Creating a boldly unapologetic brand and online space to mobilize community
The National Harm Reduction Coalition (NHRC) is known for being the leaders of the Harm Reduction movement. They facilitate deep community building, hold vibrant national conferences, and are models of radical love. However, their brand was sterile and their website old and hard to navigate. It was time for NHRC to have the tools to continue and grow their work. To support NHRC, we* created:
A new flexible identity to grow and evolve alongside NHRC
A new website complete with a sortable resource center, information hubs, clear calls to action, and a space to center the harm reduction community
*This work was done while working at Joybyte as the Director of Design. Many people were involved in this project and all are credited where applicable.
Client: National Harm Reduction Coalition
Deliverables: Brand Package, Website
My Role: Creative Director, Website Designer
- Triniti Burton, Brand Strategy & Content
- Sunny Manning, Brand Designer
- Alex Crowder, Website Developer
- Angela Wehner, Project Manager
- Michelle Gerster, Account Manager
Primarily executed by Triniti Burton & Angela Wehner. I provided support and subject matter expertise.
Forming a community advisory board
A key element of the project was the Community Advisory Board (CAB) who provided guidance and feedback throughout the project. The board included donors, public health workers, harm reductionists, and people who use drugs.
Analyzing the market
A market analysis allowed us to see how similar organizations were presenting themselves and find areas of opportunity. We identified the Drug Policy Alliance and AIDS United as organizations that we would look to for inspiration. They lead with positive messaging, have information-dense websites, and their missions intersect with NHRC’s
With our information from the CAB and the market analysis, we were able to identify our audiences.
Elle is person who uses drugs. She is seeking information and resources to support safer use.
Cassandra is a concerned parent. Her child is experiencing substance use disorder and she wants to keep him safe.
Rudy is a passionate harm reductionist. They need resources to help them improve their organization’s harm reduction program.
Paul is a public health official concerned about drug-related harms. He’s seeking information to help him advocate for new policies.
Primarily executed by Sunny Davis. I provided creative direction.
To kickoff our brand work, we created 3 moodboards that we could use to facilitate a conversation on the direction of the brand with internal stakeholders and the CAB. We purposefully started broadly with a safe, middle, and bold concept to get a gauge for the direction we should head in.
With the north star identified, we moved on to the logo and brand identity. We explored many options to illustrate community, momentum, and collaboration along a spectrum of literal to abstract and organic to minimal.
Final logo and identity
This mark was chosen for its simple communication of the idea of movement - representative of progress and the harm reduction movement. This simple mark allowed for a broad canvas in brand messaging and application. To balance the simplicity, bold supporting elements like patterns, textures, and line were developed.
I executed website design. Content was written by Triniti Burton.
Creating a site map
We started the website design process by analyzing the content on the current website. We found opportunities to combine some pages while eliminating others. We also had a clear understanding of what our different audience members were looking for when they visited the website based on the information gathered from the CAB and from analytics on the existing site.
For me, the sketching process is the most important part of the design phase in any website. I use sketches to map out the underlying structure of a page to make sure the content flows smoothly and the most important pieces of information are highlighted. Sketching is the most effective way for me to digest the content, get out bad ideas, and plan my systems and components.
After sketching to create a plan around my system, I move to wireframes. Wireframes show content placement, structure, flow, and components in a way that can be shared with others. It allows me to commit to structural and functionality decisions without being distracted by typography, photography, and color.
Having completed wireframes allowed us to start testing. We returned to the CAB to conduct usability tests composed of tasks appropriate for the various audience types. For example, we wanted to make sure that donors could easily find pages highlight NHRCs work, people who use drugs could find naloxone and information about preventing an overdose, and organization directors could find capacity building programs.
The last design phase before development was to add in color, typography, and photography. The brand gradients were leveraged as tools to bring attention to CTAs and important resources. We incorporated the strong line element from the mark as a visual indicator to draw the eye down the page. Finally, we brought in patterns and a background texture to match the boldness of the brand identity.