Opinions on corporate and brand identity work.

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Acumen’s Manifesto as Logo

Acumen Logo, Before and After

Established in 2001, Acumen (previously Acumen Fund) is a non-profit organization that “raises charitable donations to invest in companies, leaders, and ideas that are changing the way the world tackles poverty.” Acumen invests in companies with a focus on operations in East Africa, West Africa, India, Pakistan or Latin America in the sectors of agriculture, energy, education, health, housing, or water and, most importantly, that they make a product or deliver a service that addresses a critical need for the poor. Over the weekend, Acumen shortened its name, introduced a new identity designed by London-based johnson banks, and launched a new website by briteweb.

Their ‘A’ is deliberately left unfinished, to communicate that their work is never complete, that they don’t have all the answers, and that they can’t change the way the world tackles poverty alone. The new brand colours, typefaces and angles are carried across a comprehensive rebrand.
johnson banks case study

Acumen Logo and Identity

Main logo.

Acumen: it starts by standing with the poor, listening to voices unheard, and recognizing potential where others see despair.

It demands investing as a means, not an end, daring to go where markets have failed and aid has fallen short. It makes capital work for us, not control us.

It thrives on moral imagination: the humility to see the world as it is, and the audacity to imagine the world as it could be. It’s having the ambition to learn at the edge, the wisdom to admit failure, and the courage to start again.

It requires patience and kindness, resilience and grit: a hard-edged hope. It’s leadership that rejects complacency, breaks through bureaucracy, challenges corruption, and does what’s right, not what’s easy.

Acumen: it’s the radical idea of creating hope in a cynical world. Changing the way the world tackles poverty and building a world based on dignity.

Acumen Logo and Identity

Manifesto broken down into various logos.


Acumen Logo and Identity

Logo with message.

Acumen Logo and Identity

Logo with stats.

Acumen Logo and Identity

Logo with the people it helps.

Acumen Logo and Identity

Logo with the people that help (board members in this case).

Animated with live action footage.

The old logo was… it was something and that something was in a circle accompanied by some second-rate typography in both all lowercase and all uppercase. The new logo, or, well, the new family of logos is quite the contrary and crystal clear what it is: it’s spelled out right there. Built from bits and pieces of Acumen’s new cornerstone manifesto, the logo is one more in a rising trend of what johnson banks’ is calling “active identities” and they’ve been on a kick with them lately — see Cystic Fibrosis Fund — and build on a legacy of identities like We Are Macmillan and YWCA. Acumen’s logo features a sliced slab serif “A” used XL accompanied by a waterfall of Avant Garde, starting with the name in bold and then one of the manifesto excerpts or some other sentence below, staggered in a lighter weight. Love the half “A”, hate the use of Avant Garde. The idea is quite brilliant and the whole concept of pushing the manifesto through the logo is an excellent way of building awareness but I wish the typography was more reminiscent of, like, today and the twenty-first century rather than the 1960s and 70s. Of course, the people donating to Acumen and the business leaders seeking investment don’t care about such historical typographic conundrums, so the identity is obviously successful in the marketplace — although I do question the readability of light, tightly-tracked uppercase writing, it starts getting fuzzy at smaller sizes.

Nonetheless, despite my grievances about designers using musty typography, this identity cuts starkly (in a positive way) against the presence of other non-profits and helps establish what Acumen is with every single impression.

Acumen Logo and Identity

Folder cover.

Acumen Logo and Identity

Journal covers.

Acumen Logo and Identity

App and icons.

Acumen Logo and Identity




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