A new kind of movement that trains and equips public defenders to coalesce their individual experiences into a nationwide push for a more compassionate justice system.

Brand Strategy, Visual Identity, Organizational Website, Campaign Website, Experience Design

The challenge

Public Defenders are witnesses to daily discriminations, inside and outside of court. Whether fighting tooth and nail for the rights of their clients or navigating the complex machinations of our criminal justice system, public defenders are experts with a deep well of untapped knowledge and appetite for reform.

Across the country, courageous and reform-minded defenders were speaking out about what they were seeing. Alone, their actions had limited impact. But what if they could be brought together, with their efforts combined and multiplied in order to build a shared vision, strategy, and action plan for deep, systemic change?

The start of something new

Created and led by public defenders, Zealous focuses on training, advocacy, and movement-building.

Zealous started as a 2-day transformative experience that built belief, community, and momentum. Zealous catalyzed a collective of like-minded advocates with a powerful shared vision to end mass incarceration in the United States. Each public defender went back to their home office inspired to push change from within, supported by a national community, and energized to ask bigger and better questions.

An organization is born

Today, Zealous has burgeoned into an independent organization, committed to recruiting defenders from across the country and training them to spread powerful stories that speak truth and spark change, maximize policy impact, and reform the legal system from the ground up.

A power play

Branding Zealous was all about amplifying the voices of public defenders and the clients they represent both inside and outside of court. The cascading letter forms in the wordmark, set in Culver, a custom font created by Frere-Jones Type, depict this amplification literally. The supporting elements build on the brand’s momentum and power through conceptual iconography, bold statements, and a warm color palette.

At the kickoff event in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, the brand helped channel the energy, excitement, and power embodied by the incredible participants and star-studded line-up of speakers and facilitators.

Intention and innovation

Conversations, and not just around big topics like criminal justice reform, can be big and messy. They ebb and flow, grow loud, then silent, and are generally hard to steer. With over 52 public defenders and countless other experts in the room, we needed to define what we wanted every individual to walk away with.

The two days were anchored in experiential learning, a series of carefully designed activities that allowed participants to learn by doing. Through story slams, Twitter workshops, role-playing activities, and fishbowl-style listening sessions, attendees were asked to examine old challenges in new ways and approach new challenges through time-tested frameworks. Participants gained media skills, coalition building, power mapping, campaign strategy, narrative change, and the art of storytelling, and learned from a range of experts.

Graphic Recordings by Claudia Lopez of On the Right Mind

Hyperakt took an idea, an important yet complicated concept in which we believed deeply, and they made it concrete. Beautiful and powerful. They gave it shape and character. And in doing so, they enabled us to have immediate and growing impact.
Scott Hechinger
Director & Founder, Zealous

Behind the Scenes

Project Credits

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