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Branding Asperger’s To Evoke Real People, Not Just Rain Man

The branding campaign speaks to those with Asperger’s — and visually represents what it’s like to have it.

Thanks to Hollywood, lots of folks think of autism spectrum disorder as Dustin Hoffman counting matches. That’s, of course, a gross simplification of a broad, complex, and deeply mysterious set of psychological conditions. Here to dispel some of the myths is UK-based The Click Design with an identity package and ad campaign for Asperger East Anglia.

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The design had to appeal to people with Asperger’s, too.

Asperger East Anglia is a Norwich-based nonprofit that helps people living with Asperger syndrome (a high-functioning autism spectrum disorder) and their families. Recently, the organization tapped the creative minds at The Click to revamp its branding — which, to judge by a cursory Google search, looked like a middle-school logo roughed out in Kid Pix — in order to attract new sources of revenue. The new scheme also needed to help “raise awareness of both Asperger East Anglia and Asperger syndrome itself,” The Click’s Callum Liddle tells Co.Design.

The Click’s initial idea was to exchange the “P” in Asperger for a question mark, “the idea being to question public assumptions of Asperger Syndrome,” Liddle says. But The Click faced an added challenge: The design had to appeal to people with Asperger’s, too — those who ultimately stand to benefit from the rebrand. Meeting with Asperger East Anglia, perusing medical journals, and talking to people with Asperger’s, the designers quickly realized that they had to toss out anything figurative. ‘One symptom of Asperger syndrome is an acutely literal use and understanding of language,’ Liddle wrote on Identity Designed. “It can make navigating the subtle intricacies of day-to-day communication, something many take for granted, substantially more difficult.”

So they pared down the brand to “visually represent this straightforward and honest nature.” The result is the clear, crisp, typographic arrangement you see here. The logo is dead simple: just the letter A, and it’s used to lead the bold, literal titles (“the message,” “the contact,” etc.) that attach to each element of the stationary suite. Much of the brand identity is done up in Akzidenz Grotesk, the 19th-century typeface on which Helvetica was modeled.

The pared down brand ?visually represents this straightforward nature.”

The Click also whipped up a clutch of posters that reprises the nonprofit’s fresh, minimal brand identity. They show head shots of clients at Asperger East Anglia and simple typographic messages: ?People with Asperger syndrome can often perform extraordinarily well with just a little support?; ?Almost everyone with Asperger syndrome has a unique interest or talent?; ?People with Asberger syndrome can often be concerned about their relationship to others?; and so on.

The posters, which Asperger East Anglia is distributing throughout the region, are designed to both raise the nonprofit’s visibility and combat the social stigma associated with Asperger’s. What’s more, they put a real face — make that several real faces — on a family of disorders whose public image to this point has been some guy in a movie.

[Images courtesy of Click Design]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.

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