In early 2023, the National Centre engaged creative agency Storyfolk to work with us to develop our brand identity using this collaborative approach. It was important for us to undertake a design process that facilitated deep engagement and reflection to develop a brand that spoke to different audiences, but none more so than those who we were created for – victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.
Human-centred design and co-design principles form the cornerstone of Storyfolk’s creative process to create work that can resonate deeply with diverse and complex stakeholder groups. Put simply, they centre the people a brand serves (the end user) at the heart of the process, and ensures their voices, knowledge and expertise is utilised, from initiation to completion.
We sat down with National Centre Communications Manager, Ruth Carr and Storyfolk co-founders, Sarah Gross and Cass Mackenzie to reflect on our partnership and explore the value of human-centred design and how it played out in our work together.
What is the inherent value of human-centred design?
Human-centred design and co-design practices look different for different projects, working back from a unique set of goals. Throughout this project, the foremost objective was to consistently foster a secure environment for people to openly express themselves, and for every voice to feel ‘heard’. By embracing this design methodology, we not were not only able to vividly showcase authentic voices and experiences, but create a design that was truly meaningful, impactful and that would achieve what the National Centre has been set up to do – drive action to change the way child sexual abuse is understood and responded to nationally.
What were we trying to uncover using this approach?
The primary objective was to craft a brand infused with hope, that balanced empathy and expertise. To do this we needed the brand to have a distinct character with a human quality that had the ability to resonate with a multitude of stakeholders. Frequently, we encounter sobering statistics concerning child sexual abuse, yet these numbers alone often fall short in conveying the human narratives that are required to truly understand the profound complexity of this issue. Such statistics, while important, lack the capacity to provide victims and survivors with a platform for healing or to catalyse tangible, meaningful action.
“Stories to the Forefront,” was a concept born from engagement with lived and living experience panels, and an exploration of how society typically discusses child sexual abuse.
To represent the individuality of each victim and survivor’s story, written accounts were transformed into bespoke thumbprint illustrations. These thumbprints symbolise the National Centre’s unwavering commitment to driving change and its collaborative stance with victims and survivors.
How did human centred design look for the National Centre?
Empathy at the core: Extensive stakeholder consultation was a cornerstone of our approach with a series of face-to-face and digital workshops. This extended far and wide, centring on victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, but inclusive of industry representatives, staff members, the leadership team, the National Centre Board, and various levels of government and advisory groups. This allowed people’s voices, experiences and perspectives to be authentically captured, and fostered a deeply rewarding and inclusive experience for all involved. As a result, there is a strong connection to the National Centre brand, amplifying the commitment to create tangible change and ignite a collective dedication to address child sexual abuse.
Define: A comprehensive “research and discovery” phase, consisted of desktop research, interviews, surveys and observations. This allowed us to understand deeply the National Centre, its history and context, the wider stakeholder and advocate landscapes, and what was learned through the 2017 Royal Commission. This helped to define the challenge we were trying to solve and use that as the north star throughout the creative process.
Ideation: With knowledge gained through the engagement undertaken, we brought together a cross-disciplinary knowledge base of researchers, psychologists, industry professionals, government bodies and subject matter experts into a design brainstorming process. We actively encouraged the team to think creatively and use design as a driving force to create a brand that would stand out within the landscape and positively impact the people it serves. “Alignment check-ins”, further consultation and testing allowed key concepts to be further ideated resulting in a preferred design direction.
Iterative Design and prototyping: Once the visual direction and underpinning brand story was approved, a series of design iterations evolved. Throughout this, the goal was to create a brand identity that perfectly balanced empathy and expertise, while ensuring victims and survivors could see themselves, their stories and perspectives clearly reflected.
This wasn’t just about creating a powerful brand, it was about infusing it with a compelling narrative that could deeply resonate with the audience.
Reflections from the team
For those who joined us in the rebranding process, we offer our heartfelt thanks. Your courage and wisdom emboldened us to create a brand that was bold yet compassionate, and one that truly reflects your stories. Your participation and stories have touched us, and words cannot convey our gratitude.
To other organisations undertaking brand design processes, we hope these reflections provide some insights to the benefit and strength of using a human centred design to illicit a narrative and identity that is authentic and unique.
To Storyfolk, our creative partner, we thank you for your care, your expertise and commitment.