As a designer at SUGi, most of my tasks were to create content for social media platforms, that are later transferred on the website and used in newsletters. The main focus of SUGi's social media presence is to bring awareness to their projects and to topics strongly related to their ethos such as The Benefits of Urban Forests, What is Biodiversity, The Importance of Soil or more historical stories such as The Chipko Movement and the El Tule tree. This allowed me to work on a variety of topics that challenge different sides of my skills and helped me develop so many others.
I've split the content into 5 categories: Nature Insights, In-Depth Guides, SUGi Focused Content, Forest Growth and Podcast. I've roughly explained the process and given a couple examples on each section. It might seem like a long scroll, but I wanted to encapsulate the variety of the work and skills used.
I. Nature Insights
Project scope: typography, layout, photo editing, video editing.
One of SUGi's aims is to educate people on various topics surrounding forests and nature, while promoting the amazing work that they do around the world. A bulk of their content is dedicated towards this. The main challenge of this task is making people engage with a more in-depth, scientific concept. We all know that our collective attention span has drastically shortened and our brains respond better to quick, fun, punchy content while scrolling on social media.
After much trial and error, we found one solution to be a bold cover image, playing with typography, using a big, punchy statement and nice, clean photography. And keeping the inside of the content for longer blocks of text, diagrams and scientific data.
After reading, researching and understanding the content of each post, we have nailed down a creative process that applies for most of the posts.
The post cover is the most important element, as it it the first thing the audience sees and determines whether they will keep scrolling or stop and read. So we start with the title, adjusting and playing with it till it's punchy and engaging. Then begins the search for the perfect image. This is a variety of stock images or photos from SUGi projects. A lot of trial and error ensues, until the final design feels good.
Below is an example of a couple of WIPs (left and centre) and the final cover.
Some final covers:
The next step is designing the rest of the post. Apart from the text slides, there usually are 3 or 4 of them that will be used to create a visual diagram, infographic or sketch that delves further into the topic.
And lastly, the final touch is including a quote from one of the Forest Makers or scientists that wrote the content and a call to action. The CTA includess the logo, the slogan and website. The colour is picked from the SUGi colour palette that matches the mood and edit of the photos within the content.
The Final Design Examples
II. In-Depth Guides
Project scope: typography, layout, photo editing, illustration.
Another type of content that features on SUGi social media platforms is the In-depth Guide on widely known topics or notions that are often used in the SUGi vocabulary. As these guides are not as frequent, each one of them has a different design, depending on the subject and any updates to the SUGi branding.
The SUGi Tree Guide
The main challenge of this post was finding an efficient and clean way to show all the different aspects of the issue at hand. The easiest way to go was to use a table style layout, split into 6 sections. After creating the silhouettes for each tree shape, the main breakthrough was adding the lines and arrows on top of them that emphasize and guide the eye to see the shape of each tree much clearer. After that, everything kind of came into place: the leaves were drawn, the map was edited and the cover was created.
What is Biodiversity?
This is one of the first SUGi posts I've worked on. Its main challenge was to find a nice way to fit all of the information in 8 slides. I started with choosing the main illustration from the SUGi Palette and slowly taking it apart throughout the post. After splitting the text into the 8 sections, I decided which ones can be played around with, which ones would need to be a double slider and so on.
The Jenga, cogs and forest ecosystem slides were the most fun to create and gave me the freedom to be very literal about the text, but also to add another layer of information and context to the entire post.
III. SUGi Focused Content
Project scope: typography, layout, photo editing, video editing, illustration.
This type of content is focused directly on SUGi Projects. Out f these, the most challenging ones to create are the ones that showcasing new projects. Why? Each project is vastly different, the information about each forest is also different and the content and context given for each is rarely the same.
However, there are some elements that are always included in these posts: the location and map of the forest and the statistics of the project (i.e. no. of trees, square meters, native species).
For example, the first post below is heavily focused on the forest design. Therefore, the sketch gif was the main element. This was created with SUGi textures and drawn over the original forest design given by the Forest Maker. The rest of the slides then go into detailing the gif.
On the other hand, this second example below is focused on the location and the ares's history. It also highlights some of the native species of trees and shrubs that will be planted in the future. This usually entails researching the species in order to draw the leaves, flowers or fruits in a more technical style.
IV. Forest Growth Reports
Project scope: video editing, audio editing + mixing, layout, photo editing.
An essential part of the SUGi content is showing the forests' growth. This is effectively done by showing a comparison between the initial site picture and the latest forest update. The challenge here is to visually show the stark difference and catch people's attention. Simultaneously, it is very important to create a story for each forest highlighting its particularities such as its location, the biodiversity, the climate and country the forest is planted in.
Powerful transitions are the best solution to showcasing a forest's growth from the incipient stage to the current one. This process is a bit restricted because of the available footage: finding photos taken from the same angle on multiple occassions is quite hard. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you need to manipulate the images by zooming in, cropping, rotating and other tricks.
When this is not at all possible, the solution I found is to use a split screen where one side shows the site of the forest / the planting process and the other shows the most recent growth. The important thing is to show a stark contrast and big difference in the colour scheme of the 2 sides.
The community and biodiversity
In order to give more context to the forests and outline a clearer story for each video, photos of biodiversity and the people that take care of the forest are included. Sometimes the same person goes there every year to take picture, so including that familiar face can do the trick. Other times there is footage of amazing, unique biodiversity that clearly depicts the respective climate and country for each forest.
V. SUGi Talks Podcast
Project scope: video editing, audio editing + mixing, layout, photo editing, typography, illustration
SUGi launched its first podcast this year, called SUGi Talks. Every month there's a new episode where the host interviews one of the Forest Makers or various environmental scientists. In order to promote this, a short and snappy excerpt from the podcast is singled out and turned into a reel.
The main part in the video creation is animating the text. This is done in rhythm with the intonation and speed of the speaker's voice, which usually creates a lot of dynamism and changes in pace. The visual is a picture of the guest surrounded by a cut out of a leaf/tree/fruit illustration from the SUGi Palette.