• Transform magazine
  • February 24, 2021


Sands of time

Queen Rania_classroom.jpg

For Jordan’s Queen Rania Foundation – which focuses on education as a means to combatting poverty, crime and conflict – needed a strong identity to help it cut-through and achieve awareness with its target group of donors. Landor developed a unique, tailor-made icon for use across the foundation’s brand architecture, building consistency through design

If a weather disaster strikes, people’s lives are affected. If political or military strife causes population displacement, people’s lives are uprooted. If crops fail, people’s livelihoods are damaged. Charities work around the world, particularly in developing countries, to mitigate the impacts of these kinds of crises. They seek to rebuild lives, provide medical care and reestablish communities.

However, one of the biggest crises affecting developing nations – and one that is often invisible – is regarding education. For children
who miss out on three years of education, their academic careers will never recover; they will perennially be at a disadvantage. In Jordan, a charity supported by the nation’s queen provides funding, support and resources for education in the same way that a medical charity might in times of natural disaster. The Queen Rania Foundation (QRF) is effectively making education as important of a national issue as other crises.

And with good reason, too, as, according to Unesco, world poverty could be halved if all adults completed secondary school and hunger cut in developing nations by 43% if women are educated.

This is particularly prescient in Jordan as it has become the host to a large portion of the region’s displaced people. Because of conflict in neighbouring states, Jordan is home to 1.4m refugees from Syria alone; according to the UN, 40% of whom are not in formal education. With 97% of Jordanian children in education, as per Unicef, the crisis is most apparent in the refugee communities that now make up a large proportion of the population around the nation’s capital city of Amman and the Mafraq region to the northeast.

Through the foundation, Jordan’s Queen Rania Al-Abdullah is hoping to tackle the education crisis from the ground up. But, to do so, she required a platform from which to communicate with funders, the media and other stakeholders. For that, QRF turned to brand consultancy Landor, which developed a new brand to support the charity’s mission. 

Landor focused on the QRF master brand. The organisation is comprised of 12 different agencies with varying remits; the task was to unite those behind a consistent identity while providing a global platform for growth and fundraising. “Right now, you feel the emergency of a famine or a flood or a war, but you don’t feel that sense of urgency for education. We want education to feel urgent and that time is of the essence,” executive creative director for central and eastern Europe the Middle East and Africa, Shaun Loftman, says. “Thaty’s why the whole brand was built around the sand clock, around time.”

The creative was expressed through coloured bands of sand, each colour representing one of Jordan’s 12 governates. The Landor studio, too, was soon full of sand; the creative team layered the colours so that the band representing the most challenged governates took up the largest portions of the brand icon.

“Right now, you feel the emergency of a famine or a flood or a war, but you don’t feel that sense of urgency for education. We want education to feel urgent and that time is of the essence. The whole brand was built around the sand clock, around time”

Inspired by the close affinity that Jordan has with the desert, Landor created a sand timer device in the form of the letter ‘Q,’ for Queen Rania’s title. It also represents a stopwatch with a pink slash device being used as the hand of the clock. The device reflects the insight that a child left behind in the classroom for three years will never regain that lost time. It has also been deployed across the visual identity, acting as a banner representing the organisation’s key messages.

Combining the unique signature colour with a tailor-made icon has allowed the QRF to consolidate its brand behind a single, ownable visual device. The brand will help the foundation to “make people understand that education is an urgent necessity in this part of the world,” Loftman says, thereby encouraging donations. “It’s simple, easy to get, easy to translate and still has a lot of potential,” he adds.

Building awareness will be the first step in helping the foundation achieve its mission of getting more children into education. Eventually, that work will make a difference to the thousands of refugees living in Jordan as well as Jordanian children who may still miss out on formal education.

Judges were impressed with Landor’s ability to distil a complex and sensitive situation into a clear, emotive and representative wordmark. With the strapline ‘Education is the answer’ the visual and verbal identity is straightforward and hard-hitting enough to cut through the crowded charity communications landscape, without relying on overly dramatised imagery. The cheerful colour palette will help it build awareness, they said, with one adding that “the links between the foundation’s target audience and the design of its wordmark are cleverly depicted.”

The brand system is still being developed, with animations and application across digital awaiting finalisation, but the visual identity was striking enough to compete in the ‘Best visual identity from a charity, NGO or not-for-profit’ category at the Transform Awards MENA. Winning gold in the competitive category meant Landor came away from the awards with seven gold awards total, plus the ‘Best overall visual identity’ prize. “It was a strong year in terms of clients helping us to take brands beyond just simple devices,” Loftman says of the success. The variety of work the brand was able to approach led to it wowing judges across the programme.

Landorwon gold awards for Joali and other projects at this year's Transform Awards MENA