Global Commons Alliance launches new visual identity

After over a year of deep collaboration with design agency Johnson Banks, the Global Commons Alliance Steering Committee and components, as well as with input from various partners, GCA launched its new visual identity at COP28.

The Global Commons Alliance at COP28 in Dubai

The brief was to create a new brand identity and narrative that inspires, engages and activates partners, funders and other stakeholders.

GCA is a complex Alliance composed of over 100 partners and five interconnected components, and our new visual identity needed to be able to represent this complexity in an innovative, yet simple, way. 

In 2020 we identified the lack of a clear visual identity and unifying narrative that matched our ambitions as a risk to our joint mission, reputation and funding capabilities, and the Steering Committee urged us to upgrade accordingly. 

We had been presenting ourselves somewhat neutrally, often academically, within a sector that appears to be developing a generic style that often shares the same color palette and circular, planet-like symbolism – in which the Earth is seen from space, where hardly any of us can go. We needed something more persuasive, something that connected to us being here on Earth – not out in space, and to all the different ways in which the GCA is working.

Through a series of interviews with key internal and external stakeholders, we began by agreeing the core narrative for the Global Commons Alliance. We refined this into a clear and succinct story, using words that everyone was able to sign off on, and that described: the problem we are trying to solve, why it matters, what we’re doing about it, and how we do it. 

The resulting narrative was encapsulated in this phrase:

“Whoever we are, wherever we are we all share something in common: the interconnected natural systems that maintain a stable and resilient planet and keep us alive”.
GCA narrative

GCA narrative from the brand guidelines

Then after choosing between a set of four very different visual routes based on that narrative, the team chose the most innovative route presented by Johnson Banks – one based on the concept of ‘a planet teeming with life’. 

The resulting new logo moved away from the circular camera lens type image to one that now uses a collage of an apricot leaf (symbolizing forests and vegetation) with the name GLOBAL COMMONS ALLIANCE cut out, a snowflake (for climate, water and permafrost) and a hummingbird (for insects, animals and biodiversity).

GCA logo

GCA logo


Each of the five components’ new logos are also leaves with different collage elements that help to tell their unique stories. 

Johnson Banks also created a library of photographic and icon-like elements that can be used to create an unlimited number of collages for presentations, on the website and across social posts. This gave us a suite of high quality, consistent but differentiating graphics that are usable by pretty much anyone on the team.

GCA branded collages

GCA branded collages

A review of the new brand in the magazine ‘Brand Review’, which publishes opinions on corporate and brand identity work said: “Going through their website, the different collages look great and they make the organization look like they have unlimited budget and resources to create custom illustrations for their posts, which, actually, couldn’t be farther from the truth as there was no budget for buying images or fonts and, as a bonus, all templates had to be created in Google Docs and Canva, so this does a whole lot with very little. Overall, it’s a very robust identity that can pretty much tackle any global theme by mixing different spot illustrations and keep things simple, direct, and poignant”

Our new visual identity is designed to help bring about a planet teeming with life: a healthy and thriving global commons. It’s designed to inspire all types of actors to take action that can move us towards the  Safe and Just Earth System Boundaries at speed. We believe it fulfills the original brief, and were delighted to receive such positive feedback on it at COP28 in Dubai.

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