The Circle’s rebrand is a “rallying cry” for feminism

The NGO, which was set up by Annie Lennox, has unveiled a new visual identity created by UnitedUs and designed to embrace a louder, bolder, more activist future for the organisation

The branding marks a clarified mission statement from The Circle, and a new strapline: ‘global feminism in solidarity and action’. UnitedUs has designed a new logo, colour palette and series of circular motifs, as well as a typographic framework that lends the organisation a more prominent, activist tone of voice.

Annie Lennox set the NGO up in 2008, with the aim of supporting women and girls around the world by bringing together a network of women who can campaign for equality.

There are several Circle networks that fall under the organisation’s umbrella, including a group for lawyers, media practitioners and healthcare workers – all of whom bring their expertise to the cause. As well as funding women’s refuges and sanctuaries, supporting domestic abuse hotlines and offering legal aid, The Circle has campaigned to introduce a living wage for women garment workers.

With the appointment of new chief executive Raakhi Shah, the organisation decided to focus its mission statement around economic empowerment of women, and ending violence against them. The language The Circle was using to talk about itself had been developed “piecemeal over the years” says Natalie Burns, partner and strategy director at UnitedUs, and needed to offer a clear direction for its network of supporting women.

“We took the strategy and heard this phrase of global feminism, and our work was how to combine these things into a rallying cry for others that says, this is what this actually means and how you can be it, do it, live it, breathe it, and champion it to other people.

“Even just saying ‘we’re a feminist organisation’ is quite a radical act for any NGO to take – because there’s obviously many different interpretations of what feminism is and what it means,” adds Burns. “That can be quite scary, particularly for funders.”

From the design side, UnitedUs looked at protest placards for inspiration, to understand how to bring “that sentiment of solidarity and strength in a way that feels empowering and is not an anarchist movement”, says UnitedUs creative director and founder Luke Taylor.

The ‘amplified’ typography comes with clear brand guidelines, so The Circle can continue to recreate it without an in-house team. And the “culturally agnostic” circle motif is used as a framing device for photography, in combination with other symbols.

“The conversations people are having in the public sphere about feminism are loud,” says Burns. “People are vocal. But the challenge in the feminist space is there’s tendency for people to be scared of being bold, because they’ll be perceived as shouty, and that’s very much not what we’re doing. We’re creating a brand that’s bold and courageous and radical.”