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Mikva Challenge

Mikva Challenge is a breath of fresh air in the room of civic engagement in the United States. Founded by Abner Mikva in Chicago more than two decades ago, the organization asks young people what they want for the future, providing resources and frameworks for sharing their views.

07 Nov 2020

  • Brand identity
  • Brand collateral
  • Brand standards guides
  • Content strategy
  • WordPress development
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The Mikva Challenge has reached thousands of young people through schools and educators with its innovative platform. It has not only transformed young people's interaction with a living democracy; it has also transformed adult perspectives about youth agency and capacity.

When Mikva engaged Manoverboard, it was on a growth trajectory, with partnerships throughout the country and new satellite offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. It wanted to update Mikva's brand to better connect with its core audiences.

A black and white photo of a group of people walking down a street. A woman holds a sign that says
A black and white photo of three people talking by a shore.
A black and white photo of a large group of people standing in an urban setting.
A black and white photo of a younger man talking to two people.
A black and white photo of a woman smiling at someone else.
A screenshot from the Mikva Challenge home page. There is a bright red background with the Mikva Challenge logo in white lettering in the top left corner. In the top right corner there are three small lines arranged in rows. In very large lettering in the middle and towards the left, the words

During our brand discovery and visual research, we came across the typeface Cooper Black, which appeared in various Mikva campaign materials over the years.

Logo & Brand

Designed in 1922 by typographer Oswald Bruce Cooper, the typeface’s black weight was innovative for its time, setting a new trend in advertising typography. To us, it embodied the grassroots, boots-on-the-ground attitude required for meaningful social change.

Fittingly, Cooper designed the typeface while working in Chicago, the home of Mikva Challenge. We settled upon Cooper Black Italic for the organization’s full name, Mikva Challenge.

A screenshot from the Mikva Challenge home page. The top section has an orange border, an opaque image of teenagers holding hands with a blurb in white lettering over it and a
A screenshot from Mikava Challenge's
A bright red background with the word

A yellow-tinted photo of two people talking to each other with the words
The phrase
A white exclamation point on a red rectangle on a purple rectangle.
3 rectangular cards for Mikva Challenge's brand standards. The first is white, second is yellow, third is black. Each has a different phrase:
Mikva Challenge's brand standards. Colour palettes for primary, secondary, and tertiary palettes are seen, alongside different fonts to be used.

Our team was unanimous about the decision to use a wordmark for Mikva's visual identity. The choice fits the organization's action-oriented character and focus on conversation and immediacy.

Set in Cooper Black italic, Mikva's name stands apart, lending itself well to campaign buttons, t-shirts, and other brand expressions. The result is a wordmark with an authentic, stylish retro vibe. For the bulk of its written communications, we choose the Neue Haas Grotesk typeface, using Cooper Black for extra punch where needed. We also developed a bold colour palette to amplify the organization's impactful messaging.  

We developed Mikva's new website featuring its invigorated brand and using stories and proof cases to convey the weight of civics issues and solutions and to advance Mikva's educational framework. Working alongside the organization, we reduced and reorganized its online content to build a more organized and efficient website. Greeting visitors to the homepage is a single, powerful statement: Democracy is a verb. Beside it, a cursor blinks with a sense of immediacy, signalling the importance of the next moment and of taking action now.

Three photos. The top shows Mikva Challenge's letterhead with a bold font and small white and red business cards. The middle shows multiple circles filled with different colours, exclamation points, the word
Four images. The top left corner says

Andrew and his team are an absolute pleasure to work with. Our website went live on time, on budget, and is not only beautiful — but easy to navigate. Our team felt Manoverboard really understood our organization and they were able to help us think through new and impactful ways to tell our story online. We look forward to continuing our work with Manoverboard.

— Mary Carlson, Chief Development Officer