Communities are created and fostered in many ways. Neighborhood development, education, professional associations, and community-based services all aim to build and bridge communities to foster interaction and help members thrive. Connecting with communities has taken more complex forms over the years, and in a digitally-driven world, graphic design is moving closer to the core. Used strategically, graphic design can:

  • Communicate complex information simply and quickly
  • Convey the brand's personality and key traits
  • Communicate the highest aspirations and values of a brand
  • Indicate how forward-moving, active or innovative a brand is reaching

As community-driven organizations and brands work to co-create the future, new design themes are emerging, allowing brands to communicate in fresh and dynamic ways.


Emerging design currencies in forward-moving communities


Energized and Activated

Vibrant colors, bold full-flood layouts, moving lines

In a transformative culture, communities have to demonstrate they are active and energized, not simply reflecting the same-old agendas. Graphic design is symbolizing this departure from status quo with bold color choices, full-flood layouts, and shaping, moving lines that keep audiences engaged in the ever-evolving community action. 

Examples in action

  • InnovateHer is on a mission to decrease the gender imbalance in tech. Working together with national policy makers, local government, schools and industry leaders, they're "creating a UK-wide network of schools-based Academies to tackle inequality, improve young people’s life chances, and help the UK compete on the world stage." InnovateHer uses bold purples and teals to bring energy and disruption to its brand.
  • Makaton uses signs, symbols and speech to help people communicate. "Signs are used with speech in spoken word order. This helps provide extra clues about what someone is saying. Using signs can help people who have no speech or whose speech is unclear. Using symbols can help people who have limited speech and those who cannot, or prefer not to sign." Makaton's bold colors, photo transparencies and use of icons create positive and dynamic energy for the brand.



Human illustrations, badges and wearables.

Communities gather together around shared values, and in doing so, create shared identity. Belonging is a strong theme in innovative communities. Human illustrations, badges around shared values, and wearables that allow community members to champion the community and announce their membership to the broader world around them. 

Examples in action

  • Springster digitally connects marginalized and vulnerable girls around the world. "Featuring content designed for girls and created by girls, the platform puts essential, tailored information directly into their hands, and helps them find meaning and strength in each others' experiences." Springster uses full-color illustrations to showcase the diversity of experiences and identities girls can embody.
  • Do the green thing is a public service for the planet that uses creativity to tackle climate change. "Founded in 2007, Do The Green Thing has spent the last decade working with a global community of creatives including David Shrigley, Paula Scher and Sir Paul Smith to make films, posters, podcasts and products that have inspired more than 45 million people to live more sustainably." Do the green thing uses animated illustrations to engage users and inspire action.
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Participant Leadership

Representation. Authentic photography, connection moments. The age of instagram.

Membership in communities has become much more active, where participants often take a leadership role in shaping the tone, values, and connections of the group. Where communities previously featured leadership, we're now seeing members championed and given the spotlight to reflect a tapestry of perspectives from the group.

Examples in action

  • The Riveter is a co-working community. They envision "a world where workplaces are rooted in equality of opportunity for all, rather than for the select few. And we know women are the catalyst for this change." The Riveter features its members as mentors, guiding future members to success.
  • Georgia Tech University Civil and Environmental Engineering is "dedicated to improving the human condition. People are our priority. The world is our laboratory." CEEatGT features its community members in action -- learning, volunteering, speaking, leading and doing. Civil Engineer Jamie Clark's insight is also featured in our next trend below. 
  • Attria Senior Living is an assisted living community "dedicated to creating vibrant communities where older adults realize healthier, happier, more meaningful lives – trading in loneliness for the company of neighbors, inactivity for movement, and boredom for purposeful engagement." Their stories focus on highlighting the vibrancy and phenomenal histories of members who make and shape their communities.
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Quotes, living interviews, new perspectives.

A vibrant theme in innovative communities is to support the voices and perspectives of the group to foster new interactions. Graphically this is playing out with bold colorful quote blocks featuring fresh insights, challenges and questions for the group to engage around together. 

Examples in action

  • Play like a girl envisions a world where girls confidently, unabashedly and freely reach their full potential. Their programs "reinforce the message that doing anything ‘like a girl’ is positive and powerful. In addition, they aim to strengthen girls' confidence and self-esteem, teach healthy behaviors and improve academic and leadership skills, thereby setting girls on a path to lifelong success." Play like a girl uses graphic blocks to bring inspiring quotes to life with the personality of the brand voice.
  • Dropbox is on a mission to "unleash the world’s creative energy by designing a more enlightened way of working. Back in 2007, that meant designing a simpler way to keep files in sync." Today, it means designing a more creative and enlightened way of working—on files, projects, and more. Dropbox uses bold graphic type to bring creative wisdoms to life and the rally its community members around the shared values of creativity and inspired action.