Inequality matters: a landmark study

Institute for Fiscal Studies
Branding, Digital, Film and animation

Inequalities are at the forefront of today’s public and policy debates worldwide. To investigate this key issue, the Institute for Fiscal Studies launched an ambitious five-year study and approached us to develop a project identity and a launch campaign that would capture the imagination of the public.

Inequalities have been linked to some of the most important political events, including the rise of populism across the developed world and the vote for Brexit, and have sparked worldwide protest movements. There could hardly be a more pressing time to understand how inequalities arise, which ones matter, why they matter, and how they should be addressed.

And who better to lead on this study but one of the UK’s most respected think tanks, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). IFS has been at the forefront of research into economics and policy for over 50 years. 

It quickly became clear that the key to this issue was representing those who were ‘losing out’ – those most impacted by the various inequalities present in today’s society. We adopted the ‘less than or equal to’ mathematical symbol as a core motif for this project with this in mind.

This symbol serves as a strong visual framework that, when paired with a bold typographic language and colour palette, allowed us to create a unified yet diverse campaign across multiple platforms.

Creating an impactful but inclusive identity that would resonate with a range of different audiences was a critical part of our brief. A major stream of the study’s activity is focused on enhancing public understanding of the challenges caused by inequalities and how they should be tackled; engaging a wider audience beyond the ‘policy bubble’ was key.

Two icons: (left) a person holding a placard with the text "Why?" and (right) a question mark with the British Isles as the dot.
Four images (clockwise from top left): a person with the text "Gender inequality", a young person with the text "Human capital Education", a stack of coins with the text "Financial crisis" and a tree diagram with three icons.

The identity reflects the scope and ambition of inequality and set the tone for the entire project: forward-looking, modern and impactful. Given the five year duration of the study, it was also important that the system was flexible enough to incorporate a wide range of outputs and activities, both on- and offline.

A collage of pages from the brand identity guidelines.

Next, we got to work wireframing, designing and building a dedicated microsite to house the project. One that could be built on and evolve over time, just as the study does. The website introduces the background to the work and draws on commentary from leading minds across the social sciences, assembling evidence on the causes and consequences of different forms of inequalities, and the ways that they can best be reduced or mitigated.

Three pages from the microsite as viewed on tablet and mobile devices.

To promote the launch of the project, we created a launch film featuring the chair of the study, Nobel Laureate Professor Sir Angus Deaton. Working alongside the IFS team, we scripted, shot and produced a compelling film that outlines the ambitions of the project.

With inequality rising up the political and social agendas we now expect this landmark project to take on an even greater urgency. Watch this space to see how communications for the study develop and how they impact the IFS’s wider communications strategy and visual identity.

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