Prison Books Collective

You are outside. Mass incarceration in America is a complex and nuanced problem. But beyond the protests and policy debates, there are millions of people living their lives inside prison walls, every single day. One of the many indignities incarcerated people experience is lack of access to information — and this is by design.

Prison Books Collective is a North Carolina-based nonprofit that is focused on providing books, zines, and other informational resources to prisoners, by request and free of charge. We conducted a brand strategy engagement with the Collective to help them define their identity, create impactful social media content, and produce boldly-sloganed swag to raise their local profile. With this strategy, the Collective is unified around a focused message: the daily reality our incarcerated neighbors experience is wildly different than the one we get to experience outside prison.

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  • Inside | Outside starts with awareness in physical spaces, leading to reflection and education in digital spaces. PBC distributes communications across digital and physical media that vary in terms of messaging, audience and needs.

  • Visual strategy folds in PBC attributes, their anarchist origins, and tactile nature of their work through bold typography, a restrained color palette, and natural textures.

  • Activism Critical Design

    In alignment with PBC's ethos of transformative justice, this strategy leans on the idea of discursive design, a form of design advocacy that transforms utilitarian design things into thought-provoking objects through bold messaging. Through a discursive strategy, PBC’s swag is transformed into education and conversational catalysts that prompt self-reflection about mass incarceration.

  • The boldest execution of PBC’s voice and design is through the slogans on physical objects, to be placed in locations that provide the opportunity to point out the freedoms we in the outside world enjoy that our imprisoned neighbors are routinely denied.

  • Content Strategy Storytelling

    Digital media, particularly Instagram, is where the bulk of PBC’s messaging and content lives. We applied a visual, communication, and content strategy that enables PBC to paint a multidimensional narrative explaining who they are, what they stand for, and what they need. The goal is to deliver on these core aspects inherent in PBC’s work: advocacy for prisoner voices, education of broader carceral issues, and organizational needs such as book requests.

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  • Digital content surfaces literature, prisoner voices, PBC operations, and advocacy posts.

  • Through a consistent application of color, typography, and content, PBC's digital presence resembles a quilted patchwork—a myriad of ideas rooted in a common cause: the right to read.

Summary

We worked with Prison Books Collective to create a bold brand strategy that draws awareness to the incredible freedoms we take for granted in the world outside prison walls, with prompts on how we can help our incarcerated neighbors on the inside.