EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR
ELMWOOD DESIGN, NEW YORK NY
Meg Beckum helps businesses uncover and cultivate authentic brand narratives and expressions through imagination, craft and storytelling. With a MFA in Design from SCAD and BA in Journalism from University of Georgia, Meg has worked in publishing and branding for 20 years. She has developed identities, campaigns, and experiences for some of the world’s most recognized brands including Heineken, Kimberly-Clark, GSK, Danone, American Express, Verizon and Bank of America. While brand building is her focus, Meg is most proud of her work with organizations empowering women and children — including The Girl Scouts, Planned Parenthood and Teach for America. Featured in FastCo, The Drum, Digiday, and Creative Boom and a recent AIGANY board member, Meg has been a GDUSA Person to Watch.
How did you become involved in socially responsible communications and why do you believe design can be an effective tool for this goal?
I started my career in journalism, believing I could do something to better the world. As I transitioned into design and brand development, I embraced opportunities to do work that would empower women and children. I’ve partnered with organizations including the Girl Scouts and Teach for America and took a year-long sabbatical from agency life to support Planned Parenthood. I believe that design is an incredibly powerful tool for democratizing access to healthcare and education — the things that truly matter in a society.
Most recently, our team at Elmwood worked with Summit Health Cares, a nonprofit helping underserved communities in New Jersey and Greater New York City access medical services. The brief was to create a welcoming beacon, telegraphing that Summit Health Cares is a safe, dependable and trustworthy source for health care and education. Our design solution, an open heart embracing its neighbors, says “You are welcome here. We care about you and your family’s health.” Small design actions can signal access and equity — invite people in.
Given the confluence of events and challenges our society now faces, does 2021 present any special opportunities, urgencies, obstacles to designing for good?
One of the challenges that designers face today is trust. There is so much misinformation in the world — often times designed or branded to deceive. There’s a need for designers to do their due diligence — to ensure that what they are putting out in the public is accurate and honest. It’s our responsibility to be fact-checkers, whistleblowers, and truth seekers.