Communications/Wikimedia brands/2030 movement brand project/FAQ

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Project details[edit]

What’s the core change of the “brand project”?[edit]

This project will create an evolved identity system for the Wikimedia movement. An identity system is a collected approach to branding, including names, logos and other identifying features for an organization. The proposed identity system will consist of a new naming convention and brand design for our movement.

The identity system will then be submitted to the Wikimedia foundation board for approval. If the board approves the new identity system, the identity of the Wikimedia Foundation will change, and affiliates will be allowed to opt-into the change. If the board does not approve of the new identity system, this change will not occur.

What is in scope for this project? What will not be changed?[edit]

The Wikimedia movement branding will be revised through this design process. Wikimedia project marks will not be adjusted.

Changing vs not changing.png

Why do we need to update our brand system?[edit]

Our 2030 goals ask us to reach billions of new people. We’re working to grow communities, readers, donors, supporters, and partners worldwide. Increasing the recognition and understanding of our brand will help invite people into our movement and navigate how our projects and communities connect. Research shows that very few people understand Wikimedia.[1] But many people around the world do know Wikipedia. Which has resulted in affiliates and volunteers defining their work in connection to Wikipedia.[2] This is a big growth opportunity for us to use the best-known brand we have to build movement growth. Think of it as a way to “shorten the distance” for people explaining our organizations, projects, and purpose by using Wikipedia not Wikimedia as the center of branding.


What issues could we face if we don't change the movement brand system?[edit]

There are three motivating problems:

  • The future of this wonderful, generous, social movement created is not guaranteed
  • To serve the world, Wikimedia needs to reach billions of people
  • The consultation revealed that the current system is not working well. “Wikimedia” serves as more of a barrier to participation than an invitation. It is an insider term that creates confusion.

Wikimedia’s relevance and survival is not guaranteed. As movement members, part of our job is to consider risks to the longevity of this incredible human achievement. Changes in society, policy, and technology, have been identified as significant risks to the nature and existence of the projects.

The vision of Wikimedia is for every person to share in all knowledge. Currently, awareness of Wikipedia outside of the United States and Europe is often less than 40%, and Wikimedia tends to test much lower than that at zero to 5%. To reach our vision we need to reach billions of people. The internet is different than it was in 2001, people use it differently and Wikimedia’s audience is not growing fast enough.

What is the timeline for this project? When do we expect to see the new brand system released?[edit]

We are expecting for the project to follow the following timeline, which may be subject to adjustment: by end of July 2020, we will have created an evolved brand system for Wikimedia that will then be presented to the Foundation's executive leadership and the Board of Trustees.

  • Process planning (July - December 2019)
  • Concept development (January 2020 - April 2020)
  • Naming convention proposal made to communities and refined (May 2020)
  • Brand design proposal made to communities and refined (June 2020)
  • System refined and presented (July 2020)

In fiscal year 2020-2021, pending approval, the new branding system will be released and adopted by the Foundation and affiliates who opt-in. See the project timeline page for more details.

Who is going to be affected by the brand changes?[edit]

Affiliates are critical participants in this project as they use the “Wikimedia” brand today. After consulting and collaborating with the Foundation on this process, Affiliates will each have the option to change their branding by opting-in to the proposed changes. It’s a choice for each group.

We hope to have participants from every/all affiliate(s). We want to know about how branding can help your work.

Projects will not be renamed. Part of the brand strategy suggested that Wikimedia Commons could be renamed to something like “Wikicommons”, but that decision is up to the Commons community.

We may develop a replacement to the “A Wikimedia project” icon that you find on project footers that shows how the project connects to Wikipedia. Our goal is to better link the projects together as a shared free knowledge network. Please help us define how we do this.

Community feedback in the process[edit]

How were community responses in the 2030 research and planning community review? What did the consultation reveal?[edit]

The goal of the community consultation was to determine interest in changing from a Wikimedia to Wikipedia-centered brand system. To accomplish this, in February 2019, the project established a community review process that determined what conversations would be considered as responses, and established key performance indicators (KPIs) that would serve as benchmarks for the community response. The process included KPIs for the amount of outreach conducted, the amount of feedback received, and the amount of support and opposition. The results of this process include:

  • The outreach and feedback KPIs were satisfied. The consultation was shared to 122 affiliates, of which 52 responded. While it's impossible to accurately measure the number of community members that were contacted, the consultation was presented on email lists and web pages with thousands of readers, and 144 community members replied.
  • A key performance indicator was that over 20% of affiliates support this change, and that was met, with 38% of the 63 affiliates that responded supporting the change, and 10% opposing.
  • There were two KPIs that measured community support, which required less than 20% of the community oppose the change, and over 20% support it. Neither performance indicator was met, as 40% of the community opposed the change and 14% supported it.

The foundation's initial evaluation incorrectly used the numbers of pageviews instead of the kinds of responses indicated in the process, and so underestimated the amount of opposition to the proposal. It also omitted the support percentage KPI. While these oversights were eventually corrected, this did not occur until after the incorrect report was presented to the Foundation Board.

How are the outcomes of the 2030 research and planning community review guiding the brand project?[edit]

The outcomes of the 2030 research and planning were summarized in a report that was presented to the Board of Trustees in August 2019. The 2030 research and planning uncovered six predominant themes in community perspectives on branding. These six themes were transformed into six criteria that any movement brand must meet:

  • 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 adopted gradually, allowing community groups to opt-in to the system at their own pace with support from the Foundation.

