Humour, pop culture and reality: creating a new identity for Sad Girls Club

The online community dedicated to supporting the mental health of hundreds of thousands of young women of colour has been rebranded by Tickety Boo.

Online mental health community Sad Girls Club has been given a “70s-style” visual identity by international design studio Tickety Boo Creative.

Founded in 2017 by Elyse Fox, Sad Girls Club is a grassroots platform that supports young women of colour in their struggles with mental health. Since inception, it has amassed some 300,000 followers, and regularly puts on workshops, virtual therapist sessions and other events for its community.

Because of the rapid growth of the Sad Girls Club platform, the organisation had previously gone without a “fully formed brand or communications approach”, and as such, Fox approached Tickety Boo to help boost brand recognition.

Featuring a redrawn logo, a suite of illustrations, branding assets and strategy, the identity has been launched as part of celebrations for Mental Health Awareness Month in the UK.

Capturing the “happy/sad dichotomy”

In creating the new identity, the team was inspired by the “bold and graphical style of the 1970s”, Tickety Boo founder and creative director Judy Andrews tells Design Week. Additionally, the team needed to establish a look the emphasised the platform’s mental health mission.

So while the colour palette is “bright, bold and inclusive”, the applications of the new brand showcase “the reality of mental illness” and the “happy/sad dichotomy” for all to see.

The new logo is perhaps the best example of this. Most often appearing in bold pink and blue, it features a two-part graphic: a smile and a downturned mouth. Since the purpose of Sad Girls Club is to diminish stigma, Andrews says it felt important to include the happy/sad reference “as a reminder that it’s OK to feel this way and to share those feelings”.

In this same vein, elsewhere the team developed a series of “quirky, irreverent” character illustrations, for use in Sad Girls Club’s communications. Each has been designed to represent a different emotional state, with Andrews explaining the intention is to de-stigmatise feelings like anxiety and frustration.

“Accessibility and relatability”

The driving force behind Sad Girls Club’s new look was the people in its community, Andrews adds.

“The brief was to create an inviting space to hold open conversations,” she explains. “Being real and down to earth was absolutely critical.”

As with any conversation around mental health, Andrews says tackling it required a complex approach. At the core of Sad Girls Club, she says, is “accessibility and relatability”, so the identity needed to reflect that.

The branding therefore has been designed with the aesthetics, references and mannerisms that young women of colour can feel comfortable around. Frequently, it uses humour, pop culture and meme references, with the ultimate aim of bringing “hope and understanding” to conversations being had by the community.

This is emphasised in particular by the new brand line, Small Talk Real Talk (in which “Small Talk” has been crossed out). As Andrews points out, the motivation behind this was to signpost that “this community digs deeper than the small talk, exploring issues which are both personal and critical for wellbeing”.

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