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Introducing a Revolutionary Voice in Racial Equity

The challenge

Onward’s on a mission to design an equitable world by dismantling systems of oppression. Led by a lifelong educator and organizer and staffed by a small, dedicated team, Onward had the vision, talent and proven impact. What it didn’t have—a brand or digital presence. Onward existed entirely on word of mouth.

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The solution

As our 2019 Grant for Good partner, Onward got themselves a brazen, beautiful identity system, communication strategy and simple website for telling its story loudly and proudly.


After exhaustive visual exploration, we created an assertive, custom-drawn wordmark. Subtle shifts in the counters of the O and D convey forward movement, while the trimmed edges of the letterforms create a sense of solidity, as well as solidarity. The wordmark lends itself to stacking, a demonstration of strength in numbers.

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The wordmark can be stacked and shifted as needed in response to layout, reflecting Onward’s adaptability—the identity, like the organization itself, welcomes change.

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looking back to move onward

Paying homage to protest signs from the Civil Rights Movement, the system draws inspiration from the era’s plainspoken, powerful and unforgettable typographic vernacular.


When broken out from the wordmark, the forward slash functions as a layering, connective or disruptive device. The system’s underlying grid is flexible and cohesive, with images cropped at the same 15 degree angle, adding to an overall sense of progressive momentum.

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pulling the pieces TOGETHER

The device can be used to frame content, and to tether items together or tape over them, creating new ideas and energy.

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A wide range of vibrant and neutral hues establish an unapologetic, uplifting tone. The palette provides abundant opportunities for pairings both striking and more subdued, whatever the occasion may call for.

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visual stories

Onward’s new digital presence is all about making connections, sparking awareness and encouraging curiosity. By posing big questions, the site asks potential partners and supporters to join the march toward equity. We also created a suite of social media templates to help Onward share "postcards from the field," as well as messaging and noteworthy news.


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taking up space

The brand puts humanity front and center, framing people from historically underrepresented groups as the fearless heroes of Onward's story.


Onward urges compassion alongside discomfort to create what its leaders call “productive disequilibrium” through empathy-building exercises, self-interrogation and actionable strategies for dismantling systemic racism. This brand is made to express itself, in all its complexities, as a trusted advisor, activist and builder of a better world to come.

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“I want there to be a place in the world where people can engage in one another’s differences in a way that is redemptive, full of hope and possibility.”

— bell hooks

Brand Guide

As Onward continues to evolve, its growing staff will need tools for ensuring the brand’s consistent, confident expression. In addition to building out a template library in Canva, we compiled brand guidelines, alongside a communication strategy, in one eye-catching, user-friendly resource.

Impact and Awareness

We proudly unveiled Onward’s new identity at Brand New’s First Round Chicago conference to universally positive feedback. As the organization grows into itself, so will the brand. We’re honored to have helped them on their way.