Established in 2004 in Cambridge, UK, Open Knowledge is a worldwide non-profit network of people that advocate and campaign for the open release of information, particularly at national or large scale, and who monitor the level of openness worldwide. They are the organization behind CKAN, the leading open-source data portal platform where other governments and organizations can host and organize their data, and the Open Data Index, that tracks which countries have open data sets in different categories. Earlier this year, Open Knowledge introduced a new identity designed by London-based johnson banks.
[The identity] was sourced directly from the data collected in one of their landmark projects, the Global Open Data Index. We extrapolated the symbol directly from the datasets of the then 72 countries in the Index, showing how open (green) or closed (red) their data is. We then built a scheme around what was swiftly nicknamed the ‘data earth’ and a shortened version of their name, Open Knowledge. The symbol is designed to work on multiple levels, as an ‘earth’, as an eye, and as an ‘O’ for ‘Open’.
The old logo represented the full name of the organization, Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF), but even with that in mind, it wasn’t a particularly good logo yet not one of the worst Befores we’ve seen. In contrast to its predecessor’s lack of meaning, the new logo has a strong concept behind it and a great execution to boot. Based on the Open Data Index, each visible diameter of the circle represents a country and each country has a red line (representing lack of data sets) and a green line (representing available open sets in different categories), giving the logo a rhythm that isn’t arbitrary but founded on the very data the organization promotes. One of the things I like about this logo is that it very quickly communicates that there is positive (green) and negative (red) associated with it, so it’s not just another feel-good logo.
The radial execution with the two segments yields an “O” in the center, for openness, which is a great bonus for an already strong logo. The inside can also be exchanged to represent different countries and include messaging, making it more flexible than it would appear.
Not many applications to see but not many that are needed. This is one of those projects where having a recognizable endorsing logo is more important than cool layouts and fancy photography. Having this visual identifier that captures the current and increasing appreciation of data visualization can help unify all the global groups and all the varied projects. It’s also a quick catalyst for conversation about its meaning, prompting an easy explanation that can summarize the more complex ambitions of Open Knowledge.