This post reflects the author’s personal opinion and not that of the Wikimedia Ghana User Group.
I got a message earlier this year about my availability to join the second Wikipedia Brand Workshop scheduled for Bengaluru, India; I wasn’t too sure how and what my contribution to the whole process would be. Mind you this has been a process I was actively involved in during the early stages of its conception by the brand’s team of the Wikimedia Foundation.
As I got heavily involved in the user group activities in Ghana, it became apparent that anytime we had to introduce ourselves and the Wikimedia Foundation, we always had to clear a lot of doubts. When the WMF started the process to re-examine its brands, I got excited and got involved with the process.
The visa process this time wasn’t stressful even though it was on short notice, you had to do an online process first and then submit your attaching documents which took three working days to get my visa.
In the email we received, we were asked not to do any prior research. We should just come blank and be prepared to go through the process that was set for us by the project implementers Snohetta.
After getting my visa a week before my intended travel date, I got more excited about my trip, making sure I was prepared mentally for it due to the whole COVID-19 scare at the time. It wasn’t declared a pandemic yet, so travelling wasn’t scary at the time as it is now, but I felt a little anxious, which is very typical of me anytime I had to travel.
During the early planning of the Wikimedia Movement Strategy by the Wikimedia Foundation the Communication department was tasked to research on the state of Wikimedia brands. Their goal was to understand the comprehensive system of Wikimedia project brands, i.e. names, brands, logos and perceptions in 2018 and examine what could be improved to support the whole Wikimedia 2030 movement strategy agenda. It led to a series of activities and planning on how to approach this entire brand change taking into account the diversity within the Wikimedia movement. A roadmap created to adequately address this whole brand change process and get the movement to be fully involved in the process.
The brand and design process is an open one very iterative as well; this means that we will create, get feedback and refine as we go according to the brand project page on meta. The timeline for the 2030 movement brand project was and is as follows; Concept development (January to April), Naming conventions for discussion (May), Branding designs for review (June) and Final refinement and style guide (July). There are three major players involved in this whole process: The Wikimedia movement, The Wikimedia Foundation and Snohetta the design firm helping to facilitate collaborative design processes. There were two brand workshops held in Oslo and an online one before the one I was to attend in Bengaluru, India.
“In 2019 the results of the 2030 research and planning community review presented six qualities/criteria surfaced by the community review that should guide the 2030 Movement Brand Project” according to the Wikimedia Communications Team. These qualities, as presented in this research, was referred to as the six “Movement Branding Criteria” and they are as follows, quoting verbatim from the document.
- Branding should reduce confusion about the distinction between organizations and projects, clearly identifying what roles platforms, volunteers, affiliates, and the Foundation play in the movement.
- Branding should protect and improve the reputation of the movement, increasing trust in our content and contributors.
- Branding should benefit the sister projects so that Wikipedia’s international popularity and centrality to our movement are used to improve usage and participation in related projects.
- Branding should mitigate legal and government risks to movement participants and affiliates so that volunteers are not blamed or punished for Wikipedia content in places hostile to Wikipedia content and our policies of free speech.
- Branding should grow our movement by appealing to new users, contributors, donors, and partners around the world, and inviting them to join us in our 2030 direction.
- Branding should be adaptable and adopted gradually, allowing community groups to opt-in to the system in a way that is personalized and localized, at their own pace, with support from the Foundation.
Push media for the Wikimedia Foundation CC BY SA 4.0
After about 18 hours of flight time, I arrived in Bengaluru, India very optimistic and ready to go the full haul during the Wikipedia brand project workshop. This concept workshop hosted participants from 23 nations across the world, prepared to share ideas and perspectives that represented the Wikimedia movement. The concept workshop attempted and got participants to answer the question “Who Are We” with regards to Wikipedia and the Wikimedia movement. We were engaged in a series of activities that made sure the very fundamental question we sort to answer got dealt with to the fullest. I got the opportunity to be interviewed in between the sessions where I talked about what the Wikimedia movement is to me.
In between doing serious Wikipedia brand concept work, there were the night’s events as well, where we got to explore India food at it’s finest. Dinner was an opportunity to catch up on old friends and also make new friends in a very relaxed environment. As someone who is very notorious for beer drinking, I didn’t hesitate to drink a few more beers there and made sure I sampled the indigenous Indian beer called Kingfisher. Making it the 9th country I have drunk beer from as my list of countries grows. Accepting to go to India would stand as one of the best decisions I took in an already troubled 2020.
The Wikipedia Brand project is in the phase where the naming conventions is ready for a series of community feedback rounds from the various affiliate organizations within the movement. My article seeks to introduce this whole process to you in a straightforward way so that if you are not familiar with the Wikimedia movement, you can understand it.