National Domestic Workers Alliance Redefining the future of work
The National Domestic Workers Alliance is all about care. Its mission is to raise standards for domestic workers. Its work is centered on building power in order to build a society based on care.
In addition to advocating for those who care for our loved ones, NDWA provides benefits services, tackles representation of domestic workers in popular culture, and uplifts women of color as leaders. A recent accomplishment is President Biden’s April 2023 announcement of more than fifty Executive Actions investing in the infrastructure of our care economy.
What makes NDWA such a powerful force is that it is an alliance of multiple entities working toward a common goal. Since its founding, churning out new businesses, brands, and campaigns has been core to NDWA’s success but the process had become cumbersome. They needed a unified visual identity to build visibility and make growth easier.
If we can bring the most vulnerable people to a place of dignity, and give a voice to the invisible, we will change the heart of society and redefine the future of work.
Domestic work makes all other work possible. Every person in this country, at some point in their lives, will need to give or receive care. The question was how do we represent this fundamental, irrefutable, and irrevocable human interconnectedness?
Quilts have a long and meaningful role in the preservation of women’s cultural heritage–women of color in particular. The practice of quilting brings community together. If the NDWA brand could work like a quilt, it would provide all the function that the organization required from a visual identity system.
The NDWA patchwork is built from icons that are also letters. The icons form unique brand patterns and also wordmarks for the NDWA businesses, brands, and campaigns.
Champions worked with Kara Gordon at Commercial Type to expand the glyph set within Chiswick Grotesque, then the Commercial Type team developed new programming to make the glyphs easy to manage day-to-day and also understandable by screen readers.
Simply put, everything had to work for everyone. NDWA is a community of care workers led by care workers who put the needs of women of color at the center of their work.
NDWA lives in the fast-paced world of organizing and advocacy. The design system had to be straightforward and easy to implement by designers and organizers alike. Everyone works from the same tool kit of orange, black, and a combination of three additional colors from the NDWA unified color palette as well as a few free Google fonts (Fjalla, Alfa Slab, and Rubik). Plus quilt frames.
When assembling the four sides of a quilt frame, orange is always at the top. The entity logo and the NDWA logo are in the rightmost panel. And the icon patterns are always black on a full color background, cropped symmetrically, and used in varying scales. Type, photo, and/or an illustration go in the middle.
It can be said that every brand is a living brand, but not every brand is visibly growing each day. A successful NDWA brand would have to grow quickly and indefinitely while maintaining meaningful cohesion for scale and also meaningful differentiation for representation.
The Chiswick glyph set was built out beyond immediate needs, as was the NDWA color palette. Any new business, brand, or initiative leader could select the icon and color mix that best tells their story, then develop their specific brand pattern, photo, and illustration style accordingly.
Having just a few rules and holding them closely gets design out of the way of progress.