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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