Stunning Identity + Annual Report Design by Sullivan

You’re invited to join us as we celebrate our 25th anniversary in Chicago May 4-8 with what is sure to be the most inspiring, informational, educational, and talked-about HOW Design Live yet.

Here at HOW, we’re quite used to being blown away by annual report design. The latest to make us look twice—then three times—is the stunning work for The Fund for Global Human Rights by multi-disciplinary brand engagement firm Sullivan. A simple yet bold look that both achieves clarity and leaves a sizable impact on the viewer—and this annual report really sings because of Sullivan’s thoughtful identity design work behind it.

“After a decade in existence, The Fund’s role in the human rights space had expanded significantly, from basic grant making to consultation, networking and regional expertise,”  says John Paolini, executive creative director at Sullivan. “As The Fund approached its 10th year anniversary, it had come to a point of maturity where it needed to more formally connect with and expand its key audience—prospective donors—and share the full impact The Fund’s work had across the globe. With this matured role came an opportunity to reimagine its brand position, identity and its annual ‘Impact Report’ that reflects and captures the spirit of its role in human rights.”


Creative Team: John Paolini, executive creative director; Cassandra Zimmerman, creative director; Todd Wilcox, associate creative director; Jan Sabach, design director; Collin Bennion, senior copywriter; Tina Citron, executive producer; Nicole Ferry, executive director of strategy; The Fund for Global Human Rights, client


Paolini notes that Sullivan’s first step was talking to key stakeholders and donors, at which point the firm realized that The Fund had many different stories they were trying to tell. “All of them were the right kind of stories, but they didn’t ladder up to a bigger point-of-view on how they stood out in the human rights advocacy world,” Paolini says.

“When we started to explore positioning territories for them, it was important for us to clarify who they are not (a NGO) and who they are: a non-profit organization that provides long-term funding and strategic support to help on-the-ground human rights defenders increase their power and impact in six key regions: West Africa, the African Great Lakes, North Africa, Latin America, South Asia and, Southeast Asia.”

Unsurprisingly, that was a huge challenge for Sullivan. The creatives had to figure out how to best communicate The Fund’s mission, build an understanding and inspire action—all around The Fund’s defining elements.

“After we worked together with The Fund to clarify their position and value proposition in the human rights advocacy space, we entered the identity development phase,” Paolini says. “The identity needed to be a hard at work marketing tool, not just a logo. So we started there and played with The Fund’s name typographically using its many elements as building blocks so we can switch emphasis, transforming a name into calls to action. As you can see, the logo is literally designed as modular building blocks that build towards a structure—and it’s a flexible identity that comes to life in their ‘Impact Report.’ That’s where it’s used as as a vehicle to put forth different messages and tie them all together.”

Paolini notes that the creative team’s greatest challenge was “helping a humble organization communicate its value visually and verbally in a way that resonates with all of its constituents. By putting the ‘building block’ idea at the center of The Fund’s brand, we were able to overcome this challenge and find a way for them to emphasize their increased role: making a difference from the ground up and creating real movements that changed lives.”

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Have you created awesome annual report design for a client? We want to see all your client promotions (and more) in HOW’s longest-running design competition, the HOW Promotion & Marketing Design Awards. It’s the only award that specifically recognizes outstanding promotion design work! Whether it’s a self-promo to showcase a design firm’s capabilities, a project that touts a client’s goods, an announcement for a major life event, or a student designer’s résumé or design portfolio, if it’s your finest promotional design work, we want to see it. And you deserve some hard-earned recognition.