Since Soapbox started in 2008, we’ve believed that evidence-based policy ideas, communicated widely, are a route to social progress. It’s important to us to drive forward that agenda, strengthen think tanks everywhere and play a positive role in that debate. A big part of that has been through our relationship with On Think Tanks (OTT).
OTT is a platform of ideas and programmes to support think tanks across the world. The only initiative of its kind, it is driven by the conviction that better-informed societies have a better chance of delivering results for their most vulnerable.
OTT first began as a blog in 2010. But after a few years, the platform had taken on a life of its own. It had outgrown the simple framework of its old site. And whilst OTT had a clear vision, they lacked a cohesive visual identity.
Sometimes the best ideas are born out of constraints. Through our conversations with the On Think Tanks team we knew that finding quality imagery that was relevant to the sector was no easy feat. So we decided to make a virtue of it. The resulting identity is deliberately typographically-driven and hinges around two typefaces – Circe and Leitura – and a modular system of blocky geometric shapes.
Community is baked into OTT’s DNA. Creating a new site that could function as a home for the wider network was a key part of our brief. After developing a set of core user goals, we designed and developed a site architecture that is rooted in the spirit of collaboration and encourages sharing and engagement. A dynamic homepage serves as a gateway into a range of content types and showcases ideas from across the network, establishing On Think Tanks as the go-to place for think-tankers all over the world.
The launch of the new site was just the beginning of our partnership with On Think Tanks. Over the years, we have worked with OTT to build and grow their brand including working on a Think Tank Communications Health Check and teaching at the On Think Tanks School . Most recently, that included the development of the Open Think Tank Directory; an indispensable repository for and about think tanks.
Integrating with the AirTable API, the Open Think Tank Directory is a constantly-evolving resource that always remains up-to-date with the latest statistics. Not only does the directory benefit the think tank community, but it also serves a public good, contributing to the transparency efforts of the sector as a whole.
The OTT conference and Annual Review are highlights of our year and in recent years we have created a look and feel to unify these products around a particular theme.
Our relationship with OTT has been a key factor in helping Soapbox gain an unrivalled understanding of the communications needs of policy and research organisations. It has opened up relationships that have allowed us to drive innovation in the sector. And it has helped us work with policy organisations across six continents. We’re excited to see where the journey takes us next.