ThisAbility Branding

  • Sulaiman R. Khan [he/him/his/Disabled]
In today’s media-savvy interconnected society, branding plays a significant role in any organisation, and ours is no different. Perhaps, it plays a more vital role in an organisation like our organisation in what we wish to do, to be. Here are the thoughts of Sulaiman – our Founder and Chief Purpose Officer – about our branding and the theory behind it:
We are now surrounded by branding in everyday life, whether you like it or not. From a company advertising its brand to sell a product or you using your personal brand to show your best self at an interview, branding has a significant part in our lives. Branding can be positive or negative. For example, the rise of Daesh (though I wholeheartedly condemn their actions and completely reject their ideology), whether you agree or not, has seen their excellent use of branding. It is up to us to create positive branding that does better as brands.
This responsibility is why I wanted the branding of ThisAbility to do better (read more about us here) through our brand and our ethos of positivity, creativity, sustainability, diversity, collaboration, playfulness and humour.
As a graduate of BA (Honours) Advertising & Brand Communication (2012) from the University for the Creative Arts (Farnham, Surrey, UK), I understand the crucial role of branding and lucidly connecting with an audience.
So, I wanted our branding to be vastly different from what I’d seen before, and I decided to start with the logo. For ThisAbility, the logo is an essential part of our brand. My inspiration for the logo was one of the most fantastic books I have ever read (that I finished in October 2016), HOMEGOING’ by Yaa Gyasi. It is an epically intimate debut novel about the slave trade from the Ghanaian perspective that tells the story of two half-sisters, one whose descendants remain in Ghana and the other whose descendants became slaves in America spanning over 300-years in an enthralling way that I’ve never read before. It has been absorbing into my mind ever since. As the central part of the logo, I chose to use a Ghanaian symbol because I wanted to highlight that creativity isn’t just a Western notion and diversity in the creative industries (including from Africa) is a good thing, as well as a symbol of my ambition to build up ThisAbility to be a global network, particularly to Africa. I wanted to bring out the ‘inclusive and global’ theme of ThisAbility; essentially that we’re ‘a tribe of creative disabled talent.’ I wanted our organisation to be more like a club or family, which I wished to portray through the logo. I started by extensively researching African symbols, and I chose this:
It is an Adinkra* Symbol that means BOA ME NE ME MMOA WO or ‘help me and let me help you’.  It’s a symbol of cooperation and interdependence, which I thought especially fitting considering our creative disabled talent can assist the creative industries (and society), but we just need a bit of support to fly.
*Adinkra are visual symbols, originally created by the Ashanti (GHANA), that represent concepts or aphorisms…” “… The symbols have a decorative function but also represent objects that encapsulate evocative messages that convey traditional wisdom, aspects of life or the environment. There are many different symbols with distinct meanings, often linked with proverbs. In the words of Kwame Anthony Appiah, they were one of the means in a pre-literate society for ‘supporting the transmission of a complex and nuanced body of practice and belief’…
“I then looked at types and colours, and I decided to keep the logo very simple. I first had lots of different logo versions, but they were all too complicated, so I decided to start from scratch. It was just important for me that I used the Adinkra symbol.
Once I had those two elements, I focused on the type and font for the logo.  I love its simple yet self-assured feel and how well it fits with the logo.
It was also a deliberate decision to keep the colour scheme of the logo entirely black and white because I wanted to keep it understated and I prefer the simplicity. I hope to build upon the logo through our branding and make our brand into a unique and disruptive force for good. Whether this is through the people and organisations we engage, how we behave and act in the world, the team that we employ and how we think throughout our organisation or the branded products we make for our network of creative talent.
Again, ThisAbility aims to do better through our brand and our ethos of positivity, creativity, sustainability, inclusivity, collaboration, empathy, playfulness, and humour. Though we’re taking it one step at a time and we will be working hard to ensure this becomes a sustainable reality.

Here it is, the ThisAbility final logo:
I love the logo, as I created it myself and there’s so much meaning behind it all to me. I might amend this logo in the future, but for now, it’s a keeper. I love the analogue look, the imperfections, the tribe-like feel, and the simplicity.
And I decided to just use the Adinkra symbol as the social profile photos, as there’s not much space and I wish ThisAbility to be known by its symbol:
Then, I worked the branding for use everywhere and used the logo in white within it to stand out. Here it is:
Watch this space.
A big thank you to the wonderful Anomaly Design Team too for assisting create such awesome branding and logo for ThisAbility.
From here, it’s time to build upon ThisAbility branding with logo and start making the world a better place for all through the creative industries. There will be more exciting updates soon.
As Rumi best wrote: ‘You have escaped the cage. Your wings are stretched out. Now fly.’

So, join #ThisAbility and connect with us to be a part of our adventure!”