On this year's International Day of the Girl Child, we unveil the new With and For Girls brand logo. Over the past few months, we've engaged in a process designed to have direct input from young women and girls at a number of points along the way - those who have been part of the awards process as girl panelists, as well as those from the winning organisations.
But, as with all aspects of the collaborative process, there were also the eight partners of the collective to take into consideration. All the members of the With and For Girls Collective share a common belief: that girls are agents for change. Yet as independent organisations we have very different aims, values and structures.
The With and For Girls Collective is a group of eight funders who have committed a combined US $1million to run an awards initiative recognising strong locally-led grassroots organisations working with and for girls. This November, twenty winning organisations will be awarded up to US$50,000 each in flexible funding and capacity building support.
Taking the decision to create a unifying brand came easily. Since the Collective’s inception in January, producing external materials has proved quite the headache, often resulting in a mishmash of different logos sprawled across a header.
But beyond this basic functional need, we wanted our brand to mean something: providing a powerful icon that told the story of the Collective and what it has achieved - working together to successfully identify strong locally-led organisations working with and for adolescent girls.
Critically, the awards will amplify the voices of those less often heard – the voice of girls and locally-led development. These organisations will also act as a beacon of effective practice, positive proof of the enormous potential girls and the local organisations that support them have in empowering girls and young women.
“Empowerment of and investment in girls are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights” - United Nations Resolution 66/170
Girl participation is at the heart of this award. Indeed, the final stage of the 2015 awards process was conducted through five regional interview panels made up of adolescent girls giving girls final decision-making power over the choice of winning organisations.
Therefore, it seemed contradictory to create a brand that did not follow this participatory framework and girl-led ethos. And so we embarked on a process that enabled all stakeholders to input into the brand and involved girls in a meaningful way.
We began by creating a Brand Working Group which took responsibility for writing the brand brief. This was signed off by the funding partners and went to the design agency, Cog.
Questions were asked about the extent to which girls should be involved. We decided to consult with the girl panellists at the end of the judging process. By this point they’d seen the full range of organisations working across the globe on a variety of issues, so were able to advise on how a logo could portray the broad spectrum of organisations interested in the With and For Girls Award.
The panellists completed a questionnaire which had been translated into local languages. In total we asked 31 girls and young women from Mexico, Egypt, Tanzania, the UK and India about themes, keywords, colours and shape options for the logo.
Cog used this information to draw up four initial designs. The eight funding partners voted and took these down to two designs and provided feedback and further amendments. The final stage of consultation was with the twenty winning organisations themselves, asking for their thoughts on the designs and for them to vote for their preferred option.
It has been exciting to compare and contrast input from girls all around the world. One issue that came up time and time again was the use of the colour pink. Is it too girly? What about the gender stereotypes associated with it? Is it time to reclaim pink? Another pattern to have emerged across all regions has been the insistence of using images that show power and activism and rather than anything that displays passive gender-linked icons.
Two clear favourites emerged. The first, the favourite of the winning organisations by 14 to 4 had a more “development sector” feel about it. The second, favoured by the funding partners, had a more campaigning feel and potentially spoke to donors more.
After much deliberation, we went with the preferred choice of the winning organisations. The teal and purple was the first choice for many panellists and the colour palette is bright, vibrant and fun – like the organisations and girls we are seeking to empower.
The horizontal teal blocks represent an equals sign and will be used as a standalone icon across marketing materials. This logo has a grassroots, handmade feel which represents the hand each stakeholder has had in shaping the awards. The design shows a logo made by the girls for girls. This avoids stereotypes and creates a new empowering look for girls that they can call their own. The three most popular words the girl panellists chose to describe the project were ‘inspiring’, ‘passionate’ and ‘creative’. The look of this logo is fun and creative but at the same time expresses the ‘campaigning’ element of the project. The bolder look and feel means it is instantly recognisable as a logo representing development work that focuses on youth.
Although this option was not my personal favourite, we have followed the process and most importantly listened to and respected the voices of the organisations we are aiming to elevate. What sets this brand apart from others in the development sector is the method that was used to design it. We have stayed true to our values and listened to the very people we have set out to serve.