HOP SKIP JUMP: Bringing Kids Together with the Universal Language of Play
The assignment called to design a brand identity for an event for a nonprofit, NGO, or charity organization. This was our opportunity to use design to make the world a better place. We selected a Nonprofit organization that aligns with the causes you care about. The work should assist this organization to more effectively engage with its principal audiences and speak meaningfully to their deeper needs, goals, and motivations.
From 2015 to 2019, I volunteered with an organization called The Refugee Youth Project, where I tutored refugee children ages 5–11 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Refugee Youth Project (RYP) is a community outreach organization operating out of both the International Rescue Committee Baltimore Office and Baltimore City Community College.
Because of my time at RYP, I have primary knowledge of the experiences refugee children often face in American communities. With that knowledge in mind, I wanted to create an event specifically for them. The majority of the programs RYP puts on for the kids are geared towards learning and enhancing their educational career which is important, but there is a key part of childhood that they are not addressing: fun.
The main goal of my solution is to provide refugee children a safe, inclusive, and stress-free environment to play and make connections with other kids.
There are many current outreach efforts for refugee children geared toward learning and neglect the importance of kids having fun and relaxing. Refugees in America are often isolated from their native peers due to several factors, including the language barrier, PTSD, cultural differences, etc. Hop Skip Jump addresses this by giving kids an opportunity to bond in the universal language of play.
When I am starting a large-scale project like this, I write a “vibe statement” that accompanies my idea. A vibe statement is a quick sentence that describes what I want my brand to feel like or communicate at first glance. My vibe statement for this project was: "Not your school's field day."
With my preliminary research done and the vibe statement written, I set up some goals for my brand image and message. 1) It is fun 2) It is universally accessible and appealing 3) It fosters connections across cultures 4) It is something any kid would want to be a part of
I ended up focusing on imagery that had a saturated primary color palette and bold basic shapes to have universal appeal, and appear youthful without pandering. In examining the color palettes of brands that were similar, such as Lego and Kipos, I took cues from them to put together the brand’s bright primary colors.
It was important that the name referenced play and interpersonal connection. I created a few word association lists with the words fun, play, and friends as the starting points. From this preliminary work, I expanded the list to include every potential name that came to mind and brought it to my peers for their reactions. They resonated with the name Pep Pop Pow because of its rhythm and how simple the words were. When asked why, one of my peers said, “The percussive nature of the wording makes it fun to say.”
At that point, I wondered, how do I capture the rhythmic fun of Pep Pop Pow and still achieve my goals of referencing play and connection? In researching action words that reference the act of play, I landed on the name Hop Skip Jump. It still had the rhythmic punch of Pep Pop Pow but felt more appropriate for the event. Hop, skip, and jump are all verbs that describe playing. Hop, skip, and jump in conjunction also allude to the idiom “a hop, a skip and jump away” which means relatively close, referencing the theme of closeness and connection.
This project was a labor of love. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with a cause that I care for so deeply after the upheaval of the last few years. The brief gave me the room to expand my perspective on what I can do as a graphic designer. I hope to bring this new perspective into my work as I approach the end of my university career and enter into professional life.