The first major act of Tony Abbott’s newly elected government was to dismantle the Climate Commission. And, as the only independent body dedicated to bringing climate change information to the public, it was a marker for what was to come.
Australians didn’t take the news too well. With the outcry that followed, the commissioners thought they might actually be able to start anew if they made the most of the moment. So they approached Agency to help launch a new organisation in the Commission’s wake: The Climate Council.
Careening through Continuity and Change
There were two main requirements for the new brand: 1) it had to maintain a clear sense of continuity while being something that could stand confidently as a new entity, and 2) it had to be finished yesterday. In making the most of the country’s attention, timing was crucial, and the first round of concepts were turned around in 3 hours. Focused on exploring a number of alternatives quickly, this gave us enough to concretely discuss what they did and did not want for the organization, and allowed for decision-making on the spot.
After a number of brief iterations, the final logo references the typography, colour, and double C of the original while striking out into its own territory. It gave us enough of a style and clarity of direction to start getting the organization out there.
Turning on a dime to pull in the dollars
While the logo was progressing, we worked with Chief Commissioner Tim Flannery on a straight-to-camera call for support, and built a bare-bones splash page to get sign ups and donations coming in as soon as possible. With the Council handling press releases and interviews, the media latched onto the launch and it became one of the lead stories in the country for the following week.
As the abolishment tapped into the national anxiety about the new Abbott Liberal government, the launch of the Council gave people hope, and donations started flooding in.
Surpassing even their loftiest dreams, the Council’s ability to respond in the moment helped them crowdfund over $1m in just over a week.
Enough for more than a year of their expected operating expenses.
The calm after the climate-science-crowdfunding-storm
The Climate Council made the most of their momentum by launching 2 reports, a video and many shareable social media graphics in their initial week. But, while it undoubtedly has its place, a rapid-response and somewhat intuitive approach to design isn’t often the right approach for communications that need to last the distance.
Once the heat of the launch died down, we were able to take a step back and create a design system that the Council could use for years to come.
The majority of the work focused on the majority of their output: reports, both in print and online. As a voice of science made for to the broader community, these use illustrations and generous type to make reports accessible, and are set up as easy-to-use templates so they can be rolled out without too much effort.
We also developed straightforward ways to translate the often dense charts and maps into digestible pieces of information, and provided them with a broad suite of flexible social media templates. They could now create everything from myth-busting posts (that could be put together by campaigners in minutes), to bold statements, illustrations, and more detailed examinations of data.
Over the years we’ve worked on countless other pieces for the Council, including a range of videos and shareable microsites that break down complex science and political realities in fun, interactive ways. More importantly, they’ve been able to take the design systems we created and roll them out internally (and with other contractors) with confidence, which is really what we’re all about.
Our work with the Climate Council was (and continues to be) some of our most fun and rewarding. They way they’ve continued to use it and expand on it over the years reminds us why we do what we do—we help others do good, better—and we’re so proud of what they’ve been able to achieve.
No government will be trying to shut them down again anytime soon. Australia’s leading voice for independent climate science information is here to stay.