Redefining the look and feel of modern philanthropy(Read more)
If Brooklyn were its own city, it would be the third largest in the United States.
And yet, when Brooklyn Community Foundation launched in 2009, Brooklyn nonprofits received just 2% of all NYC foundation funding. Since then, Brooklyn Community Foundation has moved over $100 million to Brooklyn nonprofits, shown up for the borough in times of need, and deployed new models for participatory philanthropy and community engagement.
But Brooklyn deserved more. After nearly 15 years, the foundation understood that to truly make a difference in the status quo, they would need to make a dramatic shift. It was time the brand felt as big as its ambition—that it became an institution as iconic and inclusive as Brooklyn itself. So Mother New York and Mother Design developed a strategy to distance the organization from notions of traditional philanthropy, seen largely today as elitist, dysfunctional, and detached. Brooklyn Community Foundation should be reborn not only in look and feel, we posited, but in name: Brooklyn Org would be the champion for Brooklyn, the new model for community philanthropy, and the destination for all who care.
We saw an opportunity to infuse the vibrancy and richness of the borough into Brooklyn Org’s design. The primary source of inspiration for the wordmark, therefore, was Brooklyn’s densely populated “blocks”—not only the physical structure of the neighborhoods, but the unity and community spirit. The geographic shape of a block’s center courtyard can be seen in the three O’s of “Brooklyn Org,” and is referenced further in the angular cutouts of the remaining letters. The bold mark can be separated to frame content, providing a powerful home to imagery, organization and event names, and taglines.
Community Gothic—a typeface created by the Frere-Jones type foundry of Brooklyn—was a perfect, serendipitously named fit for type, with its diverse styles and human qualities.
For our color palette, we used the Brooklyn flag as our source of inspiration and then infused fresh, bright hues affectionately named after Brooklyn icons: Red Hook, Lavender Lake, Green Lady. This allowed us to honor the borough’s history while injecting a sense of dynamism and modernity. The colors come alive in our layered framing device—inspired by postcards from Brooklyn—that hero the people and landmarks of the borough.
Tonally, we ramped up the emotion, accessibility, and energy of Brooklyn Org’s language. Taglines like “Brooklyn backs Brooklyn” and “With Brooklyn, for Brooklyn” feel choral and anthemic, establishing the organization as a destination for any and all who care, rather than an exclusive option for the privileged few.
It’s not often we have the honor of working with an organization that betters the lives of so many people in such palpable ways, so close to home. So we hope that it’s with renewed, immutable spirit that Brooklyn Org continues to mobilize Brooklynites, spark change, and shine as a beacon of equity and justice for the world.