By Reena Jana
Posting in Design
A jury that includes Nobel Laureates and international leaders has just chosen ten finalists in a competition to create the first logo for human rights. What design lessons do the finalists offer?
A stellar jury that includes five Nobel Peace Prize winners, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay has chosen ten finalists for a competition to create the first logo for human rights. They were announced on August 27.
Here's a video of jury member Aung San Suu Kyi, 1991 Nobel Laureate, briefly discussing why she believes this design competition is important:
The competition is run by a non-profit organization (Logo for Human Rights), with support from partner countries that include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Germany, Mauritius, Senegal, Singapore and Uruguay. The Logo for Human Rights initiative lists Google as a partner as well (among other organizations). You don't have to be a diplomat or business leader to vote for the winning symbol; a popular vote will determine the winner. You can vote online here.
The design that gets the most votes will be unveiled at the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 23. The final logo can be used by any person or group, free of charge. A human-rights NGO, for instance, could include it in its promotional materials.
What can be learned from the ten finalists, chosen by the jury of luminaries from a wide variety of nations? Although the logo designs aren't meant to be commercial, some of their characteristics could be used by symbol designers in various industries and non-profits, too. After all, the designers competing to create the logo for human rights sought to craft an image with powerful and instant legibility to people of all backgrounds, ages, and nationalities.
Here are some trends:
All of the ten finalist logos consist of extremely simple visual vocabularies, and nine out of ten use only a single color, suggesting that keeping color choices ultra-streamlined is an effective logo strategy.
Consider this one:
Five feature stripped down renditions of human figures, with dots as heads and lines as limbs, suggesting that a minimal style can have maximum impact. Consider this one:
Three feature an already widely-recognized symbol of peace--a dove--suggesting that referencing an already-known, popular icon (with no trademark issues, of course), can achieve instant readability across demographics and cultures.
Consider this one:
See all of the ten finalists (and vote) here.
All images: Logo for Human Rights
Aug 27, 2011
There is nothing wrong with the logo used by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). It is one of the most recognizable logos in the world so why would anyone want to change it? Oh, I get it, HRC just supports too many rights for gays and lesbians. Not so smart planet I think.
I'm all for good design, but there's something about the mindset of the academics who populate these organizations that honestly believe that if they could just express the right image, the hard work will just take care of itself. This vividly reminds me of "Rebuild LA", an organization that was conceived to literally "rebuild LA" after the riots of '92. (which were remarkably similar to the riots of formerly Great Britain only a few weeks ago) Their first order of business was to come up with a logo to represent the organization. After literally months of debate, work, and millions of dollars spent (just on the logo), they finally presented their logo to an eagerly anticipating public. But apparently conceiving the logo consumed all of the energy and ideas of this organization, and they disappeared soon thereafter with nothing more than a since forgotten logo to show for their efforts. Lesson: Creating logos is nice. But they hardly mean very much without something substantial and believable standing behind them. But then again, this is no more silly that changing out the traditional blue peacekeeper helmets for green ones so that people suffering oppression and genocide will consider the more pressing issue of "global warming". If you are living under a repressive regime where you consider the UN your only hope, you have far bigger problems than the color of a helmet or a logo on some letterhead.
The only way the UN can prove it is serious about human rights is when the Human Rights Commission stops being a revolving door of despots. Current and recent members include such great bastions of human rights as Iran, Libya, China and North Korea.
The HRC logo, two yellow stripes on a blue background, is trademarked by the HRC. It also conveys nothing. From a design perspective, it's simple, but ineffective. It's simplicity and ineffectiveness are demonstrated in that sight of the logo does not produce instant recognition of the organization. Effective logos immediately identify an organization and/or what it is about. We all know the red cross logo. We all recognize the Coca-cola wave. We all know the Nike swoop. The HRC logo is not well recognized at this time. Because of this, it's logo represents nothing. How does one tie two horizontal yellow bars on a blue background to human rights? So this gives us an opportunity to create a new logo who's purpose is instantly and easily recognizable. And honestly, I'm not seeing anything here that meets the mark, and little at http://www.humanrightslogo.org that fits the mark.
Are you saying that fine upstanding organization called the UN would refuse to support an movement that supports human rights for all?
The HRC logo is distictive and well known around here. But this is Massachusetts that cares about human rights.