Established in 2009 by actors Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher as DNA Foundation but renamed in 2012, Thorn is a nonprofit organization that builds technology to defend children from sexual abuse. Collaborating with technology companies, NGOs, law enforcement, and government, their goal is to stop the spread of child sexual abuse material and child trafficking. As one example of their work, Thorn built Spotlight, an app that scans the online commercial sex market to find children (nearly 2,000 so far) and identify their traffickers (more than 2,000 so far) and is used by law enforcement in all 50 states. Last month, Thorn introduced a new identity designed by Wolff Olins.
To express their purpose, the team crafted a new manifesto, ‘Until every child can be a kid’. This brand narrative, built on audience insights, encapsulates what THORN is all about - restoring the basic right of a child to be safe, curious and happy.
THORN’s name came from the idea that ‘the thorn protects the rose’. Building on this, the team’s concept is born from THORN’s unique ability to mobilize countless partners, and that it takes more than one thorn to defend the rose.’
Streamlined, organic and gestural in nature, the new thorn symbol is featured in groups to express unity, strength in numbers and an active defense. In-use, the system also expresses THORN’s reliance on its community and partners. The new wordmark is a sharper and more solid type treatment signaling THORN’s maturity and strength.
The old logo was bordering on okay. The thorn was sharp but its placement made it look more like a weird accent over the “o” instead of a thorn and the “r” was very distracting and unnecessary since they already had the thorn represented in the icon. Not that there was any reason to, but I hadn’t thought about how difficult it could be to represent a single thorn graphically as an icon since there isn’t much to a thorn. The new icon is a good interpretation, looking sharp and angled but still kind of weird as a standalone graphic device for a logo. The new wordmark, oddly, keeps the weird-“r”-equity from the previous logo and gives the uppercase rendition an awkward cut on its leg, which becomes distracting. I understand that it also adds a layer of distinction but, still, it’s kind of awkward. The “N” is pointy and thorny, so that’s good.
In application, the wordmark can be easily separated from the icon and the icon is used in a concentric circle pattern of thorns, which is the best expression of the brand — a kind of multi-layered shield of protection swarming around a possible victim or, also, a group of people and organizations banding together and being stronger in numbers and coordination. Most companies and organizations shy away from sharp (literally sharp) graphic elements because they are deemed too harsh or unfriendly so it’s great to see this organization adopt this kind of look to give it a sense that its work is uncomfortable and emotionally difficult and that it has to be on the offensive.
In some of the applications, the circled thorns also come across as sparks of energy and hope. The copywriting and mission statements are succinct and powerful too: “Defend Happiness”, “Until every child can be a kid”, and “Building technology to keep children safe”. They are all short, clear, and to the point. Overall, this is a good evolution and one that could help the organization achieve broader public recognition.