• Transform magazine
  • July 18, 2024


Five minutes with Abb-d Taiyo


Abb-d Taiyo, co-founder and CCO of Driftime, chats to Transform about Art Not Evidence, a UK charity set up to restrict the use of creative and artistic expression as evidence in criminal trials. He discusses how Driftime developed a creative strategy to reach and resonate with complex audiences.

How did your relationship with Art Not Evidence begin? What was the initial brief they gave you?

We connected with founder Elli Brazill and collaborator Keir Monteith through one of our Driftime team members who was passionate about the impact Art Not Evidence is set to create. It was a great match from the get-go; and after sitting down with Elli and Keir to understand all the aims of the movement, we wanted to get involved and offered our services pro bono.

The conventional design agency model is to empower your client as long as it’s billable, but the cold hard truth is that you can only really empower a cause if your intention is to make the venture as successful as possible, which sometimes means having skin in the game and forfeiting your potential fee. Working with Art Not Evidence pro bono led to an authentic partnership, taking the team to where they need to be for as long as is viable for us as a business.

In terms of the brief, Art Not Evidence needed to appeal to a diverse mix of stakeholders, so the initial instruction was to create a brand and creative strategy that was able to resonate with decision makers in the justice system, music industry professionals, as well as artists in the community. Our task was to develop a creative strategy that was inclusive for a broad audience, ensuring no voices were alienated, erased, or overlooked, presented through a dynamic visual language that would resonate across cultures and communities.


Tell us about the insights process. Did you conduct any research beforehand to help inform the creative strategy?

The communities that create movements are not a monolith, with each and every person involved in not-for-profits having unique, often conflicting, opinions. Successful branding for not-for-profits like Art Not Evidence must appeal to both policy makers and people on-the-ground, inspiring tangible change through the power of impact-driven and purpose-led design and branding. This thinking led to some fruitful discussions with Elli and Keir, as well as inspiring research across the communities that have touch points with the movement that helped to inform our creative strategy and plan of action.

Creating a brand that connects with the diverse audiences that not-for-profits aim to serve starts with including the right people in the initial discussions. It's crucial to involve more than just the charity stakeholders in the brand's exploration, experimentation and development. Without the insights of a wide range of stakeholders, decisions can become misguided, based on assumptions rather than actual needs, which is why we took a broad approach to our research.


Art Not Evidence has quite a disparate audience it needs to appeal to. How did you navigate that in the creative process? Are there any elements of the brand you feel particularly bridges these audiences?

Not-for-profits broadly face challenges when it comes to engaging disparate audiences with their branding and visual identity, so it’s a common challenge to face in the creative process. Unlike most for-profit brands, movements and causes led by people making change instead of money call for a wholly different approach to branding – there’s a need to focus on the full scope of stakeholder buy-in and input; clear brand articulation that extends beyond a logo, and an emphasis on the value of branding as a living and breathing accompaniment to an organisation doing good.

We designed a brand concept and identity for Art Not Evidence that reaches decision makers in the judiciary with an element of familiarity, as well as resonating with those in the community on-the-ground. By putting the concept of redaction into this new context of cultural and artistic censorship, we generated a whole new meaning that bridges the impact of the movement with those who have decision making powers.


What was most challenging thing about creating the identity for Art Not Evidence? How did you overcome this?

Art Not Evidence is a brand new movement, and with anything new it’s hard to instil credibility. It was important to position the minds behind the project as experts in the field, but also reference the fact that this project is a fresh idea that’s the first in its field and just getting off the ground.

Creating the logo was a huge challenge, especially as we were crafting a brand new identity that involved redaction directly in the wording of the name. We had to ask the question; how can we design a logo that allows people to get familiar with the brand before the brand is immediately redacted? To solve this, we put the logo in two stages, with the face value reading being “Art Not Evidence”, and then at a later stage of the page, the audience sees the redaction of just “Art” without “Not Evidence” to emphasise the concept of censorship. We rolled out the same for the brand assets, acclimatising the audience to the brand concept and identity, before introducing the more complex aspects of redaction.


What advice would you give to other charities or organisations that are trying to engage multiple audiences with potentially different viewpoints?

Invite those audiences in to help inform decision making, and embrace (or accept) an element of imperfection – it’s important to be iterative about the process, and to make room for it to be used in different contexts. If history can tell us anything, it’s that we need to tread carefully in the beginning – the first logo tends to work best with the brand name followed by a recognisable typemark. If we think about the infamous Nike tick, it was first established with the brand name above it, but now the tick remains steadfast in isolation; a universally recognisable mark that resonates worldwide. The same applies to not-for-profit branding.

Another important point is to make sure no element of the brand is neglected. Good not-for-profit branding begins with orienting those early talks about colour, typography and tone of voice into a conversation that listens to the full scope of the community engaging with the organisation. Ultimately, however, it’s important that the identity has a ‘north star’, a focal point that aligns with the values of the organisation, and advocates for the betterment of both the brand and movement.


What is the key to a powerful visual storytelling campaign for a charity or organisation like Art Not Evidence?

Storytelling is more than just a logo in isolation – successful and sustainable branding and storytelling looks like a community of assets that speak to each other in constant creative dialogue. By crafting a solid identity, you begin to unify a cause, communicating what the campaign represents for everyone involved, whilst helping to build a brand with depth and meaning.

Creating a brand in the sector calls for a deft grasp of impact-driven and purpose-led design and branding, taking into account the vast breadth of lived experience and perspective that makes up the audience of your organisation, and creating a visual language that appreciates, accommodates and celebrates those inputs and outcomes.


What’s next for Driftime and Art Not Evidence?

Now launched, Art Not Evidence is a movement with a bright future ahead of them, drafting legislative change that will have a profound impact on the landscape of legal proceedings when it comes to art in court. It’s exciting, and an opportunity for us to see how we can further support the team in their next steps. Watch this space!