city skyline, representing the group’s action in holding the powerful to account.
- Jenny Brewer
- 9 November 2020
Britain is considered the money-laundering capital of the world, and a leading enabler of tax avoidance through offshore tax havens, and it is the goal of the UK Anti-Corruption Coalition – the country’s first of its kind – to tackle this. Until recently part of a larger network, the group became independent and needed an identity that reflected the complex issue of corruption, provoked attention, and had clarity, strength and impact. London-based studio Templo has branded the UKACC using visual signifiers of corruption, such as glitched imagery and encoded text, as well as a bold symbol that literally points the finger at political leaders and corporations.
“Corruption within the financial and political system in the UK has never been more prevalent,” Pali Palavathanan, co-founder and creative director of Templo, tells It’s Nice That. “We wanted to create a symbol which represents the coalition’s authority and the pressure they apply to our government.” The clever symbol depicts a city skyline, creating a pointed finger from the negative space, highlighted in red. The colour scheme for the whole identity is supremely relevant to the UK’s (maybe not so) shocking reputation for corruption, using a defiant red, white and blue to allude wryly to the Union Jack.
One of the challenges of the project was “communicating why corruption matters,” Palavathanan continues. “The relevance of corruption and its negative impact is not immediately apparent in the same way as other causes.” It aims to do so through provocative imagery such as glitchy, distorted imagery, illustrations made from financial data, and animated typography that appears to decode key phrases – for example “End of UK’s role as a safe haven for dirty money”.
“Through our ongoing work in the anti-corruption space, we've learnt that it's so easy to hide stolen funds and fraudulent schemes,” says Palavathanan. “We found examples of how companies registered as “Mr Mmmmmm Xxxxxxxxxxx”, whose addresses were given as “Mmmmmmm, Mmmmmm, Mmm, MMM,” which in turn inspired our typographic cryptic messages which decode to reveal the ten point manifesto.”
Another vital aspect of the branding was clarity, not just because it’s a complicated issue but also to represent the antithesis of those it fights against. According to Palavathanan, part of Templo’s brief was to reflect the UKACC’s remit, pushing for openness, transparency and fairness, and part of its approach leaned heavily on ink trap typography. “Inktrap typefaces were originally designed to improve clarity and print quality,” he says. “Using this typeface adds an additional level of transparency and legibility, which ties into the overall concept.” It also lends the branding “energy and edge,” he adds.
The group works with various other organisations, such as Transparency International, Oxfam, Global Witness, in its efforts, so Templo also had to consider co-branding, with the logo often sitting next to those of its partners. The symbol has to hold its own, says Palavathanan, and feel credible and trustworthy, so other brands could “sit comfortably” alongside. Susannah Fitzgerald from Transparency International comments that the new identity strengthens the group’s ability to “speak with a coherent, collective voice and advocate effectively to those in power”. The identity rolls out today on UKACC’s new website, campus signage, printed material, social media, and an AR app where users can play with the elements and brand story.
GalleryTemplo: UK Anti-Corruption Coalition identity (© UKACC, 2020)
Templo: UK Anti-Corruption Coalition identity (© UKACC, 2020)
About the Author
After five years as It’s Nice That’s news editor, Jenny became online editor in June 2021, overseeing the website’s daily editorial output.
Jenny is currently on maternity leave.