This New Branding Is Designed To Jump-Start An Anti-Hate Movement

With its first design overhaul in its 13-year existence, the British nonprofit HOPE not hate wants to get supporters thinking about how to actively strike out bigotry.

In the United States, the presidency of Donald Trump has both inflated and legitimized a swath of bigoted, nationalist groups and precipitated a disturbing rise in hate crimes. Most recently, on August 12 in Charlottesville, Virginia, white nationalists spearheaded by the KKK gathered under the mantle of a “Unite the Right” rally that swiftly turned violent, as one of their number plowed a car into counterprotesters and left a local justice advocate dead.


While the escalating tensions in the U.S. have necessitated a cultural and societal reckoning, the U.K. has been facing a crisis of its own. Earlier this summer, two deadly attacks were carried out in London and Manchester. Tragedy should beget empathy and an understanding that one incident does not reflect the motives of an entire population, but often it sparks the reverse. In the aftermath of the Manchester and London attacks, both of which were carried out by people of Muslim descent, Islamophobic hate crimes, already on the rise in the wake of Brexit and the rise of anti-immigrant rhetoric in the country, have increased fivefold.

Around four months ago, HOPE not hate revealed its new design: the word “hate,” almost fully obscured by a yellow bar bearing the word “hope.”  [Photo: Blue State Digital for HOPE not hate]
But there are organizations working to more holistically bridge and combat the tensions at work in the country, and one of them, HOPE not hate, has rolled out a new strategy designed to empower people to not just stand against bias and intolerance, but to actively work to strike it out.

Working with the agency Blue State Digital (BSD)–known for developing Barack Obama’s digital campaign strategy for the 2012 election–HOPE not hate has, this year, redesigned itself for the first time since launching in 2004. The nonprofit pairs research with community-level organizing; its efforts to rally locals against the fascist British National Party in 2010 prevented the Nick Griffin-led coalition from making any political gains, and the party has since unraveled. Similarly, beginning in 2014, HOPE not hate worked made use of BSDs digital campaign platform tools to activate young voters to shut out the U.K. Independence Party (UKIP). Their efforts boosted youth voter turnout by over 50% and prevented UKIP politicians from securing seats in Parliament, but the party’s Euroskeptic and anti-immigrant rhetoric lives on through the Brexit decision and the resulting wave of hate crimes.

“We wanted to think of a brand identity that really encourages and embodies action in every single aspect.” [Photo: Blue State Digital for HOPE not hate]
HOPE not hate, says BSD managing director Samir Patel, has always taken a community-centered, grassroots approach: Its meetings (contrary to claims made by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who painted the nonprofit as a band of militant extremists), often held in mosques, advance empathy and rational discussion among disparate groups, and equip people with the tools to bring those conversations and exercises back to their families and neighborhoods. Its old logo reflected that approach: A serene-looking yellow sun, alongside the nonprofit’s name, radiated an image of peace and calm.

Around four months ago, HOPE not hate revealed its new design: the word “hate,” almost fully obscured by a yellow bar bearing the word “hope.” “This is an activist organization,” Patel tells Fast Company. “We wanted to think of a brand identity that really encourages and embodies action in every single aspect. The beautiful simplicity of the logo is that is really reflects the nonprofit’s mission to strike out hate.”

“We want people to take this and use it.” [Photo: Blue State Digital for HOPE not hate]
The driving principle behind the design is that obscuring hateful and biased words strips them of their power. It’s the same logic that motivates groups like Berlin #PaintBack, which last year started a grassroots efforts to use spray paint to transform swastika graffiti around the German city into whimsical works of street art, and Irmela Mensah-Schramm, a German former schoolteacher who has been hard at work scraping anti-Semitic propaganda off public surfaces for the past 30 years.


“We want people to take this and use it,” says BSD creative director Chomoi Picho-Owiny. “And in doing so, we kind of broke branding principles.” Because HOPE not hate has had a presence in the U.K. for over a decade, many of its supporters were attached to the old design, which Picho-Owiny says mimics the prevailing logic of the time: Develop a logo, put it on everything, don’t tweak it.

The new logo, he says, is more of an identity system. “The idea is to strike out hate, and you can do that anywhere–if you see a hate word on the school playground or on the subway, use this principle and strike it out.” (Through the nonprofit, organizers and activists will be able to source yellow tape labeled with “hope” to do this literally.) BSD’s approach to HOPE not hate’s new identity, Picho-Owiny says, is inspired by movements like Black Lives Matter, which respond to conditions, rather than remaining rigid.

Having just emerged a few months ago, the new logo is still settling in as the image of HOPE not hate. While the nonprofit continues its research and advocacy work–its focus lately has been on stopping Defend Europe, a far-right, anti-Muslim organization masquerading as a humanitarian outfit concerned over the treatment of refugees in the Mediterranean–Patel hopes that the nonprofits supporters will start thinking about how to translate the ethos embodied in the new logo into action.


About the author

Eillie Anzilotti is an assistant editor for Fast Company's Ideas section, covering sustainability, social good, and alternative economies. Previously, she wrote for CityLab.