Take a photo, make an impact. For every photo you share through the Donate a Photo app, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) gives US$1 to a cause you care about.
A big part of J&J’s dedication to helping communities and causes is making the right connections, one person at a time. Donate a Photo is one way for them to connect people to nonprofits, increasing awareness and resources for deserving causes.
Current and future mothers who use or will use J&J products, especially “passionate passives,” people who feel strong about a cause, but do not participate (i.e. donate, volunteer, etc.) in helping it.
I was the Creative Director of Design and a member of the creative leadership team on the J&J account at R/GA. We partnered to lead the brief, concept, brand, product design, and launch of the Donate a Photo digital product and website.
I was lucky enough to work on this product over several years at R/GA. I launched the first major release of the app (which included filing a patent) and lead the first round of the redesign of the second major release. I transitioned teams before the second release delivered, but I am very proud of the foundation I helped lay.
The core team consisted of one UXer, one copywriter, one designer, and two app developers. In addition to the core team, we leveraged R/GA capabilities groups, including: Brand Design, Content Studio, and the Analytics team. The core team turned over between the first and second release, but the leadership team stayed consistent throughout.
J&J came to our team to help highlight the good work they do (including, at the time, around $600M+ dollars they donated a year to philanthropic organizations). They wanted to do something that went beyond passively watching a video or ad and empowered their audience to help causes they care about.
The simple idea:
pick a cause you care about, take or pick your photo to donate, and share it.
Because we were targeting “passionate passives,” Insights & Planning pushed our team to explore ideas that leveraged actions our audience was already taking, one of those actions was sharing photos on social media. One of the copywriter’s on the team came up with the idea of donating a photo. We took that idea as a group and ran with it, playing off one another to work through final mechanics of the program (fig 1.1-4).
Once we had the simple mechanics, we worked with J&J to identify the organizations we should include and helped create tangible actions that $1 would be able to do. Later we made some of those goals larger, so that groups of photos combine to take a larger action, but our initial mission that your photo maps to an actual action still held true.
For every $1 J&J donated to philanthropic causes they received the equivalent of $1.25+ in earned social media.
As the concept grew, we realized the artifact created for sharing would be an integral component of the program. We wanted something straightforward, recognizable and with a graphic element that we could use throughout the program. The most important thing was that our action statement was legible and eye-catching.
We wanted something straightforward, recognizable and with a graphic element that we could use throughout the program.
The core team worked with the R/GA’s brand team, we explored a lot of different directions, including creating filters for the photography, similar to those very popular in photo sharing when the app was first released. We also explored many different iconic photographic elements. We landed on photo brackets because they were simple, easily recognized, and could be used elsewhere in the product to frame our causes or messaging. We decided to leave the photos untouched. This program is about the action it is taking and we felt that should be the focus (fig 1).
As much as we liked the first Donate a Photo branding, it started to date very quickly. It came about at the height of the skeuomorphic app trend. The team and I were excited when a chance came for a rebrand. We brought in R/GA’s Brand Group once again and embedded our main designer with their team.
There was a lot of great exploration. A design by the Brand Group Creative Director really resonated with the team. It defied one of the main client asks, “don’t use a heart.” That request was a result of a previous campaign (by another agency) failing for being too saccharine. I believed ours was different because it came from an authentic place of caring.
Most of the time in a big reveal I look forward to the first moment I share work I’m really excited about, but with this I had some apprehension, even though I knew it was the right thing. After the reveal, the client said, “I love it, but we can’t do this. I asked you not to do this.” A little tension ensued, but ultimately I convinced her (with the help of the ECD) to put it in front of actual people and see if any of her concerns were valid. She agreed and we successfully pushed back.
It was shortly after that meeting that I started to transition off of the account, but looking at the design now (fig 2), the mark and the shared card remained as originally designed, and the key screens for the app that we had produced stayed almost untouched.
Helping a cause
If the shared card was the most important part of the brand, the most important part of the app was getting the mechanics of choosing a cause right. The card has the luxury of being our statement of intrigue, but not having to do the heavy lifting of communicating the program.
Once you’re intrigued and enter the experience, the Helping a cause page (fig 1) needs to communicate the breadth of causes, the type of actions that donating a photo enable, how many actions have been taken and how many actions are left before a cause is retired, and provide a call-to-action to donate a photo yourself.
From there the interactions were kept simple and followed a similar format to most social photo sharing apps. The one difference being a preview element showing the user where the branding would cover their photo (fig 2.1). We kept it light, so as not to be obtrusive.