The new face of support
Kids Helpline is a free, confidential counselling and support service for children and young people across Australia aged 5 to 25 years. Since 1991, Kids Helpline has been listening and responding to the needs of children and young people regarding a wide range of issues – from everyday concerns such as relationships with friends and family, school worries and body image, to more serious issues of homelessness, child abuse, mental health, drug and alcohol usage, self-injury and suicide. Counsellors respond to over 3,000 contacts each week – through 24/7 phone and email services and web chat – and over the 27 years have responded to over 7.8 million contacts. (Insights Report 2017)
“From landlines to mobile, websites, emails and WebChat, our service already looked very different to when it was launched more than 26 years ago. […] Unsurprisingly, in a digital age the old style telephone in our logo no longer seemed relevant, but the context of the face – smile, colour, vibrancy – was still very important, symbolising a friend that’s constant and always there as a safety net when needed.”
The old logo was definitely designed for a young audience. The rounded typeface (VAG Rounded) radiated friendliness, and the colours were playful and stimulating. The alternate colouring of the word “Help” made sense as it clearly defined what Kids Helpline was delivering.
The face icon was cute, and the smile was reassuring to those who were contemplating engaging with the service. Now, when the service began in 1991, counselling and support were only provided over the phone, so a landline telephone handset was designed into the icon. It integrated well into the shape of the face and expressed that help and comfort were but a call away.
Overall, the old logo did a fine job of communicating the nature of the service with a style that was appropriate to the target audience.
In the new logo, the face has gotten some extra attention, using similar colours as before but with the saturation pulled back a tad. I like the way that the colours interact with each another in a continuous band and it feels more coherent compared to the previously disconnected shapes. This next observation is a bit left-field, but the band actually reminds me of the waveforms you see when you interact with Siri, the voice-powered personal assistant on Apple devices. The waviness makes the face seem more alive and dynamic; it’s also still cute, although I feel the eyes and mouth are a bit small.
Unfortunately, the new type solution isn’t appropriate for this logo. It’s a geometric, art deco style that doesn’t complement the organic flow of the band around the face, and its thinness makes it colder than before. I’m also unsettled by that uppercase R in the tagline, which has a rather large bowl and looks like it may tip over. To its credit, though, the tagline fits nicely under the name.
The website has also been refreshed, and it looks great. The best part is the set of gorgeous new illustrations created for each of the five audiences. They are cute and engaging, and no topic or point has been spared an accompanying picture. I really encourage you to head over to the website to check them out. As an aside, the website uses Rubik for headlines, a sans-serif font family with slightly rounded corners – perhaps that might have been a more suitable choice for the logo. Barring my niggle about the logo typeface, this is an overall nice update for Kids Helpline.