Can branding make a city more equitable? Can it get more people to the polls? Can it help amplify an artist’s voice? For Jennifer Kinon and Bobby Martin, who lead the nine-year-old New York City studio Original Champions of Design, branding can be wielded to help anyone—including clients like the WNBA and the Girl Scouts—speak more clearly to the world. As Kinon puts it: “If anybody thinks design can be a champion for them, we’re ready to take on that work right now and figure out how to get it done.” This year, that mission took them to Memphis, where they renamed and rebranded the riverfront parks, enhancing awareness of the city’s beautiful public spaces. Another recent project involved creating All Things Being Equal, a monograph featuring the work of conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas, who touches on today’s pressing social and political issues. Now, as the 2020 election looms, Kinon and Martin are working with candidates and organizations that support women and young people in politics. What unites these disparate initiatives is the designers’ sense of purpose. “We have a clear focus for what we do, why we do it, and where we want to go,” says Martin. “And a lot of that comes down to us believing in the idea of making the world better.”
A version of this article appeared in the October 2019 issue of Fast Company magazine.