“There is no globally recognized logo for human rights. Together we can close this gap. Join the greatest creative challenge in history and submit your logo design now.”
This is the opening line that visitors to the recently launched HumanRightsLogo.net are greeted with. A call to (friendly) arms for all designers out there to create a universally understood logo, or symbol, to signify “human rights”, with a prize awarded by a prestigious jury of humanitarians. Though the premise and the problem seem simple enough, the undertaking is conceptually enormous, and with over 2000 submissions and growing, very few, in my opinion, are hitting the mark.
“Human Rights” is a huge and complex issue with many facets and definitions, perhaps not easily stamped with a singular mark. Having said that, pouring through just a portion of the thousands of submissions it’s very interesting to see visual metaphors and design solutions that many end up at, a kind of universal language that creatives from all over the world feel best represent this issue. Blue is a predominant color, perhaps due to the peacekeeping efforts of the UN or the tranquility many find by staring into the blue sky, and bulbous dots representing heads of people as they curl around each other or act as a framing device. And the ubiquitous “equal sign” can be seen on a large number of logos, a telling solution that mathematics may truly be the only universal language. Below I have gathered several marks and logos that I felt stood out or conceptually, at least, told a bigger story:
These were among the cleanest and most clearly articulated of the logos I combed through, but even some of these are flawed. The heart shape, though well meaning, is not an internationally known symbol, and simplistic forms of figures may reference humanity, but don’t exactly speak to “rights”. Perhaps the most interesting idea of the whole batch is hardly a logo at all, but instead an action that the majority of the world could replicate easily. Submitted by “RoisaBidin”, a hand gesture (seen above in the bottom right hand corner) – two fingers rising in solidarity, bound by black tape – speaks far more powerfully to human rights than many of the myriad of carefully designed identities do.
Upon seeing the concept my mind immediately went to two distinct but conceptually joined mental images, one being the almost global two finger “peace” sign, and the other being the photos taken of Iraqi and Afghan citizens voting freely and proudly showing their inked fingers, a sign that they participated in something bigger than themselves, and that their voices will be heard. The human hand and it’s obvious universality speaks far more powerfully to the idea of global human rights, and to co-opt a simple gesture that millions can adopt, almost instantly, and use in marches and parades and protests, is actually quite brilliant. Imagine people all over the world performing the same action, sharing that idea and image in a way that a logo could not. The fact that it also happens to form the letter “H” is more serendipitous than a vital component of the idea. Even if the gesture didn’t happen to aid in spelling the English word “Human Rights” the symbolism behind the action is more than enough to visually explain the issue it represents.
The “design a Human Rights logo” competition is certainly well intentioned, and with backers like Google and jury members comprised of former presidents and Nobel Prize winners it’s determined to make a big splash. But perhaps the challenge, as disproved by the inventive hand sign, was too limiting – sometimes “design” doesn’t need to take the form of a logo but instead should be exercised to simply produce the smartest solution to the task, especially if that outcome attempts to involve all people, in something unique and easily performed and understood.
Visit HumanRightsLogo.net here.