Designing for CISV

By Camila Barrera Daza, the designer of Athena.

What makes something a "CISV thing"? Well, if it is an activity, you know it's a CISV activity because it is planned and executed with the goal of achieving new attitudes, skills and knowledge in one of the CISV content areas. Or maybe you can say that something is CISV because it educates and inspire people to act for a more just and a more peaceful world. And we might even say we know we are CISVers because we have taken part in such activities and programs, we have learned about peace education through them, and we are inspired —even eager— to make a change for the better in this world. These are things the organization has been working on making clear, more consistent and accesible for the last decade or so.

But together to the content and ideology consistency and strength, CISV has undergone the difficult task of creating a strong, consistent visual profile. Many still talk of the big change that took place a decade ago when, rather bravely I would say, the organization adopted a new logo. However, that change was more than just adopting a new logo —and for sure more than removing a hat on the lady at the top of it. With it we started to think about what it is we are communicating, and how to do it with a united voice. We have been challenged to think about consistency in colors, in fonts, in the way we use our logo, and how a "CISV thing" looks like. And in my case this has become my strongest bond with the organization, my role in it.

I joined CISV in Colombia in 1998 and attended my first CISV program then. I was 12. At 13 I designed my first CISV t-shirt and since then I have lost count of how many more. As I grew older and more interested in design and illustration, the challenge of making more CISV stuff gave me a thrill. Brochures, invitations, posters, logos, profiles for programs and even AIM where some of the things I did before the big branding change in CISV. I liked to do it but noticed that every time I did something new it felt like starting from scratch. There was no consistency, and ultimately no strength in the bunch as whole. So I was really happy when I learned that the organization was taking a step forward into making it easier to design for CISV with a strong voice, in unison.

Then Looking Good came out, and with it more and more great looking CISV stuff. I have moved to Norway since then (I'm one of those who married their CISV camp boyfriend), and had the great opportunity to design CISV Norway's Peace Education Book Series, a few of their merchandise collections, blogs and more. I have really enjoyed seeing how all over the world more and more great things show up, making our organization more visible and easier to recognize.

Yes, I must admit I am one of those that twitches whenever I see the wrong font or colors used in a CISV document, or even worse promotional material. But I have learned to step away from my frustration by understanding this is a huge organization running on volunteer work. I know that all over the world there are members who, like me, just want to make the next coolest t-shirt or brochure for this organization that we like so much. I hope that they all get the tools, guidance, and support to continue bringing CISV forward to a wider audience.

My message to you, CISVer out there, designing for CISV, is this: We might speak tons of different languages in this organization, but we can bring forward the CISV message to the world by using one strong, consistent and clear voice. Show your unique design style in the CISV colors, typefaces and keep our logo strong and visible.