The U.S. Constitution has been vitally important since its ratification in 1787. But in 2017 the document gained renewed cultural relevance, due to the increasingly bitter divisions that define the current American political climate.
It’s why ThoughtMatter chose this year to redesign the document to be more accessible, visually exciting and easy to read.
Through help from crowdfunding, an awareness campaign and several partnerships, we are working to get a copy of this seminal document into the hands of as many of the nation’s students as possible.
People currently feel disconnected from democracy and the Constitution itself. We discovered that even though the document is constantly referred to by both politicians and civilians, many had never read the document in full, and many didn’t know as much about its content as they initially believed.
We set out to change that, taking on the task of modernizing the Constitution through a redesign and rebranding that not only would pay homage to what the document represents but also inspire the kind of excitement it deserves.
A great brand can generate excitement and evoke emotion. It makes people want to buy into something—to support it and become a part of something bigger than themselves. And when a brand is about more than just commerce, when it is altruistic and meaningful, it can help change things for the better.
By applying consumer branding and design principles to the Constitution—a document that had never really been branded before—we felt we could elevate the important messages contained in the document and spark an ongoing, multi-faceted movement around its importance and what it means to citizens in present-day America.
We began the For the People Project by building an entire brand around the Constitution.
Using the document’s opening words, “We the People,” as a foundation, we positioned the Constitution as the document made by the people, for the people, to define and protect our rights, and to connect us as American citizens. We then created a visual identity that we applied to our redesigned Constitution and the suite of creative assets that make up and support the For the People Project.
Our branding and visual system first came to life in a redesigned copy of the Constitution that made the document more interesting and digestible than standard versions, and compelled people to look at, examine and interpret it with more interest than ever before.
We used an original, unaltered transcript of the Constitution, Bill of Rights and amendments 11-27 from the National Archives, without any interpretation or commentary—meaning the document’s content was not changed in any way.
Our version of the 230-year-old document puts a twist on the classic red and blue color palette, using Pop-Tone Pink Lemonade paper from French Paper Co. and “Federal Blue” ink. The 7” x 10” book contains three sections with the Bill of Rights and amendments 11-27 placed in the middle.
To reach and include as many people as possible, we launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund printing and shipping costs to send our Constitutions to schools across the country. We ultimately raised more than $15,000. When a backer chose a reward tier that included a copy of the book, we pledged to print and send an additional copy to a school on their behalf.
As part of its “Preamble Challenge” Constitution Day Celebration, the Civics Renewal Network offered 10 copies to each teacher who signed their class up to participate. Mohawk donated enough paper to print 1,000 copies of our Constitution to be distributed by the organization.
These partnerships have made it possible for us to print and donate even more copies of the book to schools in America.
The Constitution is currently a popular topic across social media platforms, but we found that it’s most often used for political or partisan gain—where an individual or organization cites their interpretation of a piece of the document in an attempt to make a point.
In planning our social media campaign to generate awareness of and excitement around the For the People Project, we focused on creating highly sharable posts that focused people on the Constitution’s general importance regardless of their political leanings.
Every day, we posted fresh content to our channels before, during and after the Kickstarter campaign, keeping momentum going and updating followers on how the project was progressing.
A video hosted by comedian Scott Rogowsky helped illustrate the disconnect between many citizens and the Constitution.
Additionally, a mock press conference video gave a brief explanation of the project and what we hoped to achieve.
We also took to the streets of Brooklyn, where we wheatpasted promotional posters in pedestrian-heavy areas.
As the For the People Project continued to gain momentum, we used our branding and design system and messaging to quickly create forthepeopleproject.org, a website that serves as the central home for information and developing news related to the initiative.
National Constitution Day (September 18, 2017) gave us a timely opportunity to generate more momentum around the For the People Project. With support from Mirko Ilić Corp., The Constitutional Sources Project (ConSource) and The Cooper Union, we organized the We the People Poster Exhibit to further help bring the For the People Project to life.
We curated posters donated by 12 prominent designers from across the nation including Milton Glaser, Jessica Hische, Edel Rodriguez and Jonathan Key. Each designer took on the challenge of creating a poster about one of the 10 amendments that make up the Bill of Rights, and another about the Constitution’s Preamble. The work was initially slated to be on view at the Cooper Gallery in New York City during Constitution Week (September 18 – 23), but was extended an extra week after a successful opening.
We held an opening reception for the event, during which we sold printed copies of our redesigned Constitution. For each person who purchased one, we pledged to print another copy that ConSource would distribute to schools across the nation.