Brand & Advertising

Inspiring youth to spark a change with Oxfam Novib

Written by Pim van Helten on 8, Octh 2021

Climate change has become a growing concern over the past decade. Today, it’s one of the biggest threats to humanity. Global warming, rising sea levels, and vicious wildfires are proof enough. It’s obvious that we must take action right away.

Young people across the globe are speaking up and taking matters into their own hands. They’re stepping up to be the climate heroes we so desperately need, and inspiring the rest of us along the way.

Oxfam Novib, an international non-profit organization, wanted to help youngsters make an impact in the fight for climate justice. Earlier this year, they joined the Climate Action by EU Citizens Delivers for Development initiative. Funded by the European Commission (EC), the initiative’s goal is to build public support for climate change and development policies - particularly those that focus on gender equality. 

In many parts of the world, gender inequalities make women more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The EC wants to raise awareness and empower European youth to speak up and take action. 

We partnered with Oxfam Novib to conceptualize, design, and create a brand narrative for the initiative. The brand needed to resonate with a diverse target audience: Gen Z and millennials from 13 European countries. Not exactly a walk in the park, but our team is always up for a good challenge. 

Building the brand

Mobilizing such a diverse generation is a whole different ball game. The first step was to understand how Gen Z and millennials view climate change.

Workshops are a great way to introduce new concepts, gather insights, and get inspired by different voices. Conducting these workshops helped us understand our audience’s take on climate change. With these insights, our brand strategists developed three brand concepts: edgy, friendly, and a combination of both.  

From there, our team ran focus groups to present these concepts and see which one made the biggest impression. Ultimately, the combination of edgy and friendly won. It was bold, empowering, and friendly - the perfect recipe to spark action. 

All it takes is a spark

The focus groups revealed a range of different voices and perspectives. We learnt about the different ideas and views Gen Z and millennials across Europe have on tackling climate change. The challenge was to create a brand that would appeal to each one of these voices. 

After multiple rounds of brainstorming, nothing really stuck. That is, until we realized that sometimes, all it takes is a spark to start a fire, or in this case, to bring about powerful change. 

With that in mind, the brand name Spark was born. We chose the word “spark” because you can use it as a call to action for different purposes: you can spark a change; spark a debate; spark a brighter future. The brand name acts as an umbrella term that gives youngsters the freedom to speak up on their own terms and take charge. 

The power of a strong visual brand identity

We live in a visual world. Visuals are a powerful form of communication - they can evoke emotions without using words. A strong visual identity is a crucial pillar of brand success.  

Translating the Spark brand into a consistent visual identity pushed our creative boundaries. After all, we needed to create a memorable brand identity that resonates with Gen Z and millennials, while staying true to the brand’s mission. 

The logo is designed with spark lines around it and acts as a visual identifier of the brand name and proposition. The spark lines can be added to other creative elements to emphasize the spark concept and build brand recognition. A halftone pattern was created for the target audience to add as an overlay on their own photos. It adds a gradient that makes visuals stand out with Spark’s brand colors. It’s designed in a simple and accessible PNG format that can be used by anyone. 

In the end, DPDK delivered a comprehensive brand manual containing all brand elements and guidelines. Logo, typography, color palettes, posters, GIFs, stickers, you name it. Each brand asset is easily accessible and customizable, so that youngsters are equipped to take action and ‘spark’ change. 

"The purpose of Spark is to amplify young voices and provide them with the tools to turn their ideas into actionable steps towards fighting climate change. We used this as the brand foundation and kept it in mind at every stage of the design process. As a result, the brand’s tone of voice and visual identity clearly communicate the brand’s mission: to spark change." 

- Michael Vromans, Chief Creative Officer at DPDK

Check out the full case study

Take me there

Working with Oxfam Novib on such an important initiative was an eye-opening and rewarding experience. Our team built a brand that not only appeals to a diverse audience but also empowers them in their fight for a better future. Establishing a strong brand foundation was key and all visual elements were based on these fundamentals. In doing so, we created a consistent identity that expresses the brand’s mission at every touchpoint. 

We set out to spark change and ended up feeling inspired ourselves, too. 

Pim van Helten

Pim van Helten


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