This week, the United Nations issued its summary of the Global Biodiversity Assessment, finding that due to deforestation, over fishing, pollution, and a host of other human activities, one million species are at risk for extinction. There two clear takeaways from the assessment: Humans are both the problem and solution for the protection of animals, the Earth, and ourselves.
At the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), we have understood this for 50 years. In fact, our very first campaign, to end the commercial seal hunt in Canada, focused not only on decision makers but on everyday people. We urged consumers to steer clear of seal products, and with our iconic Save Our Seals campaign, we were ultimately successful.
We believe that individual animals matter at IFAW, but we also believe that individual people matter. If we can inspire one person to call in a poaching tip or skip the plastic bag at check out, that’s worth it.
Globally, with more species facing extinction than ever before, we know we need to reach more people than ever before. So [early last year], looking ahead to our 50th anniversary, we talked about how we might build our movement, and the need for a new brand to help us get there.
IFAW’s CEO Azzedine Downes had long held the vision and knew it was the right time to make the critical investment. He knew that if we need to change human behaviour, then we need to meet humans where they’re at. Our old logo and website no longer sufficed.
A few months later, we partnered with Base Design, an international design agency that has worked with clients including JFK Terminal 4, The New York Times, Wellesley College, Fondation Louis Vuitton and the Museum of Modern Art, to help us.
We started with an extensive discovery and immersion phase, in which we conducted interviews with internal and external stakeholders, partners and donors. Our goals were well-defined: clearer communication of IFAW’s unique position; enhanced awareness and greater understanding of IFAW and its work.
We also conducted market research to find opportunities in animal welfare and conservation sectors. By and large, storytelling was completely missing from these sectors. Not just about the animals we save but the people who do the work. This was a gap that we knew we fill easily because, in every capacity, people are a vital part of our success. And in the end, we developed a brand that’s like us – bold, compelling, and driven by stories. At the centre of this brand is the core concept of “animals and people thriving together.” Because IFAW protects animals but IFAW is people.
The typography of the new logo is bold but using lowercase shows IFAW is accessible as an organisation. By underlining the “a,” the logo emphasises that all the work IFAW does centres on animals. The website features both immersive stories and compelling imagery. We’ve found that photography is powerful way to share IFAW’s approach, resourcefulness and impact. The art direction captures the on-the-ground, raw, and active spirit of our work.
At the same time, our new brand is not just about a new look, it’s about a new approach. We can’t bring one million species back from the brink of extinction alone. IFAW is willing to work with anyone, anywhere to solve these problems. So, we are using our digital platform and leveraging social influencers to connect with people all over the world, from activists who are interested in the environment and parents who are interested in a better future for their children.
This is a natural extension of what we’ve been doing over the last fifty years. From our Cape Town office, for instance, we have focused on changing the behaviours of everyday people across Southern Africa. We have mobilised local communities to help law enforcement officers stop poachers. We have educated neighbours of critical habitats on how to best to preserve landscapes. And in one community on the edge of a national park, we installed a water supply system to cut down on human-wildlife conflict.
Now, we that we have a clear, captivating brand, we can do even more.
Brands can change behaviour, and in doing so, can change the world. Uber changed how we get from Point A to Point B. Airbnb changed where we stay when we’re visiting Table Mountain or Jo’burg. Netflix changed how we watch television shows and movies. And with this new brand, IFAW can change how humans care for other species and the places we call home.
Alexandra (Alex) Osorio is a senior marketing and communications strategist based in New York. She is the co-founder of something or other – a boutique marketing consultancy – and currently serves as the interim Vice President of Brand Communications and Marketing at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). She pioneers multi-channel communications and marketing strategy (from creative to execution) that drives business impact for non-profits and for profits alike. Her passion is bringing cause to culture for greater awareness and action.
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