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Studio Dumbar rebrands Alzheimer Nederland

Graphic Design

Posted by Patrick Burgoyne, 8 October 2012, 10:15    Permalink    Comments (15)

Studio Dumbar recently completed a typically vibrant new identity scheme for Alzheimer Nederland. The studio talk us through the thinking behind the work

 

 

CR: Why was the decision taken to rebrand Alzheimer Nederland? What were the key elements of the brief?

SD: "The previous identity [above] was rather grim-looking. The basic colour was dark green and the symbol was a tree that was partly without leaves, a few bare twigs. The meaning was unclear. And more important: most people thought of it as a negative symbol."

 

CR: What research did you do for the project?

SD: "Alzheimer Nederland researched the identity. Besides the negative connotation with the previous symbol, it also showed that only a few people knew it or related it to Alzheimer Nederland. Our own research focused on the visual behavior, communication and use of symbols of Alzheimer-related organizations around the world and comparable NGOs in the Netherlands."

 

Various Alzheimer charity logos from (from top) the UK, US, France, Australia and Belgium

 

 

CR: Can you talk us through the key elements of the identity and why they were felt appropriate, particularly the 'vanishing point' idea? [See video above]

SD: "The vanishing point in the typography is the most crucial element of the whole identity. They are used as a layer on all communication media. The words and phrases are legible, but not at first instance.

People immediately feel the meaning of it, because Alzheimer is an afwul process in which you lose grip of reality around you. Words enable you as a person to communicate with other people, and the world. They are your main tool to connect to everything around you. If this tool slowly vanishes, your whole connection with the outside world vanishes. This exactly the effect of Alzheimer's. In an average of seven years, people loose touch completely and finally die.

The main challenge was to refer to this harsh reality, but at the same time create an identity that has a sense of positivism. After all, the objective of the whole redesign is for Alzheimer Nederland to raise more funds. Only scientific research can bring the prospect of a solution to the disease and the foundation is very ambitious in its target to raise research budgets. For this, it needs to have more impact.

For the colour palette, a number of bright colours have been selected. They add a lively element and moreover, people with Alzheimer are able to register bright colours much better. The editorial typography and layouts are clear and straighforward.

The photography uses the element of time, an essential factor in Alzheimer. It shows people in a sequence of shots instead of only one photo. A secondary advantage of this approach is, that it avoids the discussion if people either look either too happy or too sad; you can use different shots."

 

CR: What are the typefaces used?
SD: "For all headlines and vanishing point typography we used Raisonne AN by Benjamin Critton, Colofon Font Foundry and MT Plantin by Robert Granjon for all body text."

CR: What kind of reaction has the project has had so far?

SD: "The response from the circle of patients, relatives and volunteers was heartwarmingly positive. This was quite a challenge because people who are involved with the disease and the patients are not primarily interested in design. That made us very happy. It means we reached the 'double happiness' we're always aiming for: the strategic objectives of the client are achieved with a design-concept that is full of power and beauty."

See more of Studio Dumbar's work here

 

Alzheimer's is such a difficult, sensitive subject that creating an identity for an organisation dealing with the issue and getting the tone right must be very tricky. Not only do you have to communicate to those who either themselves have the condition or who have relatives affected by it, you also have to energise staff and volunteers and attract funds. As the examples from other countries above show, most tend toward images of support while both the French logo and the previous Dutch mark employ the somewhat clunky metaphor of falling leaves to suggest the gradual onset of dementia.

Studio Dumbar's vanishing point is also quite an obvious allusion but it is executed with typical panache and verve, especially in motion. The use of photography in the supporting literature and on the website (below) is particularly strong. The main logotype, with its combination of the 'a' mark and charity name, ensures that there is no doubt what this mark is for (which supposedly was a problem with the old one) and rids the organisation of the dull, institutional feel that afflicts many charities in this area. This feels like an organisation with a positive, energetic approach to tackling one of the most challenging conditions of our times.

 

 

 

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15 Comments

I think, in the selection of logos above, you might have missed the excellent new identity for Alzheimers Australia that Interbrand Australia designed and launched last year:

http://www.standapart.com.au/index.php/alzheimers-australia-rebrand
Ed Wright
2012-10-08 12:51:21


Sensitive application of good idea driven design. Well done!
Dan Mawdesley
2012-10-08 16:07:59


Love it!
Ben L
2012-10-08 17:30:36


@Ed. No it isn't. The logo or identity doesn't say anything about alzheimer. Its a (bad)campaign logo to fight it.
oh, yeah.. the G has an arrow. 'Why?'

