Established this year, Race Against Dementia is a charity with the mission to raise money to fund breakthrough and innovative dementia research launched by famed Formula 1 driver Sir Jackie Stewart, whose wife of 54 years, Helen, has recently been suffering from the brain disease. Kickstarted with £1 million from Stewart, the charity is looking to make an impact fast by helping find a cure to dementia within the couple’s lifetime. The identity for Race Against Dementia has been designed by Brand Union.
Building on Sir Jackie’s desire to fuel his project with the energy of Formula 1; Brand Union began by creating the name Race Against Dementia, bridging the gap between Sir Jackie’s past and the urgency of the charitable cause.
The second stage involved creating a bold brand identity that is memorable, disruptive and expresses the charity’s story. The new logo for the brand is the distillation of this identity: a deliberate and graphic fragmentation of the letter D that highlights the distortion and disorientation experienced by those suffering from dementia, whilst also harnessing the speed and thrill of motorsport.
The logo and identity build on Sir Jackie Stewart’s racing history and Formula 1 association with a bold, attention-grabbing aesthetic and custom font that integrate the notion of dementia through subtle but abrupt design elements. The logo’s condensed structure and rhythm is disrupted by the broken “D” that, in its italic depiction, alludes to racing, and in its disjointed appearance, represents dementia. It’s a surprisingly elegant and powerful combination that, on paper, would have probably felt impossible to solve in a way that was tasteful or appropriate. In the standalone “D” I keep wanting to see the negative space “1” from the Formula 1 logo, which is an indication of how well this logo builds on the legacy of the driver.
Alongside this, Brand Union developed a visual language that will provide a foundation for the whole brand. This includes a custom-designed typeface (named ‘Helen’) created in partnership with font foundry Colophon, that expresses the visual fragmentation of the logo; a toolkit for photographic treatment using an archive of photos from Sir Jackie and Lady Helen’s life; and a direct and vibrant colour palette that picks up Sir Jackie’s Scottish Heritage and the colour of his cars, French Racing Blue.
The custom font by Colophon Foundry is what gives the identity its strongest voice. It’s amazing what an impact that shift in each letter makes in creating a sense of dissonance and that something is wrong within something that’s so familiar.
The identity relies on archival images of the Stewarts, which gives the charity a highly personal presence and, again, builds on the attraction to Formula 1 to create another level of connection to the initiative. Some will likely point out “that blue” again and, while yes, it’s that blue again it at least has conceptual relevance in that it was the color of Stewart’s car. Overall, this identity is very well handled and manages to bring two wildly different topics together in a way that is meaningful and, hopefully, provokes action.