Established in 1977, Women’s and Girls’ Emergency Centre (WAGEC) is a nonprofit organization in Sydney, Australia, that offers shelter and support services to women and children who are at-risk and victims of domestic violence and homelessness. Based in Redfern, a suburb of Sydney, WAGEC, in partnership with four specialist service providers — Wesley Mission, St Vincent de Paul Society, NSW, Jewish House and Stepping Out Housing Program — operates short-term accommodation, providing a total of 90 crisis bed accommodation on any given night as well as 34 transitional properties for medium-term housing. Recently, WAGEC introduced a new identity designed by Sydney-based For The People.
WAGEC aims to raise awareness around domestic violence leading to homelessness, and provide hope and shelter for those in need. They go goes against the prevailing view that women in need are powerless victims, when in fact they are empowered survivors. The organisation is striking a clear stance around this misunderstood area, harking back to its grassroots beginnings. WAGEC is about women supporting women. The identity responds to the greater community of women and drives a conversation and understanding about supporting each other and building a community of assistance. The new logo responds to the urgency of their work, a shelter that points women to that critical piece of information in times of need - their contact details.
As is always the case with valiant nonprofits, it pains me to negatively critique their previous logos but their old logo was not good. It had the right idea of what I think is an older person stretching their arm to protect a younger person but the tentacle swooshy arm was too weird and the typography was far too playful and cheerful for the organization. The new logo, in part, looks like a warning or directional sign on a building or piece of machinery, giving it a sense of urgency and something to be aware of. I hadn’t quite read it as an abstract house until I read the description — I mostly saw an arrow but in combination with the idea that it’s a shelter, it becomes a more powerful graphic. Pairing the logo with the website, address, and phone number is also a strong message to convey the availability and accessibility of this service, making sure anyone can connect with them easily. Execution-wise, the condensed sans serif used is not a typographic usual suspect, giving this a distinct aesthetic amplified by the vertical use. I really like how the word “EMERGENCY” stands out, being the closest to the apex of the arrow/shelter and the overall balance, even with the shorter “CENTRE”, is very well done. The “W” social media avatar may be too much of a reduction from the main logo but it’s definitely well done and a very strong mark on its own.
Communicating awareness and understanding of their services through imagery has been difficult in the past, due to the sensitivity surrounding their work. They previously relied on non-specific stock imagery of women and families - used in order to protect and respect the anonymity of The People who have relied on the services of the shelter. Today they lean on a empowered illustrations created from a group of contemporary female illustrators who are showing their support for women and the shelter.
As with the logo, the old identity had all the right intentions but it didn’t have much impact nor was it particularly engaging. The new identity uses the visual language of 1950s protest placards and posters which is slowly turning into a bit of a cliché as it’s a very often used reference that may be losing its impact. Still, the posters are striking, engaging, and well executed. At times, the logo gets a little lost with the messaging overpowering the place where one can get help.
‘We’re the Women’ is the art exhibition that celebrates the heart of WAGEC - women supporting women. 16 leading female illustrators from around Australia have each donated a bespoke artwork that celebrates WAGEC’s approach to working with women and families in crisis. Signed and numbered high-quality art prints, as well as small-batch poster prints, are available online at wagewomen.org These images will also be used as part of the imagery library for the brand across applications.
As part of the official launch of the identity that will take place on October 3, WAGEC worked with 16 Australian women illustrators to create prints for a fundraising Exhibition — prints available online with proceeds helping WAGEC — as well as becoming part of the visual language for the identity, which add a great element to the posters to make them more relevant and easier to discern what the organization is about.
The rest of the applications are all strong and effective, making very good use of the single condensed typeface in a variety of ways. Overall, this new identity definitely increases the impact of the organization not just visually but also verbally through honest and empowering messaging.