A ribbon runs through it

How a coastal resilience leader struck a balance of thought and action

Project feature | 8 min read | Skip to details

When it was adopted by the City of Boston in 2016, the Boston Climate Action Plan was among the most ambitious and comprehensive policies in the U.S. Boston can thrive “if it takes action to adapt its people, its neighborhoods, and its economic and cultural assets, starting now.” To ensure that the plan would be implemented into reality, the Boston Green Ribbon Commission—an influential body of business, civic, and institutional leaders—was established.

Today, the Green Ribbon Commission provides thought leadership, policy agendas, education, and resources to mitigate the impacts of sea level rise in the region. And it enjoys a global reputation as an effective agent of climate action. Ummo was tasked with translating the Green Ribbon Commission’s reputation and policy agenda into a brand—and a robust online resource.

Ummo recognized a central tension in the brand: climate change is an urgent, emotional topic. But the Green Ribbon Commission is a policy network—scientific and deliberate. A new brand would need to balance the urgency of action with the thoughtfulness of policy. 

“It’s such a positive step forward,
and we will leverage it with pride to advance the climate mission. It reflects modernity and action.”

Amy Longsworth, Executive Director, Boston Green Ribbon Commission

The organization’s new website strikes that balance. Reminiscent of a newspaper, the landing page is organized into columns of flexible content. A “masthead” tracks real-time tides and temperatures in the region, emphasizing the reality of climate change in the daily lives of communities. The landing page introduces a content mix that ranges from policy white papers to news items to biographies of Green Ribbon Commission members. Clear and legible, the landing page is a gateway to a deep repository of resources—a trove of substantive content. 

The Green Ribbon Commission resources section is an authoritative collection of materials regarding policy, case studies, and research. We created a searchable, exquisitely-organized interface that invites users to enter the collection in multiple ways. For example, users may scroll through the collection, sort resources chronologically, or dive deep into a particular subject area.

A little more action: The new website is an exercise in balancing the organization’s thoughtful, rigorous policy resources with a clear call for action.

Raising the flag—The secondary mark mimics the motion of a waving flag—or a winding ribbon

As we guided the board and staff of the Green Ribbon Commission along the design process, it also became evident that the organization’s overall brand required a refresh. We developed a comprehensive visual identity that—like the website—seeks to balance a contemporary, engaging vibe with credibility. The main typographic identity is augmented by an icon of an abstracted ribbon; we refer to it as a “standard,” alluding to a flag raised in a call to action. A restrained color palette, rich in greens and neutral tones, reinforces a feeling of institutional weight. A sub-brand for GRCx, the organization’s popular speaker series, picks up the same visual cues but dials up the volume with a palette of neon greens. The new brand and the website that manifests its values is now amplifying the Green Ribbon Commission’s important work.

X marks the spot—GRCx is a platform for contemporary—and at times contentious—conversations. Its sub-brand turns up the volume with neon colors and bold shapes



Rebrand and website for the Boston Green Ribbon Commission


The Boston Green Ribbon Commission



Developer Alex Knoll

How it started, how it’s going

Continuous updates on the City of Boston’s website track the progress of the comprehensive Climate Ready Boston initiative