Hull reflects on abolition of slavery with Elmwood

Elmwood Leeds has drawn up a brand identity and communication materials to promote the city of Hull’s commemoration of the abolition of the UK slave trade.

In 2007, it will be 200 years since ‘son of Hull’ William Wilberforce won a long-fought campaign to bring an end to the importation of slaves. Elmwood was appointed by Hull City Council’s urban regeneration division Hull Cityimage to create a brand that would position Hull as the lead city for this 2007 bi-centenary celebration.

‘The key thing to remember throughout the project was that the issues are current as well as historical: there are now more slaves globally than there were at the time of Wilberforce,’ explains Elmwood senior designer Andrew Lawrence.

Four key, emotive words are used in the Wilberforce 2007 Hull identity, presented in a ‘distressed’ typeface. The words – pride, freedom, belief and change – are gathered to form a ‘W’.

The council anticipates that the identity will be seen globally beyond the 2007 campaign. To allow ongoing applications, Elmwood aimed to avoid a ‘passive’ brand and did not use typical slavery imagery. ‘We went for an identity with an edgy feel to it,’ says Lawrence.

An accompanying book is designed around numbers, presenting statistics of the current and historical state of world slavery.

Elmwood has also designed two additional logos, one for the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation and another for Wilberforce House, the museum and birthplace of Wilberforce.

Lawrence hopes that Elmwood will now create guidelines for ongoing applications of the identity. As part of the bi-centenary, Wilberforce House is investing £3.75m to create a ‘state-of-the-art destination museum’. Hull City Council’s in-house team is handling the design work.

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