A new visual identity has been created for the RNIB, the charity for blind and partially sighted people, in the year of its 150th anniversary by creative agency, The&Partnership London.
Marc Donaldson, head of art at the company, says he worked closely with both the charity and with people with sight loss conditions, to ensure the final design was something everyone was proud of.
The new visual identity was part of a campaign to put the charity “back on the public radar” and make it more “recognisable”, according to the designer.
“They are helping more than 2 million people across the country with sight loss,” Donaldson says. “It was about connecting with people as a charity.”
“As charity which works with people who are blind and partially sighted, you want a really readable logo.”
Donaldson explains the process began by meeting with people from the RNIB. “We started to educate them about the design process, so they could design the logo with me. I wanted it to be a truly inclusive process,” he says.
This included looking over past logos from the charity’s history, such as an early logo featuring a man with a walking stick which said, “challenging blindness” – everyone agreed this was not very “readable”, he says.
They also looked over other company and charity logos together, such as the RSPCA, the RSPB and the NHS.
“The NHS logo looks like it wasn’t designed much, but it was done like that as people don’t like it to look like loads of money has been spent on it. It can also be photocopied lots of times and still be readable, and it is easily applicable across lots of different touch-points.”
He took inspiration from road signs, which he says a lot of design process went into despite them looking very “simple”.
Citing the ten principles of good design as set out in Dieter Rams’s ideology, he explains a key point he focused on was: “Good design is as little design as possible.”
It was decided that the RNIB logo needed to be a wordmark that was “simple”, “memorable” and “reproducible”. It needed to work just as well whether it was on a business card or the side of a building, according to Donaldson.
The next step was a research session with a group of blind and partially sighted people, who he consulted with on what they wanted from the visual identity and showed a range of designs to.
“What was great is that they were really honest,” Donaldson says. “Some could not see very well at all, some would feel nauseous looking at type for a long time.”
“I showed them about five different types of RNIB logo and asked which is better to look at and which is better aesthetically. We tried different types, fonts, letter spacing…
“Without those research sessions I wouldn’t have been able to do anything as I wanted their opinion to back up everything we did.”
As well as being “easy to read” a key finding was that they wanted a logo and typeface that was more “grown-up”.
“They felt the old rounded typeface was a bit pre-school and felt a bit patronising,” Donaldson says.
Designing “something that works for everyone”
With many different sight loss conditions existing, Donaldson highlighted the challenge of designing “something that works for everyone” but says he tried to create something that worked for as many people as possible.
The resulting design was a simple black RNIB wordmark, in a sans serif typeface with fairly wide spacing between the letters and a coloured underline, all aimed to be easier to distinguish for those who are partially sighted.
“It is almost like anti-design, but there is so much design, typography and research that has gone into it,” he says.
“The spacing between the letters is functional, it allows the logo to breathe and makes it look like a logo rather than just written letters. It lets a lot of people with sight conditions be able to read it.”
The line underneath is designed to help people find their way around a page and comes in different colours – the variety of colours used is a nod to the variety of different people the charity represents, according to Donaldson.
They also created a tactile version of the logo.
He was pleased with the outcome as the RNIB was so “integral” to the whole process. During the course of the paid project which took almost a year, Donaldson say he developed “a great friendship” with people at the charity. He describes the work as “a bit of a passion project”.
The new logo is accompanied with the tag line “see differently” written underneath.
It will be featured on a poster campaign challenging people’s perception of those with sight loss, with the message “See the person, not the sight loss”, as well as some video adverts.
It is part of the RNIB’s refreshed strategy to focus on empowering people with sight loss, and supporting them to achieve their aspirations.
The series of posters feature simple images of objects set on coloured backgrounds and light-hearted messages challenging views. One example shows a picture of a microphone and says: “Living with sight loss doesn’t make me brave. Singing Queen at karaoke does.”
The new visual identity will be on communications and will eventually appear on signage both inside and outside the building.
Martin Wingfield, Head of Brand at RNIB, said: “To set us out on the next 150 years, we needed to revitalise our positioning and re-connect with our community, and raise more awareness of the vital work we do with blind and partially sighted people.
“With the energy, care and dedication that has gone into the project, we’re proud to present our new face to the RNIB community and to the public. We hope the campaign addresses misconceptions many hold about people with sight loss, and truly puts RNIB back on the map.”