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In Pictures: 100 Years Of Design At Planned Parenthood

"Our voice is your cool aunt who’s going to give you expert life advice."

  • <p>Margret Sanger, pictured here in 1916 with one of her children, founded Planned Parenthood in Brooklyn in the same year.</p>
  • <p>Enovid was the first brand of hormonal birth control available to women in the United States.</p>
  • <p>Fania Mindell, pictured here in 1917, helped Margaret Sanger open the first Planned Parenthood clinic, in Brownsville.</p>
  • <p>In 1930, Sanger opened a clinic in Harlem with the political and social support of local activists, like Mary Mcleod Bethune.</p>
  • <p>Planned Parenthood placed this ad in the <em>New York Times</em> in 1980.</p>
  • <p>Planned Parenthood ran this ad in 1992 to publicize a pro-choice march in Washington D.C.</p>
  • <p>This ad dates from 1972 and takes a more lighthearted approach to promoting contraception.</p>
  • <p>A 1989 <em>Time</em> ad showed Joe Scheidler, an anti-choice organizer, and included cut-out messages to send to the president in support of the organization.</p>
  • <p>Planned Parenthood used this poster from 1989-1990 and represents the organization's education mission.</p>
  • <p>Planned Parenthood ran this at in the <em>New York Observer</em> on December 18, 1991, to protest Title X funding restrictions.</p>
  • <p>A billboard from an Arizona affiliate of Planned Parenthood.</p>
  • <p>This flyer advertised a Planned Parenthood meeting in 1932 in Harlem.</p>
  • <p>Today, the organization uses pink in its branding, a subversive strategy to proudly wear a color that's traditionally aligned with women.</p>
  • <p>The messaging today is angled around supporting women. Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood's president, shown here in 2013.</p>
  • <p>A bus ad placed by an Albuquerque, New Mexico, affiliate in the 1960s emphasized choice.</p>
  • <p>A 1980s ad asked people to support more funding to modernize birth control.</p>
  • <p>Planned Parenthood borrowed from comic book graphics in this 1986 PSA for condoms.</p>
  • 01 /18

    Margret Sanger, pictured here in 1916 with one of her children, founded Planned Parenthood in Brooklyn in the same year.

  • 02 /18

    Enovid was the first brand of hormonal birth control available to women in the United States.

  • 03 /18

    Fania Mindell, pictured here in 1917, helped Margaret Sanger open the first Planned Parenthood clinic, in Brownsville.

  • 04 /18

    In 1930, Sanger opened a clinic in Harlem with the political and social support of local activists, like Mary Mcleod Bethune.

  • 05 /18

    Planned Parenthood placed this ad in the New York Times in 1980.

  • 06 /18

    Planned Parenthood ran this ad in 1992 to publicize a pro-choice march in Washington D.C.

  • 07 /18

    This ad dates from 1972 and takes a more lighthearted approach to promoting contraception.

  • 08 /18

    A 1989 Time ad showed Joe Scheidler, an anti-choice organizer, and included cut-out messages to send to the president in support of the organization.

  • 09 /18

    Planned Parenthood used this poster from 1989-1990 and represents the organization's education mission.

  • 10 /18

    Planned Parenthood ran this at in the New York Observer on December 18, 1991, to protest Title X funding restrictions.

  • 11 /18

    A billboard from an Arizona affiliate of Planned Parenthood.

  • 12 /18

    This flyer advertised a Planned Parenthood meeting in 1932 in Harlem.

  • 13 /18

    Today, the organization uses pink in its branding, a subversive strategy to proudly wear a color that's traditionally aligned with women.

  • 14 /18

    The messaging today is angled around supporting women. Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood's president, shown here in 2013.

  • 15 /18

    A bus ad placed by an Albuquerque, New Mexico, affiliate in the 1960s emphasized choice.

  • 16 /18

    A 1980s ad asked people to support more funding to modernize birth control.

  • 17 /18

    Planned Parenthood borrowed from comic book graphics in this 1986 PSA for condoms.

  • 18 /18

Planned Parenthood celebrated its centenary on October 16. While the group has always stood for reproductive freedom—acting as a health care organization, abortion provider, and advocate for women's rights—the way Planned Parenthood shares its message has certainly changed since Margaret Sanger opened the nation’s first birth control clinic in Brownsville, Brooklyn, in 1916. In the past it was through evocative posters, ads, and billboards; today it's through human-centered design.

"[Planned Parenthood] has always been a brand that has been defying and defining what generations think about and want in terms of access and control of their bodies," says Dawn Laguens, chief experience officer and executive vice president at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

For many generations, Planned Parenthood communicated with powerful billboards and print ads brimming with strong language, illustrations, and photos. In the 1930s, the organization used bold typography on posters and flyers publicizing its meetings and rallies. In the '40s, infographics clarified and explained who used the services of the Birth Control Federation of America. Another poster, likely from that era but undated, used an illustrated flow chart to show how education and outreach can lead to community benefits like healthier families, fewer slums, and less child labor.

In 1980, a PSA about access to contraception and abortion in the New York Times read: "The time has come again when Americans must fight for their freedom." In 1987, a poster proclaimed, "Our big, brave leaders have picked their next target" with the photograph of a young woman. A 1989 ad in Time read, "Should a woman's private medical decisions be made by a man with a bullhorn? Don't wait until women are dying again."

"There was an era where we had to fight to secure [rights]," Laugens says about how the language has evolved over the decades. "You only get what you fight for and you only get to keep what you fight to hold onto."

Fast forward to 2013, when supporters surrounding Planned Parenthood Federation President Cecile Richards brandished signs that read "stand with women," and "protect women's health." Today's audiences are more likely to encounter personal narratives featuring real patients and providers—as the organization evolves from issuing public service announcements to telling stories that embody the slogan "Care. No Matter What."

"In the last five years there's been a real shift to a bolder, more story-oriented face of the brand where people who work for Planned Parenthood and people who use Planned parenthood are given the mediums and the avenues to tell the story for the brand," Laugens says. "The best way we reach people is through word of mouth and the new megaphone is social media."

Design at Planned Parenthood, for decades, was focused on graphics and visual communication. But as the organization evolves, it's thinking about design in terms of experience: how people use its clinics, how providers speak to patients, and how the brand comes across through messaging. (The organization's experience design work with Ideo won an Innovation by Design Award this year.)

"Our voice is your cool aunt who’s going to give you expert life advice," Laguens says. "When we speak in the voice, it’s one that is reassuring and also inspiring to people. We are, in my mind, not a talking brand; we’re an experience brand . . . As we look at the next generation of young people, we’re using the 'one mouth two ears theory' of human-centered design, which is listening to young people and their values and how they see themselves as the most emergent, diverse generation and making sure Planned Parenthood is a brand that aligns with them and their hopes and dreams."

Here's to another 100 years (and more) of Planned Parenthood.

[All Images (unless otherwise noted): © Planned Parenthood]

Slideshow Credits: 01 / Photo: courtesy Library of Congress; 02 / Photo: courtesy Library of Congress; 03 / Photo: courtesy Library of Congress; 04 / Photo: courtesy Library of Congress;

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