Dumbars work is outstanding!
John
2012-10-09 10:55:34


@ Ed Wright, I'm not sure how excellent the identity for Alzeimers Australia is. Its a ubiquitous looking exercise in putting the same typographic treatment on as many things as possible. I could actually be for anything, and almost suggests that Alzheimers is a somewhat militant possibly environmental political movement.

Studio Dunbar's Alzeimer Nederland, is subtle but memorable and manages to illustrate the delicate theme of memory loss using a unique typographic system. Others may query how relevant, the "designy" crops and overlays in the editorial work are to a cause like this. The fact is that this is what Dutch deisgn is like, audiences are accepting of subverted and sometimes illogical design. They are made to work for the message. In the UK graphic design is spoon fed.
Tom
2012-10-09 11:06:47


Hello, well, I just wanted to point out that the 'various Alzheimer charity logos' shown was a bit misleading in implying that other charities were all outdated/boring.

I like the proactive stance of Interbrand's campaign, and its purpose in bringing to the fore the fight against (as oppose to succumbing to) alzheimers.

Studio Dunbar's work is very good-looking, but I agree with Tom in that it is very 'designy'. Are images of confused looking elderly people and a typeface that suggests vanishing memories really a positive message? By making a typeface less legible, is that not a cruel trick on people possibly already struggling to read and comprehend.

"The words and phrases are legible, but not at first instance." Did no-one think that's a pretty bad idea for the end user?
Ed Wright
2012-10-09 13:05:15


I agree with you Ed.

Personally I can't see any positive message within this identity. The aesthetics are very interesting, but ultimately the idea is focused on the negative aspect of the illness.
Richard
2012-10-09 13:30:19


I agree with both Ed and Richard, hard to see the positive in the fading type = memory loss.
Saul
2012-10-09 16:28:35


Dumbar work is about understanding alzheimer. It's a process.
Why does the ident needs a positive message?? Please no! There is nothing positive about it.
It's a disease that needs explanation to understand how it develops. The Ident does that

Not a fist with a heart in it.
Jay
2012-10-09 16:46:55


I totally agree with you Jay, the whole fist & heart thing would be the wrong approach.

In answer to the first question around the key elements of the brief, Dumbar highlighted the importance of changing the negative connotation of the previous symbol.

In my opinion, although the identity looks so much better, the idea still communicates a negative message.
Richard
2012-10-09 17:34:19


Charity identities always stir up a good debate.

I recently finished an MA and my final project was a visual study of the identity and branding techniques used by this sector. It is an incredibly competitive area, (there are over 160k in the UK and around 20% of those have revenues streams in the £M's), and the strength of a good identity is no different to to any other industry. I was staggered to hear as part of my research a very well known charity talking quite openly about 'owning an illness'. At the time I thought a rather distasteful remark but by the end of my study I understood the rationale as they are all competing against one another for the charitable pounds and pennies in our wallet.

(For me) Why this identity works is it provides the organisation with a strong and intelligent profile. It is positive and forward thinking. It is realistic and - to a point - practical. (I say that because it works much better as a motion graphic than a static.) Much of a charities role is to educate the general public, obvious I know, but in my research I found so many were just talking to themselves. I wish more organisations would take this sort of intelligent approach. This idea is a strong reflection of the organisations own awareness of its identity, the point of its purpose and its principles.

A rather longwinded way of saying . . . I like it.
Ray
2012-10-09 17:56:13


We also have to keep in mind that charities operate in very different ways to one another. Some are very service-based (or deal with the 'deployment' side) and some are hardcore fundraisers; and a lot have to do both. Just because something is a charity doesn't mean that it have to play the sympathy vote, or on the other hand be sympathetic to the people using a service—different focusses, and possibly different faces for different types of stakeholder.
Toby
2012-10-09 22:55:22


I completely agree with Jay, there is nothing positive about this horrific disease so I don't see why the charity should have to adopt a 'positive' stance. Proactive yes, but not positive.
Nicola
2012-10-10 10:24:43


This is brilliant work, some of the best i've seen on recent months.
Mark Roberts
2012-10-11 15:11:17


Look great - but can't see how Dumbar can comment on the previous being a negative symbol when they have portrayed the same negativity.

I always thought organisations like this would rather portray the positives of the company rather than the negatives of the disease.
Matt
2012-10-12 10:25:26


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