With the meteoric rise of Extinction Rebellion over the past year, from bringing London to a standstill, to more recently turning down a nomination for Beazley Design of the Year prize, we thought it was time to reflect on the key benefits of audience ownership and how a brand born within a movement can take on a life of it’s own.

Every aspect of the Extinction Rebellion brand has the movement at its core. Take the hourglass brand mark for example, designed to represent that time has run out and change is now. The mark has a simple aesthetic, not because this is what’s fashionable or what some art director deemed passable, but because it can be easily replicated by the audience. Whether it’s in spray paint, marker, tattooed on the skin or projected onto the side of a building, everyone within the movement has something that unites them and their message.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 15: Environmental campaigners block Oxford Circus during a coordinated protest by the Extinction Rebellion group on April 15, 2019 in London, England. With demonstrations blocking a number of locations across the capital, the group aims to stop traffic for up to five days. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

These design decisions don’t stop at the brand mark. This ethos helped fuel all design decisions from the tone of voice, typeface choice and even colour palette. By keeping these elements simple, the audience can take these core elements and transform them to work on their behalf. This ensures that Extinction Rebellion is constantly evolving alongside the issues at hand. Creating a banner for change that their audience feels a part of furthers a sense of ownability.

Handing your brand over to your audience can backfire if not done correctly, but when it works, your brands reach is infinite. This sense of audience ownership will also help make key brand and business decisions, such as who to collaborate with, and more importantly, who not to.

Brand ownerships is huge, people buy into an idea and a belief, not a product or service. Every market is saturated, everyone can say the same things, so finding out the heart of your audience will not only help you stand out, but will also steer your business in the right direction moving forward.


Start with your people and your purpose, the rest will follow.