Justified Juror Comments: LIVESTRONG Branding
In 2013, for “Justified: AIGA Design Competition,” a distinguished jury chaired by Clement Mok selected 14 case studies that each serve as an effective tool to explain the role of designers in conceiving and implementing solutions.
Jessica Hische, letterer and procrastiworker, Title Case, San Francisco, California
The brief for this project was very compelling. We’re all familiar with LIVESTRONG and the troubles they’ve encountered because of their leader’s deceit. The way that they repositioned the foundation and focused on the good that it does—without doing a major brand overhaul—was brave and smart.
Brad Johnson, VP, executive creative director, Second Story (now part of SapientNitro), Portland, Oregon
What was inspiring about this submission was thinking about the challenge of rebranding a well-known organization that helps millions of people but is famously associated with a single individual who not only revealed that his celebrity status was illegally achieved, but that he had lied to the entire world for his whole career. What do you change? How do you effectively rebrand that? These designers boldly drive forward, preserving the essence of what is recognizable and reinvigorating the connection between the foundation and its principles and accomplishments, not its former ambassador.
Clement Mok, design and business consultant, The Design Office of Clement Mok, San Francisco, California
Game changer. Moved the needle. Inspirational. Given the close association LIVESTRONG had with Lance Armstrong, it required courage, discipline and smarts to separate the mission of the brand and the “cult of Lance” without losing the core essence of the foundation’s identity. A well-written brief coupled with strong executions.
Josh Rubin, founder and editor in chief, Cool Hunting, New York, New York
Faced with the Lance Armstrong scandal, the foundation could have changed the design radically. Instead, they simply tuned their statement. Design is an exercise in problem solving, and sometimes the right solution is a minor but meaningful tweak.
Christopher Simmons, principal and creative director, MINE™, San Francisco, California
There are two remarkable things about this rebrand. The first is that its visual expression is practically unchanged. Sensibly, the designers recognized and respected the tremendous visual equity of the brand they inherited. The second is that the leadership chose not to rely on data or polling to inform its strategy, but instead relied on its “own strong sense of itself.” This is a remarkable decision given the tens of millions of dollars at stake and the considerable damage LIVESTRONG’s reputation had suffered. This level of self-awareness and confidence is a rare but necessary quality in institutional leadership. As expert as the designers’ strategy and execution was in this effort, the highest kudos must go to LIVESTRONG’s leadership. There is no great design without great clients.
Alina Wheeler, author, Designing Brand Identity, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Many brands that are tied to the reputation of a founder will find this case of great value, as will organizations that need to rebrand, redesign and regroup in the wake of a crisis that threatens the very existence of an organization. The thoughtful intelligence and nuance of this work was only possible because the organization itself was exceedingly clear about their mission and its value. This is a best practice of an evolutionary rebrand as opposed to a revolutionary rebrand.