In a Nutshell
Did you know that since 1900, we've lost more than 70% of the crop varieties that were available on earth? Did you also know that preserving this biodiversity is absolutely imperative if we are to survive climate change? We did not. At least until the Crop Trust contacted us.
- Motion design
- Web development
Biodiversity for the common good.
The Crop Trust was founded in 2007 by Cary Fowler, a world‑renowned scientist, and with the support of the United Nations and FAO.
The purpose of the Crop Trust is to build and finance a sustainable, global network of genebanks around the world that will empower farmers to select and grow crops that are more resistant to climate change.
The Crop Trust vision is highly ambitious. It needs to raise $850 million and convince most of the governments around the world to be part of the project. This means considerable work and effort in order to raise awareness about its cause, and that's exactly why they got in touch with us in 2014.
The initial request was to overhaul the branding and website but our collaboration went far beyond that.
A strong identity
Our first mission was to challenge the branding of the organization to better reflect its vision and ambitions.
The Crop Trust is a global organisation active in more than 100 countries around the world. Our first step was to go back to the roots of the Crop Trust mission and values to identify universal patterns we could use in our work: crops, agriculture landscape, cultural drawings, etc.
Quickly, we set out the main visual foundation of the new Crop Trust branding : crops... expressed as triangles. That simple shape, combined with a universal set of color tones and an isometric grid system opened a completely new range of possibilities to draw complex, yet universal branding elements.
The next step consisted in using the grid system and the visual framework to build a logo that would successfully communicate the nature and mission of the Crop Trust: Safeguarding the world crop diversity for the common good.
The reaction of the Management Board of the Crop Trust? "You've got it! This is Crop Trust!".
Telling their story
How can we get a global audience - from our grandmothers to renowned scientists - engaged with the Crop Trust? How can we make a complex story short yet comprehensible? What are the key aspects of their storytelling?
You can have a great visual identity and an all singing, all dancing website but without a strong, consistent and engaging story to tell, any of the fancy graphics are useless.
This is why we sat down with the Crop Trust team in order to write its story and build the user journeys. We were then able to identify the role of the website within the conversation with its audience.
The Doom's day bunker
Safeguarding food diversity is not a very tangible concept and it's easier to relate to something you can see or touch. Quickly, we realized that the Svalbard Global Seed Vault was the best physical representation of this abstract concept. It's a beautiful bunker built on the most northerly and one of the safest points of the earth: The North pole. Also known as "the doomsday bunker", it acts as the ultimate backup of crops diversity.
Far, far away in the North
Welcome to Svalbard!
Even though there were already hundreds of pictures of the Seed Vault, it was extremely important to have visual assets that would fit perfectly within the new website design. And so – you've guessed it - we packed our warmest jackets and traveled straight to Svalbard to get the pictures and interactive content we needed.View our journey
Complex content layered carefully
How do you build a visually appealing website with a lot of content? How do you engage users with highly different expectations?
Inspire. Educate. Engage
Our solution to content structure was to organize it into three layers. These covered the most simple, visionary messages right through to the more complex, technical or science-related content.
The first layer was created to inspire the user about the Crop Trust's major vision. The second one was meant to educate the user about the concrete actions to undertake in order to achieve the vision. Finally, the third layer was designed to hold relevant content to trigger action for the different audiences : Scientific articles, government toolkit, donation form, etc.
It is said that real beauty is invisible to the naked eye. Designing the user interface of the Crop Trust’s main website was more about building an efficient navigation, a strong but flexible style guide and a grid system that would emphasize the content and make it easier to read.
Global impact, visualized
One of the key features of the Crop Trust website is the tailor-made interactive map. For the public, the purpose of the map was to show the global impact of the work carried out by the Crop Trust. Meanwhile, for the scientists, it's a convenient tool to find relevant data about a specific crop or country contributions.
In light of the above, it was important to build a dynamic map that could be updated automatically while simultaneously being very easy to use. To achieve this, we used Mapbox map API with SVG icons and data visualizations.
A truly interactive visit
Inside the Global Seed Vault
Visiting one of the most secret and remote places in the world was a really super cool (bad joke...we agree!) experience for us. Communicating this experience to the phone or desktop computer of every potential future user was not that easy.
Back then, VR and 360° video technologies were not yet a thing. We came up with the idea of using a 360° panorama connected with custom-made interactive interface so that users could be able to visit the Vault and follow a seed deposit step by step.
However, the biggest challenge was clearly the climate conditions. From capturing the panoramas in the snow storm to dealing with frozen lenses at -25°C…Gosh, that was EPIC!
Educating their audience
Video has always been a very powerful way to tell a story.
Therefore, we've packed up the essence of their vision within a 1:30 animated video with a tailor-made visual universe.
The video has won a "video of the week" award and we have since then used it as the foundation for 5 other videos.
A never ending story
Since its launch in 2015, the Crop Trust's website and digital tools have never stopped evolving. They continually reflect user feedbacks while our collaboration with the Crop Trust went way beyond the website itself to include its annual report, photo reportage, printing materials, etc.