With a new global energy crisis that is set to worsen in the coming months, and no shortage of debates on the relationship between our energy systems and climate change, the way we power our world has never been a more topical issue. Many are calling for public ownership of energy grids and greater control over this most fundamental of resources, and organisations are starting to answer that call.
Environmental campaigner Greenpeace is one of these, having recently launched Common Power, a new initiative which “aims to shift power away from the corporate, centralised fossil fuel economy and put it in the hands of local communities”. It marks the start of what will hopefully be a swift global transition to renewable energy, and was set up as a way of catalysing that process.
Given the delicate and complex nature of the issue, Greenpeace was keen to brand its new “global energy democracy” project in a way that felt accessible, inclusive and inspiring and enlisted London-based design studio Human After All to guide them. Freddie Elcock, strategy director at the studio, recalls the brief: “[They wanted us to] come up with a name that works globally, and an identity that supported the programme they were looking to start. One that brings communities and citizens togethers to really take ownership of the energy they use.”
As the first touchpoint for the initiative, the right name was crucial, and the team at Human After All felt that Common Power was suited to the task. It was simple, universal, and reflective of Greenpeace’s mission. “‘Common’ is a really nice collective word that’s very much at the heart of this thing,” explains Elcock. The name could speak to the huge array of individuals and groups that form Greenpeace’s target audiences, including NGOs, local community groups, investors, policy makers, and so on.
In terms of the visuals, Human After All was eager to strike a balance between a more traditional activist aesthetic and something cleaner and more straight-edge. As with the name of the initiative, its appearance needed to capture the attention of a diverse range of audiences. “We wanted to be vibrant, catalysing, reliable and impactful, but also more factual, serious and a bit straighter in terms of visual and verbal themes. We didn’t want to go full Extinction Rebellion,” says Elcock.
The result is an identity that draws on the history of Greenpeace and other pressure groups and combines it with a bolder approach in terms of colour and imagery. It forgoes the DIY aesthetic of organisations such as Extinction Rebellion and instead opts for a more polished look and feel, and, in doing so, it finds its place between grassroots movements and professional advocacy – drawing on the power of both to better serve its purpose.