Hyperakt Objects To Legalese

Rebranding Brooklyn Defenders

For 25 years, Brooklyn Defenders has provided legal defense free of charge to hundreds of thousands of Brooklynites who could not otherwise afford a private lawyer. Public defenders have historically had a bad rap – overworked, underfunded, and stretched thin. Working against this entrenched stereotype was a challenge, made even more daunting by a dated, hard to use logo, a limited brand system, no unified verbal identity, and a website that had little of the information that would be useful to their clients. As their branding partner, Hyperakt unearthed the purpose and personality of the brand, and created an understanding of the lived and learned knowledge that became the foundation of the redesign.

The result is encapsulated by three words: Defend, Advocate, Change. The tagline is supported by a wholesale reworking of the organization’s verbal identity and communication tone. The new voice is stripped of legalese and jargon, and crafted in simple language.

The new Brooklyn Defenders logo is intended to represent their 360 degrees approach – defending clients from all sides. Inspired by a stamp or seal, the logo references the organization’s roots in the courtroom. Hyperakt also simplified the brand name from Brooklyn Defender Services to Brooklyn Defenders, in order to bring focus to the people who carry out the work and draw away from the institutional tone.

The new type choices – Noe, a serif by Schick Toikka supported by Pilat, a sans serif from General Type Studio – are meant to reflect the brand’s topflight quality and tenacious rigor. Deep greens and off-whites draw on the seriousness, poise and centuries-old tradition of the legal practice. The brighter blues, inspired by the Brooklyn Dodgers, is an homage to the grit and grace of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods.

Supported by the portrait photography of Aundre Larrow and short films by MediaTank, a new website acts as a resource for people they represent and other community members to find the assistance they need.