Acumen, which was previously known as Acumen Fund, was established 12 years ago by author and entrepreneur Jacqueline Novogratz and supports business ideas in India, Pakistan and West and East Africa.
Acumen’s aim is to provide investment that puts social impact before financial return – an initiative they have dubbed ‘patient’ capital.
Johnson Banks was appointed 17 months ago to help Acumen clarify what it stands for, as the organisation has developed into a growing network of fundraising chapters and a global fellowship programme, and gone beyond just investing in companies.
Johnson Banks shortened the organisation’s name to Acumen, so that it could strengthen the use of the word both as a name and a noun.
It also aimed to harness the skill of the many writers and orators in the organisation.
The result is a brand built around a manifesto, which was developed in consultation with Acumen (which can be read at the end of this piece).
The full manifesto can be broken up into eight ‘mini’ manifestos, which have been used to create Acumen’s eight different logos.
The ‘A’ in the identity has deliberately been left unfinished. Johnson Banks says this is ‘to communicate that their work is never complete, that they don’t have all the answers, and that they can’t change the way the world tackles poverty alone’.
The new identity is being used on a series of touchpoints, inclunding a new website developed by Briteweb.
The Acumen manifesto in full.
Acumen: it starts by standing with the poor, listening to voices unheard, and recognizing potential where others see despair.
It demands investing as a means, not an end, daring to go where markets have failed and aid has fallen short. It makes capital work for us, not control us.
It thrives on moral imagination: the humility to see the world as it is, and the audacity to imagine the world as it could be. It’s having the ambition to learn at the edge, the wisdom to admit failure, and the courage to start again.
It requires patience and kindness, resilience and grit: a hard-edged hope. It’s leadership that rejects complacency, breaks through bureaucracy, challenges corruption, and does what’s right, not what’s easy.
Acumen: it’s the radical idea of creating hope in a cynical world. Changing the way the world tackles poverty and building a world based on dignity.