Brands We Love: Social Mobility Foundation

August 7, 2018 | by Todd Pierce

As a designer, one of my passions is to create work that is inspirational and serves a real purpose. Not everything is purely for looks—when you can evoke someone to stop and really think about a brand or message and how it affects their everyday life, that’s priceless in my mind. Reflecting on this, I wondered how I could incorporate emotion through my designs as well as fill a part of me that enjoys helping others and making a real difference.

With this newfound sense of purpose, I began to look for what other designers have been doing to scratch this itch. In the process, I came across a foundation rebrand that blew me away. From a pure design standpoint, this rebrand is stunning and pushes the boundaries of what is considered the norm. And from a humanitarian standpoint, it helped restore my belief that with a little help, you can do anything.

The foundation is called the Social Mobility Foundation, which helps disadvantaged youths from low-income backgrounds succeed in achieving their dream careers. Their rebrand was designed by Studio Jones Knowles Ritchie, an independent creative agency headquartered in the UK.



Just the brand logo itself pushes boundaries. Aside from the wizardry that happens at Google, when can you say you have ever seen an animated logo? JKR saw an opportunity to drive home the notion that there are steps to take in order to achieve your dream career, and the foundation was given an identity with an animated ‘O’ to symbolize those steps, or the climbing of the career ladder, to success.


“The new identity looks to unify many different identities used across marketing communications, made up of varying colour palettes, typefaces and brandmarks” – Sean Thomas, executive creative director at Jones Knowles Ritchie



When diving deeper into the rebrand, I appreciated seeing another agency that puts so much thought, planning and consideration into what an identity system for a brand can become. Because their entire campaign is centered around the movement of the ‘O’, challenges were bound to ensue. The biggest challenge that comes to mind is producing static versions for print. I know from experience that when designing a logo, you have to envision it as it will be used across all media, so the more adaptable the better.

JKR already knew that their message of climbing the ladder would reproduce wonderfully online, but what can you do to achieve this in print? Could you really get a sense of movement with a static image? The answer is a resounding YES. It took some testing, but they came to realize that our brains have no problem filling in the blanks where the ‘O’ would typically be.



Now, I know that I have been talking a lot about the rebrand, the JKR team and the amazing job they did, but the other component to the success of a rebrand is the client. How do they feel their message is coming across? Are they happy with the results? Do they feel like they have been heard and that their mission is still being adhered to? These are the questions that need to be answered in order to create a successful rebrand.

As designers, our job is to serve the client first and foremost. You could design the Mona Lisa, but if it doesn’t make the client happy, all you have is a canvas with oils and paint on it. Keep the client in the loop during the process and include them in the discovery stage and you will make your life a whole lot easier. Pleasing the client can be a challenge, but the more you interact with each other, the smoother the process will go, ultimately delivering a result that everyone is ecstatic about.

While I wasn’t able to find any direct feedback from the client, the way this new brand and the messaging accompanying it illuminate the mission at The Social Mobility Foundation, I would imagine they are pretty pleased.



This rebrand definitely struck a chord and got me amped to go out and make a difference. Even the smallest thing could mean the world to someone. This rebrand isn’t just a creative lockup, or a classic sans serif typeface or a harmonious color palette. No, it’s the chance to use the skills given to you to help change the lives of others.

The feeling you get when being a part of something bigger is hard to explain. You get a sense of triumph that is unmatched by anything else. What things are you passionate about? Are you like me, passionate about design and the need to help others? Or do you have your own hopes and dreams? We would love to hear from you.

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