CATEGORIES: NOT-FOR-PROFIT, ILLUSTRATION
The Big Issue
The Big Issue is a not-for-profit social enterprise dedicated to supporting and creating work opportunities for homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people. They are best known for their fortnightly, independent magazine, which is sold on the streets by vendors.
These vendors are not asking for charity. By selling the magazines, they are running a microbusiness, and The Big Issue is helping them to help themselves. Unfortunately, this concept is not well understood by the general public.
We met with the client and workshopped ways that the concept could be communicated. Our empathy forecast activity helped to elicit some of the assumptions made by members of the public, and the internal conversations that vendors have. This helped to extract multiple layers to the message, including:
We explored the possibility of communicating this message, and the unique business model, as a comic strip. After several iterations, we hit upon the concept of a single diagram depicting what is a virtuous cycle: make -> buy -> sell
The final image combined scenes from the original comic strip with the diagram depicting the cycle, with the vendor pictured at the centre of the process. We delivered portrait and landscape versions of the diagram, so that the magazine publishing team could fill half- or full-page slots when there were advertising slots that had not been sold.
The image was an absolute stand-out success, and led to additional work with The Big Issue for us to evolve the concept into an animated video. What began as a simple diagram to fill pages in the magazine in lieu of advertising slots evolved into a multi-media campaign that was screened nationally on free-to-air television, cinemas, and large outdoor displays in Melbourne’s CBD, as well as continued reach via The Big Issue’s various social media channels.
But the real impact was a growth in confidence in vendors, which came from them having a tool to clearly explain that they were not seeking charity, but were in fact running a microbusiness.
“The sketch clearly articulated The Big Issue model. It was really helpful to distil the transaction simply as ‘Buy, Make, Sell’—it showed that the ‘Make’ component was central to the enterprise. Without the creation of a magazine, there is nothing for vendors to sell!
The central element of the sketch clearly conveyed the sustainability of the model and the central role that the vendor plays. It packed a lot of information into one infographic.”
For more details on this project, or to learn how Sketch Group can help you make an impact by sketching your story, contact our friendly team:
Matt is Chief Doodler at Sketch Group. He has contributed to several books on visual thinking, most recently The World of Visual Facilitation.