We Are Advox! Re-Branding Global Voices Advocacy

The name was always there. GVers have been calling our Advocacy project “Advox” in various ways almost since it started, and generally speaking we agree that it's a better name for the project than “Global Voices Advocacy”. Even though it's not a real word, “Advox” seems to capture much of the meaning of “advocate”, but it is shorter, language-agnostic, and more fun to say. Here are a few other reasons why we think this makes sense:

  • “Vox” means “voice” in Latin and “advox” implies the Latin word “advoco“, which is the root of “advocacy” and “advocate”
  • “Advocacy” does not translate well to many other languages
  • It's easier to say: “ad-vox” versus “ad-vo-ca-cy”
  • Advox is not an English word and all else equal, GV wants to be less anglocentric
  • Our Twitter account has always been @advox
  • We control the advox.org domain, which currently redirects to Advocacy site

Recently Ellery (now officially the Advocacy director!) and I dug into the project of re-designing the Advox brand. I wrote this post in an effort to describe our thinking behind the brand we are proposing and ask everyone to share their ideas on how to move ahead with our look.

Short on time? Scroll down and vote for your favorite logo!

For a little history, take in these two logos:

The first is our original Advocacy logo, designed by our then-Design Director Boris Anthony for the nascent Advocacy site which was run by the project's first director, Sami Ben Gharbia. The second is the long-running Advocacy logo designed by me (Jeremy Clarke). As you can see, our first big change was to make Advocacy the core of the brand, de-emphasizing “GlobalVoices”. Both logos essentially match the sizing and placement of text in the main Global Voices logo of the time, but with a red Adinkra and text rather than green and black.

Stick with red and white

Color is extremely important to the effect of any visual identity, and Advocacy already had a strong association with bright red based on its past site designs. We considered other shades of red but ultimately decided to avoid changing something that we think works well.

When we re-launched the Advocacy site using the redesigned Global Voices theme in mid-2014, we used “Advocacy Red” for its header, with a minimalist edit of the old logo in white. The result was striking. We consider this the current “official” Advocacy logo.

Global Voices Advocacy current logo.

 

Capitalization

Capitalization has a huge effect on the essence of any text-based logo. We want to integrate the “GlobalVoices” brand into this logo, and as you can see, it fits very differently depending on which letters appear in capital form.

Possible capitalization combinations, showing LFT Etica font.

Possible capitalization combinations, showing LFT Etica font.

The text for our current Advocacy logo (equivalent to the bottom variant in the image at right) was rendered in all-caps for several reasons. We want to convey a sense of bold action to match our mission, so all caps made sense. Visually, the capitalization also distinguishes the “Advocacy” text from “GlobalVoices”.

On the other hand, the shorter word “advox” offered new layout options that didn't work with “advocacy”. Notably, the “GlobalVoices” text could be tucked into the corner created by the lowercase “d” and “v”, making the logo feel more cohesive, as seen in the first variant in the image at right. Compare that with the fourth variant, which shows the all-caps format. To me the word “ADVOX” is strong but the “GlobalVoices” text doesn't feel as cemented in place. However, this is the option closest to our current logo.

Given that “Advox” isn't a real word, an all-caps version might be interpreted as an acronym rather than a name (A.D.V.O.X). It turns out that “ADVOX” is already an acronym for “Advanced Oxydation” processes, though I doubt many waste water management scientists will be confused by our use of the word.

Overall we are inclined to skip the second and third options because the capital “A” alone bothers us. Personally it feels too “Captain America” to have the big “A” at the start, but the all-caps version avoids this by having all letters the same size. This leaves the first (all-lowercase) and last (all-capitals) options as our main choices for further consideration.

Choosing between similar fonts

The all-lowercase version rendered in various fonts.

The all-lowercase version rendered in various fonts.

While we aren't going to analyze every font out there for appropriateness, we didn't want to stick with the same font as the old logo – Gill Sans, which is also used in the main Global Voices logo – without assessing a few other options.

The capitalization demo above used the font Etica Bold, which is similar to Helvetica in many ways but has slightly more fun letter forms, especially in the bold format, which is very thick. We chose LFT Etica Bold for our headline font in the redesign and have used it in most of our visual branding since then (Community Site, Summit 2015, The Bridge). In many ways, it is similar to or the same as Gill Sans, but there are subtle differences, as you can see in the Lowercase Font Variants graphic.

In addition to these two obvious choices (Gill Sans because it would be a continuation of the existing Advocacy brand and Etica because it participates in our current branding across projects) we also tried Myriad Pro, another similar font that has been used in GV imagery in the past and Helvetica Neue, which was also used in the redesigned site and offers a thinner bold format with tighter glyphs.

As you can see the exact word is very important when choosing a font, and all these fonts render the “vox” part almost exactly the same. Indeed, it is the lowercase “a” that differentiates one from the next. All of these would make perfectly good logos. The final choice of course ends up being one of personal taste.

Currently, we are inclined toward Myriad Pro (third in the graphic) for this particular logo because it has straighter letter forms than Etica without quite the sharp edges of Helvetica Neue.

Trying all the icon positions

Advocacy logo demos with icon in different positions.

Lowercase Etica version with various icon placements.

Aside from the placement, sizing and style of our logo text we want to integrate our icon in the most powerful way we can. We already know that the old position (to the left of the text and about the same height) works pretty well, but what if the new logo worked better with the icon on the right, or a bigger/smaller icon then we had before?

Take a look at the “icon size & placement variants” image and consider which format you like best.

We were surprised by how natural the right-aligned icon looked in these samples. To me, it brings a sense of motion to the logo, and gives the impression of an arrow pointing to the right. Having the icon on the right also differentiates the Advox logo from the main Global Voices one, which can be valuable as long as they still seem related.

Overall, our feeling is that this exercise showed that the icon can work on either side with this logo, so whatever our final font+capitalization choice is, the icon can go on whichever site feels right.

Putting it all together

Our set of final choices for the Advox logo, all set in Myriad Pro.

Our set of final choices for the Advox logo, all set in Myriad Pro.

So now we're left with a dizzying array of logos to choose from by combining capitalization, font and icon placement. Rather than fry everyone's brain with a full grid of them, we'd like to share just a subset of our favorites for consideration.

Specifically, we'd love to narrow it down to a single font for now, which will be Myriad Pro, and only two options for the capitalization (all-lowercase and all-caps). These were the strongest contenders for text options, and for each we'll try the icon on the left and right.

What do you think? Which one conveys the meaning of Global Voices Advocacy the best? Does one strike you as ugly or off-message? Is there a gem from the discard pile (i.e. the images above) that you think we're fools to pass on?

 

Thanks to anyone who read all that and for your feedback!

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