Regular readers of Good Design may remember way back in February of last year I blogged about the hugely inspirational brand Common. Common is the social initiative of Alex Bogusky, Rob Schuham and John Bielenberg, a brand that acts as a platform for social entrepreneurs to co-create, innovate and launch their start-ups. Back then I was very excited by the possibilities and opportunities this opened up for entrepreneurs to use social innovation to help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. Now it seems like the brand is really starting to bear fruit and just as I had hoped it is very exciting!
Sir Richard’s Condom Company is a collaboration between TDA_Boulder and Common. They are a condom company with a difference and a very admirable mission they call ‘Buy One, Give One’; this means that ‘for every condom you purchase, one is donated to a developing country.’ This mission has the potential to make a huge impact in developing countries where currently, shockingly, only 10% of free condoms are reaching the people that really need them. Amazingly, they are also taking this concept one step further by actually altering the branding and packaging according to the country they are distributing in. Acceptance apparently is a major cultural issue as some countries find the very idea of condoms socially embarrassing. An excellent example of how they have managed to do this already is demonstrated with the work that they have done in Haiti. Here they consulted with local creatives to create the brand name in Haitian Creole ‘Kore’, which in their local dialect is a term of endearment to let you know that your friend ‘has your back’. As of the 13th of February 2012 the Sir Richards community announced their first donation of 500,000 KORE condoms – fantastic! You can hear about this in more detail in the video at the top of the post.
When it comes to the over all brand Sir Richards are really on point. They realize and embrace the fact that first and foremost they are a condom company and therefore their brand should celebrate and have fun with the idea of safe sex. TDA_Boulder created a brand that reflected this ethos with stylish packaging that is a welcome alternative to the more pharmaceutical offerings currently on the market. The aim was to create a brand that people would not feel embarrassed buying and could be seen on the shelves of American Apparel as well as Boots. They were also conscious that up until now condoms have very much been marketed to the macho male market and so they have made sure that women and also gay men are included in their message and over all brand approach. For the marketing and advertising TDA created some thought provoking and humorous posters and packaging reminding people how much school fees per year would cost should they not choose to wear a condom! They also created a mobile application called Significant Other and with the tagline ‘if this was any better, we’d be out of buisness’ (I’ll leave you to find out what it does!). The name Sir Richards itself refers to chivalry, protection and knighthood but it is also cleverly a play on words (again I shall leave that up to you!).
Overall I think Sir Richards and Common have got this spot on. Although they may have a way to go in terms of environmental credentials (due to pending FSC certifications) the intent is there and I’m sure once fair-trade letex is more widely available they will be able to tick that box too. But what they have managed to create is a fun, stylish brand that celebrates its core purpose and really excels by having a truly aspirational and effective social mission built in from it’s inception.