Advocacy | DEI | Brand Crisis Initiative | Public Service Announcement | Packaging Design | Informational | Social Media
"Hate is a Virus"
The objective of the assignment is to choose a brand and conceptualize a positive initiative campaign to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, utilizing the best practices and objectives outlined in the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Report
(Chosen Brand: Panda Express)
Asians/Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders (AAPI),
Non-AAPI community members, Panda Express customers
(All Genders & Ages)
Art Director •
AAPI Equity Alliance (formerly A3PCON)
Wash The Hate Movement Organization
#WashTheHate video from Panda Express Employees on the brand's official twitter
NBC News Article reporting how Panda Express employees have experienced racism
National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) Ant-Asian Sentiments Twitter Study
In conjunction with the COVID-19 pandemic, this project examines how brands deal with a global crisis. A responsible brand should initiate a positive impact on the world during trying times, using their influence to help educate and empathize with their audience. For the assignment, students needed to conceptualize a positive initiative campaign from a brand of their choosing to combat the pandemic.
This project was presented during the early height of the pandemic in April 2020, when information about the virus was still limited. At the time, stories of Asian hate crimes were exponentially growing and yet news of such violence was under-reported. As an Asian-American, I felt obligated to create a campaign where this subject was addressed and develop some type of solution.
After assessing optimal potential brands for my goal, the Chinese fast-food chain Panda Express was my final decision.
Panda Express is the perfect brand to initiate awareness, transparency, and conversation regarding the discrimina-tion, hate crimes and harassment the AAPI community (Asian American, Pacific Islander) is facing due to the xenophobia and racism emerging across the world because of the virus's origins.
I chose to use the Panda Express brand as an outlet for spreading awareness and supporting the Asian community through their strong vocal prowess and visibility on multiple platforms.
Panda Express will not only direct people towards pre-existing initiatives formed by other organizations to combat the issue, but also donate money and produce their own content to help educate their audience.
The other factors that make Panda Express an ideal outlet for this initiative campaign are the restaurant’s origins. The business was originally founded and still owned by Andrew Cherng and Peggy Cherng, Asian/ Chinese immigrants.
They have since established the brand as “authentically American Chinese” with their innovative combination of Chinese and American cuisine tastes. In this campaign, I wanted to emphasize this fact to help people build a deeper association between the brand and its real origins – made by Asian-Americans and Chinese Immigrants – thus helping to dissolve the pandemic’s ensuing anti-Chinese sentiment.
Using the Panda Express brand to support organizations and social agendas is also not completely unexpected. The business already has pre-established values, impact-
ting people nationwide by supporting various organizations, donating to local communities, in addition to their Panda Cares foundation (founded in 1999) to aid underserved youth.
In the context of this project, I could imagine Panda Express providing support for various Stop Asian Hate organizations like: the AAPI Equity Alliance (formerly A3PCON), STOP AAPI HATE, and Wash the Hate Movement.
Panda Express is also extremely viable because early in the pandemic, take-out rapidly increased with people stuck inside. The Stop Asian Hate packaging design and logos help deliver reminders and drive mass awareness for non-AAPI consumers.
Panda Express is perfectly suitable for this type of crisis initiative but fell short in the brand's actual response, underutilizing their voice to help rectify the anti-Asian/Chinese sentiment. On social media they did post a response to the #WashTheHate movement and some tweets addressing the AAPI issues, however I think merely that is lackluster. Even a simple campaign like mine here, could have provided more opportunities to rally a societal response and build consumer relationships.
The new icon designs are my own renditions for this COVID-19 campaign. I based the new designs from the original Panda Express logo and developed 2 versions.
The first execution is a revamped version of the brand's signature panda, but adding a face mask in correspondence with the new mask policies. I adjusted the logo's copy where the original tag "Chinese Kitchen" is normally found. Instead, I created the copy "Founded by proud Asian Americans" to emphasize the origins of the brand and the people who helped build it.
For the second logo, I developed a graphic based on my own interpretation. I wanted to bring back in this sense of humanity that could further evoke compassion from the audience. Reports of hate against Asians can feel cold and distanced from the issue as walls of text/numerical statistics are listed off. Often people lose sight of the realities others experience, featuring a human-like figure on the new design helps trigger this reminder.
Like the panda, the girl wears a face-mask. Her hair is styled in two buns to mimic the two black ears of the iconic panda bear. It also helps indicate to the audience that the woman is East-Asian. This hair style is often a cliché used to represent Asian women.
Although I don't try to use stereotypes in visuals, for this situation I needed to effectively promote a simplified message to a mass audience of mostly non-Asian consumers. The shirt is an American flag to help embody the "Asian American" idea visually.
Similar to the first new logo rendition, I changed the tagged copy at the bottom to read "Diversity, Inclusivity, Culture." Again, trying to draw a more human approach, establishing a desire for appreciation and acceptance despite everyone's differences.