Reframing justice

Since 1961, Vera has driven change in the justice system by producing ideas, analysis, and research that inspire changes, and has worked in close partnership with justice system and government leaders to implement them.

Fifty-five years later, in a critical moment for justice reform, Vera is joined by more voices around the country and across party lines than ever before. When they reached out to Hyperakt, they were looking to match the urgency of today’s calls for change with an updated visual identity that would be at the heart of a new website, illustrating both the possibility and promise of working together to find solutions to seemingly intractable problems.

Hyperakt leveraged Vera’s standing as an agent of change in the criminal justice space, positioning them as catalyzers for reform. The idea was to reframe justice – rethink its purpose, involve new voices, and shine a light on the people most affected by its legacy. The notion of reframing justice drove the brand identity and informed the entire digital experience for site. Vera’s new site was awarded the 2017 Webby Award in the Associations category.


The brand story

Our early conversations with Vera quickly got to the heart of their work. By seeing justice through the lens of fairness and human dignity—instead of retribution and punishment—we could begin to reframe the notion of justice in America. The theme of “Reframing Justice” is now at the core of Vera’s brand story and serves as the driving force behind all of the creative work.

A digital experience designed around clarity of purpose

One of the greatest communications challenges faced by organizations that tackle system change is being able to clearly articulate the focus that provides a logical and strategic north star for their work. Through several collaborative card sorting and brainstorming workshops, we helped Vera align internally and identify three primary “commitments”—Securing Equal Justice, Ending Mass Incarceration, and Strengthening Families and Communities. These three related but distinct components of their work help define Vera's role in the justice ecosystem. By breaking these down into more specific "Action Areas" and "Issues" we provided clear paths for exploration and understanding of a vast library of research and analysis produced by Vera over more than half a century.

Artist and illustrator Brian Stauffer created these iconic illustrations to represent Vera's three commitment areas.

Iconography

An icon system provides a visual guide allowing users to quickly identify Vera's multiple action areas throughout the site as they explore content.

A flexible, modular system

Vera's vast digital library spanning 50+ years of work includes a diversity of content types. After conducting an in-depth audit, we used atomic design methodology to build a library of modules and a system of guidelines that underpin how content pieces are displayed, organized and related to each other on the new site. The new system allows Vera to bundle their work into engaging streams using an issue-based taxonomy so users can explore, sort and filter content based on their particular interests.

Collaboration

At every step along the way, we worked side-by-side with Vera. Our collaboration involved countless stakeholder interviews and workshops. It was important that diverse Verans (from all program areas and teams) were able to come together to craft a collective story about their work and its relevance to the outside world. Together, we surfaced insights and ideas, leveraging our combined expertises to build an inspiring brand and digital experience everyone could be proud of.