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The Fine Art of Charity Rebranding

Chris Dickman Fri, 06/20/2014 - 11:50

Charities don't have an easy time of it, when it comes to creating or refreshing their logo. On the one hand, such a logo must be part of a consistent brand identity, one that both expresses the nature of the charity's unique focus, in a very crowded sector. But it it must also inspire trust on the part of individual and institutional supporters, as well as those it has committed to helping. A charity, when you get right down to it, is simply a particular kind of business. But while it needs to express that graphically it must avoid seeming too corporate, and therefore out of touch with the concerns of its constituents. And it must at all cost not appear too flush — just a hint that a slick logo rebrand by a top design firm cost in the hundreds of thousands and supporters can easily freak out.

There's little chance of that happening in the case of the new logo for Feed the Children (shown above), which gets the job done nicely without any flash or sentimentality. This is a vast improvement on the decades-old silhouette of a child holding up some kind of a food bowl, coupled with one of the worst type treatments in recent memory. As it turns out, Feed the Children has been around for 35 years and has as its mission the rather open-ended "Providing hope and resources for those without life’s essentials." Which could be just about anything, when you think about it. But the focus, as its name would imply, is on providing food aid for children in America and around the world, with Feed the Children having now grown into one of the largest U.S.-based charities. Last year, for example, it distributed more than $129 million in food, medicine and other essentials to children in 18 countries. Malnutrition, it would seem, is big business.

The NonProfit Times quotes CEO Kevin Hagan as saying that "The logo is called 'band together,' and shows brightly colored intertwined bands next to the organization’s name. The all-caps 'FEED' is for emphasis, and the lower-case 'i' in 'Children' is meant to show that 'in the midst of all of our work, the child is our focus.'” Well, those bands aren't intertwined, Kevin, they're side by side. I took them to symbolize a stylized overhead view of agricultural fields, connecting with the idea of growing healthy food.

The Feed the Children redesign made me wonder about the state of charity logos in general. After some research I can assure you that there are some stinkers out there, just waiting for a refresh. But there are also some winners and I've displayed a selection of them below. If if I've missed any, let me know in the comments and I'll add them.