The Brand Identity

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How & How’s identity for self-initiated campaign Deadly Dust is both calming and despairing

Lisbon-based design studio How & How have warned us before about the threat of plastics. Now they come to us with their identity and campaign for Deadly Dust, an in-house initiative aiming to raise awareness of the shocking role car tyres play in pollution. Described as mega polluters, one study puts the dust from car tyres as 28% of the microplastics in our oceans, dispelling plastic particulates as we drive and the tyres wear down. 

Research became the foundation of this project’s creation, speaking with How & How’s Creative Director and Co-founder Cat How, who explains that “I used to be a journalist, so I’m addicted to the news and any new papers out that are being written around the climate emergency.” Discussing her “morbid fascination” with ocean plastic and microplastics, especially due to her close proximity to the ocean, How notes that “I read a lot around the subject as I wanted to make sure that our sources were diverse and varied,” keeping an open mind and reading everything from The Guardian and National Geographic, to Emissions Analytics and the Institute for Polar and Marine Research.

The overwhelming aesthetic of Deadly Dust is its tranquil but impactful use of gradients. The colours came from the idea of a spectrum between plastics you can see and those you can’t,” How explains, something that her and animator Christian Beck playfully describe as “Tyre to Dire.” From one end of the spectrum is a silky black, representative of the car tyre plastic, whilst its counterpart is an acidic neon. Hoping to be scarier, How describes it as “a poisonous, minty neon that you can hardly see but is much more deadly.”

The result is equal parts ominous and calming, that on one hand makes you acutely aware of the issue whilst not being too intimidating; encouraging one to engage with the content. This is directly supported by La Nord, their choice of typeface. “Much like dust, it is delicate and beautiful,” How remarks, “yet also extremely cold.” In keeping with the tone of the campaign, the typography treatment is quiet and reserved, yet somewhat despairing. 

“We wanted to combine the circular wheel of the car tyre into the moving latitudes and longitudes of the Earth,” How explains, in describing the recurring circular movements of the campaign. To this end, it shows how the emitted tyre plastic has reached every hemisphere of the globe. 

Acting somewhat as a spiritual successor to Eat Less Plastic; How notes that Deadly just has a more grown-up and ultimately more complex approach than their previous plastic-focused campaign, “with multiple statistics and messages we needed to get across.” The campaign has teamed up with the Tyre Collective, a Dyson-Award-winning initiative that has sought to capture the microplastics from tyres through a small device mounted on the car. “In terms of more BeHalf campaigns (studio projects we developed with Mother Earth as our client),” How tells us, “there are definitely more in the pipeline… watch this space.”

Typeface: La Nord by Raoul Gottschling

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