Background The Advocates for Human Rights is a Minneapolis-based non-profit dedicated to promoting and protecting human rights. Through cutting-edge research, education, and advocacy, The Advocates saves lives, fights injustice, restores peace, and builds the human rights movement in the United States and around the world. The Asylum Case Victory, created in-house, profiles recent clients and highlights their success stories. The target audience is donors, potential volunteer attorneys, media, and the public.



The Asylum Case Victory before (Left) and after (Right).


Analysis A comprehensive review of the existing Asylum Case Victory template revealed:

– The single-sided, letter-size page and rigid, rectilinear layout lack impact.
– Force-justified type creates awkward gaps within paragraphs. While the masthead stands out, other elements on the page compete for priority.
– Cool colors and crisp white feel at odds with the stark and often gritty reality faced by clients.
– The wordy headline lacks immediacy and feels cramped.
– The photograph is ambiguous. The setting resembles a corporate boardroom, undermining the message that help is needed.
– The map is tightly cropped and shows an unnecessary amount of detail.
– There is no phone number, web address, or call to action.



The large cover photo is not easily ignored.


Recommendations  To increase the visual presence of the publication and better meet the changing needs and goals of The Advocates, the following changes were proposed:

– The legal-size page may be printed double-sided to yield two 8.5″ × 7″ mini-posters, or printed single-sided, folded, hole-punched, and bound in a collection.
– The use of gently rounded corners and left-aligned, ragged-right type softens and humanizes the message. The large-scale photo and headline add impact, and the manila file folder motif communicates the idea of “ongoing work.”
– A limited palette of flesh tones and earth tones adds warmth, while high-energy red and black accents suggest urgency (“We need your help – now!”) and nod to a historical tradition of cause-related communications.
– Short, punchy copy communicates the essence of the story quickly.
– The photo is instantly recognizable from near or far and reinforces the human interest of the story. Removing the background further focuses attention on the subject.
– The simplified map adds context. (Where within Africa is Ethiopia?)
– The call to action and contact information provide an immediate way to actively support The Advocates.
– Many clients are reluctant to be photographed, for privacy rea­sons and fear of reprisals against loved ones who remain in the home country. Consequently, a number of alternative strategies were suggested, including photo­graphing the client from behind and/or in semi-silhouette; utilizing a “stand-in” for the client; photographing a variety of hands in gestures of defiance or peace; featuring the advo­cate rather than the client.



The new format is versatile. One legal-size page may be printed double-sided to yield two 8.5″ × 7″ mini-posters, or printed single-sided, folded, hole-punched, and bound in a collection.



There is a historical tradition of using a red and black color palette in protest or cause-related communications. By adopting this cross-cultural shorthand, the new design communicates the nature of the message even before the words are read.



To further maximize impact, wall or window display options include tiling a single issue, front and back (Left) or multiple issues, front only (Right).

  • You are an amazing designer. Not only are your designs creative, but your work is very intelligent. Thank you!

    Susan L. Banovetz, Director of Communications, The Advocates for Human Rights

Could your business communications benefit from a fresh perspective? Get in touch.




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