Since 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States. From free speech to marriage equality and freedom of religion, the ACLU is there to protect the civil liberties of all Americans. In a time when many of these rights are threatened by forces both inside and outside of the government, and with cultural and political divides widening, the ACLU’s work is vital.
With the ACLU rising in prominence due to current events, 2017 was the perfect time to launch a new visual identity to match the political climate. We wanted their new identity to respect their long legacy and widespread brand recognition, so we worked closely with the legal and advocacy teams at the ACLU to ensure it met their standards. In particular, we collaborated with their disability rights team to make sure that their new materials would be accessible to as many people as possible. We made specific choices about color and set clear rules about color combinations and type sizes so that the ACLU can set a new standard for accessibility. Working with experts in other fields made the work stronger and more effective for those living with disabilities—and for everyone else, too.
We designed the ACLU’s new identity to help them reach the broadest possible audience. Their previous color palette of blues sent a partisan message. Our system was designed to be more inclusive. The ACLU is no longer just blue—and it’s not even red, white and blue: it’s “red, everything and blue,” as our ACLU Design Handbook says. Our palette of 14 colors allows them to rise above the culture of partisanship to reach more people with nuance, sensitivity and a spirit of inclusivity. The system uses 2 type families: one (GT America) for what we call their “activist voice” and another (Century, also used for all Supreme Court briefs) for their “informational voice.” A distinctive image treatment nods to both past and future by embracing both history and today’s technology. And the new logo presents their initials as a unified mark, symbolizing how we can achieve more when we come together.
The ACLU saw greatly increased attention from the public in the last year, which manifested as higher donations and a larger and more engaged digital audience than ever before. Quantifiably, their email list grew by 340% to 2.7 million, their total social media audience increased by 680% to 3.4 million, their annual website views surged by 360% to 40 million, and they received online donations totaling $100 million. Qualitatively, their new identity is more accessible than ever before, by being more inclusive to people with disabilities and by abandoning partisan signifiers to reach out to all Americans.