Seven Clean Seas’ new identity rejects sustainable branding clichés

Created by London studio 20something, the social enterprise’s utilitarian new look aims to reflect its “hands-on” approach to saving our oceans

An alarming 78 million tonnes of plastic packaging flows into our oceans every year, according to the latest figures from the World Economic Forum. This is the equivalent of pouring a garbage truck’s worth of plastic into the oceans every minute.

Thankfully, as the climate consciousness movement gains momentum around the world, a new wave of organisations are leading the way when it comes to cleaning up our oceans and coastlines.

Founded in Singapore in 2018, Seven Clean Seas is best known for developing one of the world’s first plastic-offsetting services, where people or companies who can’t avoid using plastic can commission the organisation to recover the same weight of plastic from the ocean on their behalf as an offset.

“Seven Clean Seas started out as a real passion project for me and my wife, Pamela Correia,” says Tom Peacock-Nazil, the social enterprise’s founder. “We moved to South East Asia back in 2013 and the region’s struggle with plastic pollution was immediately evident.”

Three years on, the team’s operation spans five countries, and it has mobilised over 3,800 volunteers who have attended 1,287 beach clean-ups to date.

As the social enterprise’s remit and need for funding continues to grow, it approached London-based studio 20something to develop a new brand identity that would match its ambitions.

“We worked with Seven Clean Seas to create their brand proposition: sea cleaners creating permanent change in the world’s worst affected places,” says 20something creative director, Will Thacker.

“With their values front and centre of the brief, we wanted to create a brand that referenced their transparency, commitment to hands-on action and the serious impact they make on the world, while being able to flex between corporate reports and presentations to social media and aspirational product lines.”

The utilitarian identity centres on a single marque based on the shape of ocean currents. Formed on a basic grid structure, the logo can be manipulated into various marques that symbolise the different areas of the business, including its conservation efforts and educating new generations about plastic pollution.

CoType Foundry’s Aeonik is used as the principal brand typeface, and is designed to work across everything from corporate reports and presentations to social media posts and even workwear gloves.

In a clear departure from the social enterprise’s previous branding, which used blue as its core brand colour, the new identity features a near-neon-yellow and black colour palette, inspired by the aesthetic of hazard signs and high-vis workwear.

A new social media toolkit is also designed with functionality in mind, given that much of the organisation’s social content is created while they are in the middle of clean-ups.

“Simplicity and functionality affected every design decision we made, this is a very hands-on business and we knew the team needed a usable toolkit to help them keep talking to a growing audience,” says Thacker.

Overall, it’s an approach that runs counter to the tide of aquamarine, surf-inspired ‘for-oceans’ brands. For Thacker, moving away from the eco-clichés that used to dominate sustainable branding could play an essential part in encouraging the wider fight against climate change.

“With the growth of global eco-consciousness comes a new generation, one taking responsibility for their impact on this earth and fuelled by change. Social and environmental responsibility has become a part of our identity, badges to adorn ourselves with,” says Thacker.

“As larger brands and multinational corporations look to partner with sustainable companies, it’s in the best interests of those sustainable companies to present themselves in the best light with progressive, modern branding. There is no reason why they shouldn’t look as good as the coolest brands out there.”

20-something.com

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Milton Keynes