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Graphic design in humanitarian aid

April 4, 2018

mercy_corps_01The aid industry employs all of the same jobs as the rest of the world, as I was reminded the other day when I stumbled across this blog post from a graphic designer who worked on Mercy Corps’ rebrand.

It looks at ways in which the visual identity has been deployed outside the strict brand guidelines that marketing folks usually want to see – he sounds like he made his peace with the way in which the realities of remote field locations insist on improvisation and adaptation!

Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 11.21.10 AMThis is one of the rebrands that I actually like (three generations of Mercy Corps’ logo – top is the oldest one, very relief focussed, with a problematic cross front and center).

There have been a bunch in the last decade, some that I like, and some that I’m really not excited about. In no particular order, here is CRS’s before and after:

Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 11.32.20 AM


I’m actually more into the old one, partly because of its simplicity, and the fact that the new one uses the acronym and the name (which seems redundant), but a little bit because the ambiguous shape on the left side – that’s a motif we’ll start to see a lot…

Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 11.48.09 AM

Here’s CARE – their old (blue) logo above, the new one below. I don’t know, I really liked the gritty simplicity of the stenciled logo. I get how the visual of lots of different hands appeals, but it doesn’t do it for me…

IRC thankfully seems to have gone the other way, trading their pretty horrible old flame/foot logo for a graphically simple and positive one:Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 1.23.25 PMI only wish they had kept the acronym – it’s much more recognizable at a distance.

Oxfam on the other hand are going in the other direction. Here is their original ‘Oxford Committee for Famine Relief’ logo, a bad rendering (which was all I could find – they seem to have scrubbed it pretty effectively from the internet!) of their old logo, and their newest ‘toilet seat’ logo (once you see it you can’t stop seeing it… ;(Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 1.32.46 PM

Anyway, I got a little sidetracked here, but what I was trying to say is, the aid world needs graphic designers… 😉



3 Comments leave one →
  1. Gibbs permalink
    April 4, 2018 9:24 pm

    Yes, they do…little imagination!

  2. April 9, 2018 1:08 pm

    Thanks Gibbs – hey can I get you to do an interview or a guest post? 😉

  3. May 29, 2018 6:48 pm

    Thanks Gibbs, I was headache with this problem before I chose this major.

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