Posters and logos

Images are an important part of the Reflect process, including  drawing by participants, picture books, posters, logos and symbols.

Why? Children almost invariably love to draw - but through years of schooling this activity is progressively devalued and marginalised until the only space they get to draw is with scribbles and doodles in the margins - something that becomes almost a subversive act. However, visual communication can be immensely powerful - transcending language, with an immediate and long-lasting impact. Most issues and stories, indeed almost any information or idea, can be captured in a drawing or series of drawings.

Therefore, even in situations where literacy is central to a Reflect process, we should promote the value and status of drawing as a parallel form of communication. We should celebrate the joy of drawing and encourage Reflect participants to develop and cultivate these skills for wider communication work.

When?  Any time.

How? There are many different ways of structuring and using visual communication. Here are a few examples of types and uses, but facilitators can be led by the skills and creativity in the group, which will often be stimulated or revealed by the pictures participants draw to illustrate or label different visualisations.

Logos and identity:  Almost every organisation now seeks to harness the power of branding  to construct an identity using some form of visual image or logo.  In fact, part of the strength and speed of the spread of the Reflect approach can be attributed to its powerful logo.  Logos can be developed or appropriated to express or explore identity and belonging. 

In the Basque Country, a Reflect group consciously used the power of the logo to reassert cultural identity. Using an existing symbol of Basque identity, participants branded a wide range of materials such as bags and badges.  The objects were used by people who strongly identified themselves as Basque.  This helped fellow Basque speakers to easily identify each other and speak to each other in the minority Basque language, rather than the usual Spanish. 

Posters:  There are many ways in which posters can be used: to announce or publicise events; to communicate core messages; to educate and inform; or to sell things. Most posters involve a mixture of pictures and text but they always contain a strong visual component. It is unsurprising then to find that some Reflect circles have decided to produce posters of their own - to take advantage of this powerful medium and spread their messages more widely.

In Cuzco, Peru, Reflect participants produced posters on the issue of domestic violence.  After discussion of the issue, they divided into small groups to each produce a poster : with photographs or drawings depicting the issues and slogans in both Quechua and Spanish calling for an end to the practice.  These were then combined to make a glossy printed poster with the slogan "Don't let other women suffer how I have suffered" and calling for "Wasinchismanta qallarisun ... peace in the home".

In Burundi, reconciliation posters and calendars have been produced with peace messages for display in schools, homes and offices. In the first year the posters were designed by NGO staff, but it became clear that people often had difficulty interpreting the messages so now they are designed through close consultation with Reflect circles.  The posters link images to slogans derived from local proverbs, such as "shared roots - common destiny" or "without peace nothing will grow". They are published in three languages - the local mother tongue Kirundi, French and English.

Picture Books: Booklets using pictures and diagrams to get key messages across can be a very important medium for disseminating information. For example, in Balangir, India, booklets have been produced about the rights of migrant workers - with everything communicated in pictures. In Sri Lanka, cards showing simple drawings of insects: colour-coding those who benefit farmers and those which are pests, have been developed and used to great effect. No amount of words could substitute for pictures in this context! In Uganda, participants have produced their own children's books with strong visual images and words in their mother tongue, reproducing these on silk-screen printers.

Cultural designs and patterns: Cultural identity is often richly expressed through the diverse patterns and designs used in fabrics and cultural artefacts. Enabling participants to copy, adapt and transpose these patterns into new materials can help to reclaim identity or assert it in new ways through new media.

If you have an interesting or innovative experience of working with this tool please add your comments here.