WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN AMERICAN: REPOSITIONING IMMIGRATION
This is a thesis project of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Art. Presented on the 11th of July 2017
Chair: Debbie Millman
Creative Director: Pablo Ulpiano
Team: Rosario Belli, Anisha Choudhury, Benjamin Havrilak, Namrata Kalani, Fabien Muenala, and myself Julia Makhalova
Scope of work: Brand Strategy and Positioning, Communication Strategy, Identity Design, Visual Identity, Digital Strategy
Today media is overheated with stories which many people don’t even think to be true. As a result, more and more people no longer understand the problems facing the world, and so do not know how to choose their way of engaging. Fear, blame, and withdrawal into the tribe became the default response. This is increasingly true for immigration in America.
SVA thesis project team was tasked to reposition “immigration” from being seen as a “threat” to an “opportunity,” and immigrants from being seen as “the other” to just “another.” The solution was to reposition “immigration” and its relationship to American identity, which we portrayed as mutually inseparable and beneficial.
America’s identity and success are inseparable
US has a truly unique cultural identity. Unlike any other country on the planet, it is founded not on obeying the social station one is born into, but taking risks to transcend it.
That means immigration has always been in the DNA of the country. Entrepreneurs, fruit pickers, artists, nannies, scientists, and nearly 40% of Nobel prize laureates have all come to this country, bringing new skills, creativity, culture, and adding to the diversity and prosperity of the nation. With courage and skill, immigrants built up America as we now know it. It is thanks to them that the entrepreneurial, risk-taking spirit has become synonymous with the idea of being “American.”
On the Lookout for the Other
Through the history of human evolution, we have been concerned with two main things: surviving and propagating our genes. When our ancestors lived in tribes they were drawn to people who were similar to them, because that usually promised a better chance of cooperation, and therefore, survival. “The other” -- anyone outside of that intimate core group, at that time, could mean a threat to safety, to prosperity and life. As society has become more sophisticated and interconnected, we have managed to enlarge the circle to include more and more (and more different) kinds of people. That is, until any situation of stress; it is at those points that we revert to our primitive instincts of labeling as “them” anyone who looks and behaves differently.
It is much easier to build commonality with behaviors, and America has emphasized exactly this, as a country founded on transcending tribal history. Standing up for American values--taking risks to realize something that has never been before--has been, for centuries, the main requirement for having a place in the home of the brave. As it so happens that kind of risk-taking attitude, and it is also exactly what you see in the immigrants who’ve been coming to America for centuries. We are all American. We are all immigrants.
United People of America
To realize this strategy, we propose a non-profit organization called “United People of America,” which aims to unite people beyond their tribal identities. The mission is to celebrate the immigrant heritage of all Americans in the country, and to inspire all immigrants to be proud of who they are. We are all Americans. We are all immigrants.
To activate the mission, United People of America will pursue three steps:
1) Raising awareness of the unique, immigrant-centered heritage of America;
2) Partnering with like-minded businesses to raise funds for our initiatives;
3) Creating a social movement to recognize immigrants and the immigrant experience.
The “100% American” campaign will raise awareness about the cultural heritage of every person in this country by emphasizing the fact that everyone in the USA is of immigrant descent. It will feature people, landmarks and cultural icons, which were created by visionary and brave immigrants. For instance, the Statue of Liberty: made by the French, but now recognized as 100% American.
Project United will be a brand partnership initiative that aims to spread the message and raise the funds to support United People of America. The campaign will showcase the importance of immigration to the American cultural identity by integrating the visual elements of “United People of America” to some of the most iconic American brands that were originally created by immigrants. For example, Levi’s was founded by a German immigrant and is now seen as an American icon.
We the Brave
To encourage people to get involved with the cause, we will introduce We the Brave: an online and offline social movement, which will foster dialogues on the importance of immigration and immigrant experiences throughout US history, as well as celebrate their bravery and determination in living out American values.
"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal." - Martin Luther King, Jr. We agree.
And this is our 11th of July presentation. Enjoy and let us know what you think!