Over our 17+ years at FUEL, we’ve had the pleasure of working with a number of clients. We’ve built our firm around the notion that design can be highly effective in driving both a company’s interests and appeal.
Design can also be a force for good.
“I take my cues from a great-great-great-great aunt of mine that inspires me, every day, to take on seemingly larger-than-life problems … human problems,” said FUEL co-founder John Moes.
Opportunities present themselves regularly, most with a limited outreach and mission.
Then along came Dan Hatfield.We were introduced to him by another client and longtime friend of the FUEL team. Dan’s story was compelling. And the FUEL team felt like we absolutely had to be a part of it.
“The entire existence of Dan’s organization centered around curbing drug use, alcoholism and suicide often found in significant numbers within the First Nations people in Canada,” said Moes. “By communicating with the people on their own terms, Nations One delivers a unifying message that was helping to build community within their own village while connecting them with other communities throughout the region.”
After months of research, cultural immersion and designing the identity, the adventure became real. In late August, FUEL designers John Allen and Rachael Bair, along with pilot Erik Mondt, drone pilot Jim Perkins and Hatfield hopped into a pair of airplanes and headed North.
The team traveled 1,600 miles to the remote corners of Northern Manitoba and Ontario, visiting five First Nations communities. The purpose? To gather photography and video assets to be used in Nations One promotional materials and web presence, and get a few additional broadcast tower projects rolling.
“The First Nations people are very familiar with religious organizations,” said Allen. “Historically, missionaries attempted to strip them of their culture by enforcing their own traditions and way of life. Nations One had a very different approach. The organization empowers natives to embrace their rich history. Their efforts are focused on affecting a positive change in the desires of the heart through broadcasting the hope of the Gospel throughout these remote communities.”
One of the villages the team visited was Garden Hill, built on the shores of Island Lake. In the summer, a limited number of underdeveloped roads are open, but because they are not interconnected, most travel occurs by boat or plane. In the winter, trucks and snow machines can travel across the ice, and for the daring, people can also travel on foot.
The moment you arrive at any of these places, you realize how remote you are. You imagine the landscape in the darkness of winter, and it’s easy to think how the isolation closes in on you. The feeling of disconnect is real and it leads people down the darkest of roads.
“These communities have experienced incredible hardship,” continued Allen. “They’ve endured suicide of loved ones, alcoholism, abuse, and depression to name a few. Because of the work of Nations One, we had the privilege of capturing the fruit of these efforts. People have found freedom from their depression, broken the addiction to drugs, kids are thriving, and we truly saw a loving and generous community cultivated by this organization’s efforts. I can honestly say our job was truly a pleasure. When design is used for good… that’s a combination we get excited about!”
As the project came to completion, it was clear it served as a great example for how our four-step design process – Research, Strategy, Identity, Implementation – can guide the way.
Over the coming months, we’ll take a deeper dive into each step as there are many great lessons for how to approach a project of this magnitude – and the results you get when it’s done the right way.
“Helping a group like Nations One was a way for us to put our abilities and experience to work for a higher purpose than we were accustomed to,” said Moes. “I’m not necessarily talking in a religious sense, but a human sense.”
And in the meantime, shine a little light on a part of the world that’s rarely seen by the masses.
We invite you to take a look: nationsone.org
Bill Bollman is FUEL’s Creative Director. Before co-founding FUEL in 2001, he worked for Horizon Communications, JW Morton and Basler Design Group. Bill studied Illustration at Hawkeye Tech in Waterloo, Iowa. An expert in the “old ways” of hands-on print production, these skills influence his work in the digital world to this day. His work throughout his career has been featured in international publications including Graphis, How International Design, Communication Arts, and The One Book as well as numerous design annuals and reference books.