Launched in 2012, UNHCR Innovation is a group within the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that serves as a catalyst to “creatively address challenges faced by uprooted or stateless people worldwide” working collaboratively with its parent group that operates in more than 125 countries and staffs over 8,000 people, all working to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. UNHCR Innovation recently introduced a new identity designed by Brooklyn, NY-based Hyperakt.
The primary logo visualizes UNHCR Innovation’s role in enabling an engaged, dynamic network. The olive leaf is the simplest and most recognizable element of the UNHCR parent logo. By taking this idea of the leaf, a transformative, transparent, and global network is created in the UNHCR Innovation mark. This global synthesis speaks to the hope found in future, collaborative solutions.
UNHCR Innovation identity guidelines
The previous logo was a bit of a mess with stems cut out of the word “INNOVATION” in haphazard ways but, in its defense, it did communicate that it was about breaking common ways of thinking and acting differently. The new logo feels decidedly UN-ish without feeling like yet another UN logo as it uses the de facto UN blue and house font of Helvetica but the new icon — built from an olive leaf shape that comes from the UN olive wreath — is a beautiful, surprising addition.
The olive leaf shape in the icon is pretty basic but the use of it in generating a highly dimensional icon is a great feat. The connection between the different sizes is perfectly managed and makes for an icon that looks great big or small. The animation presented is quite nice and this could still be animated another dozen different, excellent ways. The typography is as good as it gets when dealing with dry-as-cardboard Helvetica.
The alternate uses of the icon as signifiers for “Explore”, “Connect”, and “Amplify” are a clever extension if perhaps not different enough but it points to the potential of the olive leaves to convey different kinds of abstract ideas through different configurations. In application, not much to see, other than big fields of blue and white and the tidy placement of the logo and type. Overall, this wins on the strength (and oxymoronically, the delicate nature) of the icon.