7 years of branding and design

I don’t know many people who have dedicated 7 years to taking small things, and turning them into big things.

James Harrington met a guy from Uganda, and turned it into his life’s purpose.

The Ugandan Water Project was born from the seed of a small meeting, but it’s hard for us American’s surrounded by waste and excess to understand how to build a business that only runs on 20% of it’s capitol.  It’s hard for us to understand the amount of integrity and dedication and scrutiny that requires.  James had pinched pennies for 7 years before he was wiling to take a professional to Uganda to showcase the real work they were doing – because even the airfare to take me there – would provide clean drinking water to 400 people for 10 years.

But in 2013, 7 years after helping James setup his first website – and guiding the formation of a brand for a non-profit.  I was able to travel to Uganda to help communicate the real work that happens on the ground.

The Video frame was part of the branding package.  The website’s background texture was framed by an old fashioned 35mm film frame.  All of the communications materials were printed on the brown paper bag style paper.  That’s James’ hand, stamping the logo on the paper bag.  All these elements coalesced into a completely candid, joyful, video presentation of the work they were doing in rural Uganda.

Capturing Essence in Video

You’ve seen the ad’s on TV right – help feed the starving children of africa.  Well, we now understand those ad’s to be placing the children in the victim’s role – and it’s bad for them – and bad for us.  A book that James Makes you read before you to understand the full ethics of the situation is “When Helping Hurts” by Steve Corbett

The essence of what the Ugandan Water Project is trying to create, is healthy communities.  Showing their joy around chasing a soccer ball – that we brought to delight them – is more the essense of their community than their sorrow.  Sharing their joy and successes are more important than sharing their sorrows.

Sometimes they go without water, sometimes they go without food – but their spirits are only stronger for it.

Let’s celebrate success rather than victim stance and pity party.

This 3min video allowed James to stand before a croud of 100, or 300 and communicate his organizations goals, values and essence!

Production Details

Neil solo in the field with responsibility for all audio and visual recording.  2-4 hour van rides to remote villages where we were able to stop for less than an hour.  So each location only received minimal coverage so that we could reach as many locations as possible.  I was shooting a Canon 5D on custom rig at the time.

Neil designed our first website and would always lovingly add his expert eye to our mailing and publications.  He always took the time to help me learn what he was seeing, or how it would help communications rather than just show me he could do it better.  When I took the leap to full time involvement and supporting my family totally from this endeavor, Neil was there to do strategic thinking, branding and opportunity identification.  He partnered with me in reaching donors as effectively as consumers, and helped me communicate those emotional cues that are the motivation for donating or purchasing.  Neil was also able to utilize common print formats to allow us to give away print pieces and mail effective communications that had a cohesive style and message on our minuscule budget.

In 2010 I hired a small team of student filmmakers to come to Uganda and work with me on getting effective video pieces together.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have a vision that connected with me or our donors and so I was very hesitant to spend on getting Neil to Uganda for the same purpose:  how could he do better than a team with college degrees?  But he did – the leader piece above was the first successful 3min video that shows what we do, and the people of Uganda in their natural state without overt or manipulative ‘tone’.  These video pieces helped introduce me to fundraising audiences as I was invited to speak in schools and churches across the country.

James Harrington

Founder & Director, Ugandan Water Project