May 23, 2023

Designing for ESG

Determining the visual identity for your ESG strategy and progress takes careful planning and thought. It can’t be an afterthought, nor can it be a simple addition of more greens and blues in your color palette.

ESG is a broad category that can be brought to life in many ways – through a firm’s investment strategy and portfolio, their work in the community, public advocacy, or even internal policies. Deciding how best to share that is a careful process that starts with what your firm believes, how that manifests in your actions and then determining what parts of that strategy you want to demonstrate to clients and prospects.

One of our favorite design challenges is helping a company visualize their ESG strategy. From annual ESG reports to websites we’ve helped countless firms tell their ESG story. Here are a few trends we are seeing in ESG design and how you could adapt them for your firm.

People at the Forefront. Toss those data-heavy slides away, effective ESG designs have a friendlier look than traditional corporate topics. A simple way to achieve this look is by using imagery that includes people. Including pictures of people engaged in ESG activities (beach clean-up, community service work etc…) is popular right now. If you prefer not to showcase your team or specific people, use imagery that denotes a person’s involvement.

Focus on Nature. For imagery, it’s hard to go wrong with the natural beauty of our planet. While we are seeing a lot of forest, tree, mountain, and water imagery, that may not be right for your firm’s brand identity. Be creative, adapt imagery to reflect your brand’s perspective. Filters over images and different angles, or perspectives (we love a good close-up shot) are great places to start.  

Any Color Goes. While the environment is just one component of an ESG story, it is a great place to start in terms of color palettes. Fresh, natural colors like green and blues are popular, but not the only options. We are starting to see more creativity when it comes to shades of white, taupe, and yellow.

But that is just part of the ESG color story.

For firms who’s ESG strategy focuses more on people, social programs and community service, a more vibrant color palette can work well. It is exciting to see firms moving towards colors that capture the vibrancy and energy of their ESG efforts. Not only is it appropriate for the subject, but it can also help your firm’s content stand out from competitors.

Demonstrate Your Progress. Integrity and transparency are essential when reporting your ESG efforts. Including images of current certifications, logos of organizations you are working with, pictures of your activities or awards you’ve won demonstrates your commitment to ESG. We’re starting to see firms do this more often and it’s making a positive impact. Regardless of how you are communicating, ensure that these images are updated appropriately to reflect your ongoing efforts.

Keep it Simple. Regardless of the type of ESG story your firm is telling, an important and popular design choice is keeping things simple. Clean, uncluttered design with lots of white space so your content can breathe is proving very effective in designing around ESG topics. Icons and other simple visuals are popular provided they do not detract from the main message or concept a firm is trying to communicate. Likewise, infographics or simple interactivity for digital content, makes your message easier to understand and more approachable. For an industry that thrives on tables of numbers, ESG is a great opportunity to simplify design and the volume of content being presented.

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