Client: The British Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Services: Consultancy, Concept Development, Branding & Visual Identity, Website Design
Drug resistant superbugs are one of the biggest health crises facing humanity. Millions of lives are at stake. Developing new drugs are vital. But that’s only one piece of the puzzle. STOP SUPERBUGS aims to address those gaps, adopting an approach that focuses on action, education and persuasion. We soon realised that a key part to STOP SUPERBUGS is the community we want to create. A hand is the perfect motif to communicate this, as the open hand is near-universally recognised as a gesture of greeting, friendship and assistance, as in to “lend a hand”. We like the idea of a ‘handmade’ approach – a community coming together to address the unique aspects of the challenge, creating local solutions to a global problem.
I was commissioned by The British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, to design the branding and website for their new charity Stop Superbugs.
"In a world distracted by tricks and stunts, it was a relief to find someone who understands the profound importance of telling complex stories through everyday words and pictures. Helena's work on our global health initiative, Stop Superbugs, has revealed an uncanny ability to make the personal universal through hand-drawn design. If we deliver the project her artwork deserves, it's likely to become a source of quiet inspiration for the way society thinks and talks about our ability to overcome existential threat - in this case, drug-resistant infection.”
Scroll on to find out more about my process
and the design development
Design & Build
For Stop Superbugs, I was keen to use a hand-drawn style, just because it’s so suggestive of the need to put the story back in the hands of people. It’s a design that consciously draws attention to the fact that a human being created this work – and not a sleek algorithm. Nothing is quite perfect with the Stop Superbugs visual language; from the hand-made font, to the moving illustrations. It has a fresh, almost child-like feel – a subtle reminder of the children who are especially vulnerable to the threat of untreatable infections.
In addition, and in opposition to the tired tropes of “victims and saviours”, the drawings and the bold colour scheme were designed to be upbeat and uplifting. Rather than a cold, clinical palette, we selected bright, punky hues. Neon pink. Electric blue. To me, this signaled a brand that dares to do things differently.
Finally, I incorporated the motif of the hand throughout the brand. If this last COVID-addled year has taught the wider world anything, it’s that our hands are one of the biggest transmitters of infectious disease. That’s why we wash them to stay safe.
Prints of the lino-cut font
Hand-drawn font (secondary logo)
01 THE CHALLENGE
Whether you’re selling a service, product or, in this case, a global health initiative, a successful brand needs to tell a story that people can relate to. It’s the first thing your audience will judge (consciously or unconsciously) when they visit your website, follow you on social media, or read about your work in a newspaper (less likely these days!).
As such, it’s more important than ever to make what you do personal and one that will be understood immediately in a matter of seconds.
One thing that was clear from my initial discussions with my clients, was that they wanted to put people at the heart of Stop Superbugs. Despite so many of us being affected by drug-resistant infections, most of the communication in this area tended to stick to the science, instead of bringing in the individuals involved. Stop Superbugs wanted to do things differently, shifting the focus back to people and communities – not just the families whose lives have been destroyed by infection, but also those who, through their hard work and dedication, are helping to make a real difference.
With this in mind (a large challenge to undertake!), I set about turning words into images and building a visual language.
Preliminary design ideas
Final logo design
Hands were at the heart of the branding.
In the West, at least, we use a handshake to greet people, or seal a new partnership. They’re a symbol of friendship, of coming together, of trust. If someone’s lost, we point them in the right direction. And if someone stumbles, it’s our hands we hold out to keep them on their feet.
Most importantly, if someone needs help, we lend them a hand.
That’s what Stop Superbugs is all about. People coming together, sharing the skills, knowledge and resources at their disposal to build a better, brighter world for all of us. It might not be a perfect world of straight corporate lines and digital shading, but it’s one that is founded on mutual respect and kinship. Of passion and raw energy. One that is dedicated to getting out there and offering a helping hand to the people who need it most.
The outcome for this project included a full visual identity (logo, illustrations and brand book) and a website design. My client had their own website designer as part of their internal team, so I made sure to hand across all finalised assets, website wireframes and a full brief.
Take a look at the website: stopsuperbugs.co.uk