We are family, I got all my symbols with me
Global Sisters is a non-profit organisation that encourages and supports financially disadvantaged women to become financially independent through self-employment. They connect women with the tools, networks and resources they need to accelerate an idea into a thriving business. With a focus on women who are refugees, asylum seekers, migrants, Indigenous Australians, and at-risk youth, Global Sisters aims to provide a path to entrepreneurship that would not otherwise be available. Women who join (called “Sisters”) can access business education programs, a business directory and marketing tools, sales channels (including an online store), and micro loans to finance their business.
Global Sisters believes that by empowering women to become financially independent through small business and entrepreneurial opportunities rather than charity, the benefits go beyond the immediate recipient; businesswomen not only become active economic participants, but also role models and community leaders (the “ripple effect”). (KBB, Smart Company)
With the aim of shaking up the NPO category and powerfully introducing Global Sisters to the world, Sydney creative agency DDI was brought on to craft a new brand proposition and visual identity.
It all began with the logo. Faced with the unique challenge of creating a brand that speaks to this inspiring cause but is also something that looks at home on jewellery, packaging and a slick e-commerce platform, DDI fused a hand-drawn element with a clean typeface. “We knew we had one shot to reflect the same drive and boldness of the Global Sisters concept in our branding,” says Chris D’Arbon, DDI’s Creative Director. “This brand is the antithesis of a charity.”
The new design reflects the hand-made products created by the Sisters as well as the boutique and accessible luxe feel of their online retail platform. It also overcomes language barriers with the globally recognised symbol for women by replacing the ‘O’ of ‘Global’ and the ‘T’ of ‘Sisters’ with a more graphic iteration.
The old logo (by Gloria Chan) featured the brand name in Gotham Rounded Book, a softer version of Hoefler & Co.’s workhorse typeface, Gotham. It was supported by a simplified “female” pictogram which doubled as an upwards-pointing arrow to convey (intentionally or not) personal and economic growth. The circle surrounding it, nothing more than a holding shape in practice, also tied in with the “Global” aspect of the brand. These two elements of the icon complemented the text nicely, with their similar line weight and round-capped strokes.
The choice of purple for the icon was sound; apart from being traditionally favoured by adolescent girls, purple has been associated with creativity, individuality and ambition, certainly qualities of the women who join the program. The significance of the purple was somewhat diminished, however, as applications utilised an expanded colour palette in what felt like a futile effort to broaden the visual identity. Things started to get interesting with the layering of the pictogram with numbers and letters in a brush script typeface to add some energy and quirkiness to the identity (see the coffee cup, above). It would have been great to see this idea manifested in other ways, too. All in all, the old design was friendly and invited an immediate brand connection with its diverse female audience through its recognisable pictogram and unfussy applications.
Look, I really want to like this. I can imagine the “aha” moment when the designer stacked the two words and realised the symbol could be integrated while keeping the text readable, and I appreciate that. But two things bug me. Firstly, the words aren’t aligned in any logical way. They have had to be shifted laterally to accommodate the symbol. I would overlook this if it weren’t for bug #2, the choice of typeface. Futura does not feel at home here. Its geometric forms and sharp corners (as in the apex of the A) are too rigid and mathematical when paired with the organic, human brushstrokes of the symbol. The difference in stroke weight also means the symbol stands out like a sore thumb. That’s not to say the symbol is ugly – the energetic brushstrokes appropriately evoke a spirit of activism and “girl power” – it just disrupts the rhythm of the logo. A better solution may have been to render the other letters in a similar style to the symbol.
The logo is now a darker purple – if it’s darker, that must mean it’s more mature, right? There is no longer a garish colour palette, and the selective use of the new purple makes the applications look more classy and visually connected. The new photography style also shows consideration for colour (check our their Instagram page); it features subdued tones and a greater use of textures and natural elements to carry the organic theme.
A new element in the identity are some “cultural” patterns and motifs. To me, these reflect (and respect) the heritage and stories of the organisation’s Sisters, and reinforce the handmade aspect of the products many of these women produce.
Overall, the new identity for Global Sisters is a leap forward for the brand and shows confidence in the organisation’s cause and how it wants to be positioned. While I felt the logo could have been further developed, it’s still a clever execution that speaks to all cultures with its recognisable symbolism. The accompanying visual elements allow for more variation in the applications than before, and the deliberate photography style more effectively showcases (and celebrates) the work of these amazing women.