The goal of the assignment was to provide a comprehensive design concept that would address a controversial subject plaguing a foreign nation. We were given a very depressing list of the world's social afflictions and selected "Censorship in the People's Republic of China" as our topic.
"Develop a fully explored and researched design concept that would evoke change if implemented."
— Project Brief
As an outsider looking in on a country and subject I knew little about, I tried to be particularly conscious of ethnocentrism and the differing cultural sensibilities of the East and West. I also did my best to remain objective in my research and only form an opinion once I'd acquired and vetted a substantial amount of well-sourced information from multiple viewpoints.
Empathy & Action
While the goal of the campaign was to prompt social change in China, the need for awareness was globally reaching. One of the first questions we asked ourselves was, "How do we get people outside of China to care about this?" Subsequently, we would need to provide them with an intuitive route to meaningful action.
After researching the topic thoroughly, we directed our thinking to social media marketing and campaign strategy. I conducted a detailed competitive analysis of two previously viral humanitarian campaigns: Kony 2012 and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
Kony 2012 was a visually polished campaign consisting of multiple components that integrated well. The initial video led users to an intuitive microsite that acted as an information nexus for the campaign. It also reiterated the campaign's calls-to-action, including the "Cover the Night" event where supporters would take to the streets on a specified date to "blanket cities" with cause-related posters and art. This uniquely interactive concept guaranteed a resurgence of social relevance once the campaign's initial viral attention had faded.
A key factor of both of these viral phenomenons was the heartstring-tugging effect they had on America's digital denizens. Both stories involve evil forces and a humanitarian call for help, both evoke genuine feelings of empathy. Those feelings are then met with multiple paths for people to "get involved", or contribute to the cause, even if just by raising awareness.
We wanted our campaign to have an authentic look and feel that would connect with the people it aimed to serve. To accomplish this, I delved deep into visual research to better familiarize myself with eastern aesthetics. I then began gathering stock photography that captured the essence of our campaign.
While trying to conceptualize an identity to build our campaign around, my partner Hayley suggested "Beyond the Wall", which was far more apt and cause-inspired than anything I could come up with. I immediately began sketching concepts for the logo and looking for potential visual connections we could make to our cause.
While researching characters of the Standard Mandarin Alphabet, I came across the radical symbol known as 言. Unless this is some sort of untrustworthy tattoo parlor situation, I'm to believe that the 言 symbol is utilized in various ways to allude to concepts of words or speech.
I began building off of the 言 symbol and experimenting further with typography and color. After a lot of time and refinement, I eventually arrived at the final version of the logo, which can be seen below.
The Beyond the Wall mark combines the Mandarin character for speech (言) with the symbolism of a defensive wall, alluding to both The Great Wall of China and the general concept of impediment. Like a stone wall, the grid that it aligns to provides its structural integrity.
Our final concept for the "Beyond the Wall" campaign consisted three core components:
1. Campaign Video
The campaign would begin with an informative video seeking to educate and connect with viewers about the censorship issues in China. The video would be released and boosted across all Beyond the Wall social channels and would direct viewers to the campaign website in order to get involved.
I created an example clip, or "video moodboard" as I like to call it, that succinctly depicts the general feel our video hoped to capture.
2. Campaign Microsite
The Beyond the Wall website would provide ample information related to the cause, host the campaign video, and encourage users to contribute in multiple ways, including participation in the upcoming Snapchat event. For our project presentation, I designed wireframes that mapped out the elements of the Beyond the Wall site.
Although the project had concluded, I thought it might be a useful exercise to actually create the campaign microsite. Based on the content and interface dictated by the wireframes, I developed the microsite using Brackets and open source materials from ajlkn.
Click here to visit the finalized Beyond the Wall website.