Founded in 1971, Earthjustice is the nation’s original environmental law organization. Earthjustice pioneered environmental law, but had difficulty standing apart from the many other environmental organizations competing for donor support and market attention. The organization needed to engage the big-picture achievers who comprise its most treasured partners, donors, influencers and brand ambassadors.
Working with brand strategy firm Tait Subler, Earthjustice had recently completed an internal repositioning process to define and articulate the organization’s core purpose. In partnership with Hen’s Teeth Branding, our team was tasked with developing a brand identity that would reflect the new positioning. We needed to create a bold new expression and help Earthjustice learn to speak with a strong, impactful voice.
We evolved the Earthjustice logo to embody the brand’s boldness and strength, and to allow more flexibility in placement, meaning and use. Then, we created the Earthjustice brand toolkit to serve as a guide for the new way of thinking and behaving. Our involvement in this project was designed to empower those working on the brand to use these tools effectively, so that the brand speaks with one voice.
Title: Earthjustice Brand Voice
Design Firm: Cue
Design Team: Kate Arends, designer; Alan Colvin, creative director; Ed Mathie, managing director; Tait Subler, brand strategy; Hen’s Teeth, brand activation; Cue, design firm
Earthjustice uses the power of law to preserve, protect and promote a healthy environment for everyone. As a non-profit, public interest environmental law firm, Earthjustice is the premier resource for work in this area. We helped the organization articulate its mission and purpose in a concise and highly differentiated way in order to enlist people to join and fight with it, and work for change.
Earthjustice partners with thousands of organizations and passionate supporters to take on the toughest, most complex environmental issues of the day, such as climate change, fracking, air quality and arctic drilling. Earthjustice’s audiences were being bombarded with competing messages about environmental causes and financial gifting. We gave people a compelling reason for why they should invest their time and resources into supporting Earthjustice and defending the right to a healthy environment.
A strong brand identity will help Earthjustice to be financially healthy and sustainable over the long term. Earthjustice communications are targeted at the big-picture achievers who comprise the organization’s most treasured partners, donors, influencers and brand ambassadors, and who share the motivation to act. For the website, publications, and fundraising efforts, Earthjustice now has tools to help them focus on continuity of the core ideas, so that they can ultimately present a unified brand.
Earthjustice’s core belief is that we all have the right to a healthy environment. This belief is at the heart of the organization, and is the belief that Earthjustice shares with its partners and supporters, and to the larger culture in general. Our work on the brand identity ensures that everything that Earthjustice does points back to this core belief.
Our challenge was to refresh and refine the Earthjustice identity, while still maintaining the equity that the brand had built throughout its forty-year history. The design solution needed to integrate rational and emotional reasons to support Earthjustice, while also differentiating it from other players in the market. Our task was to create a powerful expression of the Earthjustice mission and proposition that could clarify, differentiate and compel action across its audiences. Furthermore, Earthjustice had the opportunity to articulate a new mindset for supporting environmental justice that separated it from the clichéd expressions of pitiful, vulnerable animals that pervaded the category.
We conducted an audit of the category to study the identities, mission statements, and communication strategies of other prominent environmental law groups and nonprofits. It was important for us to understand the market so that we could identity the points of differentiation that would make Earthjustice’s identity unique. Our research showed that Earthjustice was best personified by the archetype of a savvy, tenacious fighter, and that the themes of “justice” and “protecting all of us” were the most representative of Earthjustice’s culture and ethos.
The Earthjustice identity system comes to life through a series of applications that own the brand’s graphic look and feel. The brand’s signature visual expression is made up of a mix of conceptual imagery, graphic violators, color and typography. Solid colors bring life to branded messages, and bold typography serves to make an impact and engage with the audience. Photography is cropped tightly to focus the message, always providing a clear point of view.
The Earthjustice brand toolkit explains how Earthjustice’s unique voice can stand apart in a category where many other organizations are expressing a similar mission. The toolkit explains the “dos and don’ts” of Earthjustice brand communications, such as how to select imagery that is appropriate for the brand’s visual tone and manner. Along with the Hen’s Teeth team, we hosted work sessions to collaborate with Earthjustice stakeholders and introduce the toolkit to Earthjustice’s staff. We hosted a series of exercises that explained how to use the tools, and trained the communications team to speak in the new brand voice.