Black Lives Matter


Using creativity to make protest possible: Purpose-driven agency, Revolt, devised one of the world’s largest ever virtual protests in support of Black Lives Matter.

© Revolt

Revolt, a creative agency and management consultancy, focus their purpose-driven work on accelerating positive change in the world. Three key elements fuel all of their work which they describe as “underpinned by the same belief that brand have the power to be a force for good.” These characteristics include, purpose-consultancy, understanding what drives a businesses objective; activist agency, cultivating a client’s success through aiding the needs of the world; and change accelerator, utilising the power of branding to propel  more effective change.

The opening line on Revolt’s website, we think, epitomises the theme of this week on DesignBy, Activism, and is a powerful call to action: The world is on fire. There’s no time to watch from the sidelines. The most successful brands of tomorrow will be the ones that take a stand today. So pick a fight. Plot the future. It's time to make sure your actions speak louder than your words.

© Revolt

In one project undertaken by Revolt, their passion for activism and supporting positive change becomes particularly evident. In reaction to the unlawful killing of George Floyd in 2020, protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement broke out across the globe. However, during the period of the global pandemic, COVID-19, many supporters of the movement did not feel safe enough to take to the streets amid the threat of the virus. Revolt wanted to create an alternative form of protest in which everyone could get involved and hear from motivational speakers and leaders of the movement. In order to this, Revolt devised a virtual protest which provided a platform to key grassroots organisations and connected millions of supporters across the world over Zoom. The virtual demonstration became one of the largest ever online protests, reaching a total of 4 million people worldwide.

In keeping with the tone of the mainstream Black Lives Matter movement, Revolt’s design team employed the recognisable raised fist, bold type, colours (yellow, white and black) and powerful statements to develop a strong visual identity for the virtual protest.  

© Revolt

Through an excellent concept and strategy, supported by simple but powerful branding, Revolt uses creativity as real-world activism to: educate, build networks, and most importantly, make change happen.

We got in touch with Sofia Sakar, Business Director at Revolt to find out more about her involvement in the project and how Revolt brought the idea to life in a short space of time.

This type of project differs to what we often see from creative or branding studios. I would love to hear in your words why Revolt takes such a different approach?

Sofia: Revolt’s philosophy as a whole is that we believe that brands have the ability to change the world and do good. So, everything that we do is about helping brands find their purpose.

The business director explains how Revolt works with brands in two different ways. Firstly, they work alongside brands to influence an existing audience, or they will develop a brand to provide a movement with a sense of identity, creating a more accessible and cohesive story.

Sofia (on the Black Lives Matter project): As a B corp Revolt offers 5% of our time to help with not-for-profit issues. When the Black Lives Matter movement was happening, that was something I particularly felt very strongly about. Revolt allows and encourage us as employees to stand up for things that we believe in.  

Sofia outlines how the attitudes and values that Revolt embraces are reflected in it’s employees, leading to a team of staff that care deeply about the issues they work on. Touching on her time at larger studios, she explains the difference in the work taken on and what Revolt aimed to achieve in the Black Lives Matter Project:

Sofia: The work can create interesting opportunities to create award-winning campaigns but you can lose sight of why you’re doing it. I think what we are quite good at is thinking, ‘Well, what are we trying to achieve here?’. On the London Black Lives Matter movement we wanted people to experience what being on the streets would have been like and to learn from that. We realised that part of being at a protest, particularly when engaging with people who may not usually get involved in that area, is the you learn things. You meet people you wouldn’t normally meet, you might overhear opinions that you wouldn’t normally engage with in your normal social circles. There’s a sense of being uncensored, you can’t control what will happen or who will attend. It’s that raw energy that you’re not going to find in a BBC interview or on the news. So capturing that energy was really important to us.

The design of the virtual protest itself formed another key element in mirroring the spirit of in-person demonstrations.

Sofia:  Even from a design perspective, using the Zoom backgrounds and bright colours from the London BLM movement, creating a sense of movement, as well as lots of different things to engage with. We used different screens to deliver different points of information and have different perspectives. Although you may have to divert your attention across different screens, it helps to create that sense of energy of when you’re there. You may be listening to someone and then receive other information and then you’re seeing the reactions around you, there is quite a lot to digest but we wanted it to compliment each other and create a sense of dynamism.

© Revolt

How did the project come about, was Revolt approached with the idea or did they develop the whole premise of the project?

Sofia explained her personal investment in the London BLM, having had family members often experience racism. Being unable to attend due to close individuals being high-risk (COVID-19), meant she began to consider how many people felt similarly. She proposed an idea for a virtual protest to one of the Revolt founders. After being given the go ahead and use of agency resource, the team gave themselves 24 hours to develop the project.

There was a clear purpose of the project in terms of what it would achieve and what the outcome should be:

Sofia: It’s about giving a voice to grassroots leaders, to people that you wouldn’t normal hear on mainstream TV, to understand their perspective of why this is important…The idea is that we would listen to people on the ground, and then for people who weren’t there physically, they could then talk about their experience as part of this event.

What did the virtual protest consist of and how did you organise it?

During the interview Sofia outlined how the team went about organising the virtual protest and what was necessary for it to function. With the hope of gathering thousands of people online without the programme crashing, working with a technological platform was the first obvious necessity.

Sofia: We managed to get through to the CEO of Zoom who agreed to be part of it.

They also felt that selecting and organising individuals to speak, guide and follow the movement on the ground was crucial.

Sofia: We contacted (via instagram) loads of different organisations, BLM, London BLM, and couple of other groups to say that we had an idea and we’d love to chat to them.

London Black Lives Matter (separate to the main BLM movement), the youth-led grassroots organisation and one of the major protests groups, replied and they had a call on 12pm of day one.

The team spent 48 hours reaching out to a variety of contacts, curating content and organising speakers, as well as designing the visuals of the experience. A list of actions, places to donate, and activities to get involved in were drawn together for the viewers. Following this they had 24 hours to utilise media and press to spread the word.

Sofia: While people are listening, if they feel motivated, what can they then do? So this isn’t just an ‘I showed up’, it actually drives action. 

© Revolt

A clear sense of a real and meaningful drive for change, it was inspiring to hear such a personal connection to the work undertaken in this project and Revolt more widely. Creating a lasting impact that reaches beyond the short timeframe of the campaign is crucial to the company.

Sofia: Off the back of that we’ve been implementing our D&I programmes and we carried on building relationships with all the grassroots leaders, helping them with their movements a year down the line… if you’re going to take on and issue and be part of it, actually be part of it, and see it as a long term commitment versus an opportunity just to get some press and attention or do something because it’s popular.


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All credits to our talented illustrator Molly Pattinson. Follow her here.