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Redesigning the third sector

We all know that good design is good business, to quote IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, but not-for-profits can benefit tremendously by caring about and investing in high quality, professional design. From building a brand, to ensuring you’re engaging your audience, here’s some ways in which design can help charities and ethical organisations.

Instil a sense of professionalism

People want to know that their donations and/or time is being used properly and professionally. A well designed logo, brand, website and supporting marketing materials help to build trust in the potential supporter that your organisation is serious and legitimate.

An organisation that is seen to be investing in its public image and actively trying to grow and increase their effectiveness to the cause is one that people pay attention to.

Speak to the right audience

The branding and visual identity design of any organisation is crafted for two main reasons:

  1. to give it a distinctive and memorable identity that stands out from the crowd
  2. to ensure the organisation is speaking in the correct tone of voice to the appropriate audience.

It is important that your organisation knows the kind of language (both written and visual) that will appeal to your target audience and create a series of materials and experiences that will encourage that audience to positively engage with you. Having a well considered visual and written language style across all your communications not only creates consistency in the messages you send out, but also encourages an internal harmony as your various staff members are all on the same page.

Knowing where you currently sit in your market place is very important, and it’s equally important to know where you want to be positioned in the market place. This gives you an angle and a direction.

Helps refocus

Sometimes bringing in an external agent to evaluate the visual aspect of the organisation can help to refocus and refine the goals of the charity. When you are busy in the day-to-day running of the organisation it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and long-term objectives, so when you’re asked to define your audience and your key message your design agency partners can help to clarify your strategy and pinpoint exactly what you want to achieve.

A brand refresh could be the rallying cry that reinvigorates the team and gives new direction to the cause.

Makes you future-proof

It’s important to have the future in mind and to consider the scalability of the brand by planning for when your charity expands beyond your region or even becomes international. Your visual identity should also be designed with all the modern platforms in mind – can your identity be distilled down to a distinct icon or graphic that can comfortably adapt across different media. Your logo needs to work harder than ever.
The way people browse and access the web is ever-changing, with mobile internet usage now exceeding desktop it is vital that your website is optimised for mobile and tablet devices.

Prompt action and engagement

Good design is as much about giving hierarchy and purpose to visuals as it is creating a good looking environment. Websites, print materials and even motion graphics and interactive pieces all usually have a purpose or a desired outcome. With third sector organisations this is usually to encourage donation, participation and information-sharing.

By ensuring the materials that your potential supports see are well-considered and nicely designed with a purpose in mind, you can greatly increase the chances of them donating and engaging with your cause.

Good examples

Here’s a few examples of charities and ethical organisations who have done it right, and used the power of design for good.

Feed the Children – Identity rebrand



Feed The Children decided to rebrand their dated logo and give it a much needed refresh. The new identity is colourful and positive with a more approachable and youthful appearance. The weave or crop-like pattern introduces a set of brand colours that are used throughout their materials.

Pace – Identity rebrand


Pace (Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation) successfully rebranded themselves as Pace from their old name Crop. Discarding their old logo with a negative or torn-apart look, they now have a professional identity that suggests the coming together and rebuilding of families. Their chosen brand typeface is authoritative yet approachable and friendly.

Water Aid Wahoo – Website campaign



Wahoo by Water Aid is a new gifting experience that allows supporters to read touching real life stories and give a gift to Water Aid. It’s a great concept that integrates videos and illustration to humanise this cause.

Not For Sale – Website



Not For Sale are committed to protecting people from human trafficking and ending modern day slavery. Their logo cleverly represents links of a breaking chain made from two Euro symbols and their bold orange colour scheme is used throughout. Their website is clean and built responsively to work nicely across many devices.

Homeless Fonts – Campaign



This is somewhat of a wildcard, but a great example of design and creativity being used for good. A group of graphic designers met with a number of rough sleepers in Barcelona, listened to their stories and got permission to create a series of fonts from their handwriting with the goal to sell them for homelessness charity.

We love collaborating with ethical organisations and hearing how creativity can solve problems for good causes. If you have any interesting stories, or problems that need solving, get in touch or let us know in the comments below.

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