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December 18, 2015

The making of CHAMPS

In show business, the triple threat is singing, dancing, acting. Do all three well, and you can be a star.
 
In logo development, the triple threat is:
 
1) Project credibility 

2) Communicate an idea 

3) Evoke a feeling.

When a single logo accomplishes all three, it makes an indelible first impression for a brand.

But some identity projects are more challenging than others. Versal recently completed one such project for CHAMPS, a nonprofit global health enterprise that counts the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as its principal supporter. Earlier this year, the foundation awarded $75 million to launch the effort.

The idea behind CHAMPS is simple: Find out why too many children in the world are dying. In parts of South Asia and sub-Saharan African, 1 in 10 children never reach the age of 5. By contrast, that number in the United States is less than 6 in 1,000.

No reliable data exists to determine why life ends so early for so many kids. So CHAMPS is setting out to collect that data and put it to good use.

While it’s a powerfully simple idea, creating the CHAMPS identity proved remarkably complex.

The name carries the load of six words and 56 letters — CHAMPS stands for “Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance.” The words could not be randomly separated; “mortality” had to be paired with “prevention” and not “child health.”

And while the word “champs” conjures images of athletic triumph — celebrations, podiums, trophies – the meaning of the organization’s acronym has nothing to do with such imagery.
 
Even the simplest icon of a champion — arms raised in victory — posed a question: Would some cultures around the world interpret this gesture as an expression of surrender?
 
To address these challenges, Versal’s design team explored various points of emphasis. The final product emphasized strength (in the weight of the lettering) while communicating unbound good health (an exuberant child icon).
 
Here now, the CHAMPS identity, which will mark the organization's locations around the world:


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