The community criteria and feedback from the 2030 research and planning are being used to guide ideas around an improved brand system for Wikimedia. The Wikimedia Foundation is partnering with the brand consultancy Snøhetta in order to generate ideas for how to use Wikipedia as a centerpiece while minimizing the risks and maximizing the benefits identified in the 2030 research and planning community consultation.

Why does this project continue to build on the idea of Wikipedia as a central concept when the majority of editors participating on Meta voiced concern about it and/or opposition to it?[edit]

Concerns and oppositions often hold useful information, but they do not solve the underlying issue that Wikimedia’s vision is not serving billions of people around the world. After hearing the range of concerns, the Wikimedia Foundation leadership still believes that using Wikipedia as a central concept in the movement brand is key for achieving our strategic movement goals. The concerns and opinions expressed by editors are helping to arrive at a better proposal.

Those concerns are captured in the qualities of good movement branding. The proposal for a new brand system must meet these qualities. The Brand Project Team is continuing to integrate any other concerns and ideas into the development process as they arise.

Why is this project moving forward after the RfC resulted in clear majority opposition?[edit]

The community-originated RfC reached an overwhelming consensus that it is not acceptable for the Foundation to use the name Wikipedia to refer to itself. Although the Brand Project has a larger scope than just the Foundation name, the issues discussed are relevant. The RfC surfaced a range of concerns and achieved consensus–by a ten-to-one margin–that it is not acceptable for the Foundation using the name Wikipedia to refer to itself.

The Foundation's Brand Project team believes that the community-originated RfC holds important information, in particular the themes of discussion. These themes are consistent with themes from the 2019 community review, which were converted into criteria by which all naming convention proposals should be evaluated. Phase 2 of this project, the movement-wide call for feedback on naming convention proposals, will ask respondents to evaluate the proposals against these community-generated criteria. This will give community members the opportunity to consider how each proposal may or may not mitigate the concerns from the RfC and 2019 community review.

The concerns from the RfC are being integrated into the process (see the report about the RfC), shared with the project design partner, and held in high regard as the project moves forward in service of the collective 2030 strategy goals.

Why does this process utilize off-wiki spaces for discussion and feedback gathering? How can feedback originating from these places be considered legitimate?[edit]

The movement is already using off-wiki spaces online (also beyond mailing lists, see for instance Facebook pages) and offline (Events and more). This is true in particular of newer communities, who are the ones that are growing quickly and projected to grow most in the upcoming years. These communities operate in contexts where many people don’t know the projects, and thus have a big stake in any rebrand. They need to be part of the conversation. The project team has gone where they are.

However, just because there are many channels for gathering feedback, doesn’t mean there should not be a central place for summarizing the information. It is critical to make feedback readily available in a clear and transparent way for people to review. All major feedback will be summarized and posted on Meta in the form of reports. See, for instance, the summary of participation and outcomes of the Bengaluru brand workshop.

Why has the process included workshops in person? How were the attendees chosen?[edit]

In-person workshops allowed interested community members from around the world to gather for two days to focus on the complex task of building concepts to explain what the Wikimedia movement means. Meeting in-person was a helpful way to spark creativity and iterate freely together.

In September 2019, the Brand Project team shared an update that outlined the findings of the 2030 research and planning community review, and invited community members looking to get more involved to join the Brand Network. Within one month, over 150 people had joined. An open call to sign up for workshops was posted to the Brand Network in December. The call was also posted to the Executive Directors mailing list and sent to user group members in under-represented regions, in order to ensure a broad reach with community members who use Wikimedia branding most (the affiliates). Great effort was made to accommodate schedules and availabilities for nearly 100 workshop participants. Almost everyone who expressed interest in attending a workshop was able to be scheduled to attend one.

For summaries of the process and outcomes of each workshop, see the Oslo brand workshop summary , the Bengaluru brand workshop summary, and the online workshop summary.


Is the outcome of this project already predetermined? What precisely has already been decided, what are the open questions, and to what extent can feedback impact the outcome?[edit]

No, the outcome is not predetermined. The Board has asked the Brand Project team to present a proposal for an evolved brand system. This proposal is being developed as the process advances, and the outcomes of each phase are unknown until each phase is completed.

What has been decided by the Brand Project team:

What has not been decided by the Brand Project team:

  • The proposed naming convention.
  • The proposed brand design.
  • The precise ways in which Wikipedia and other concepts and themes identified throughout community conversations will inform the proposals.

Feedback provided is actively shaping and will continue to shape the elements of the proposal that remain undecided. See the project timeline for details about when the Foundation's Brand Project team plans to discuss each element, and general timeframes for when proposals will be presented for movement-wide feedback.

Who owns the Wikipedia name?[edit]

From a legal standpoint, the Wikimedia Foundation is the sole owner of the trademark rights in the Wikipedia name and the Wikipedia logos. While the Foundation is able to utilize these assets freely in branding, the projects and the volunteers behind them have created the value of these brands. This is why it is important that the brand system help the movement achieve its goals.

Using Wikipedia as a central concept has been identified as having risks to communities in certain parts of the world. What is going to happen with these safety concerns?[edit]

There are legitimate concerns about the political and legal ramifications of a branding change that strengthens associations with Wikipedia. These concerns have been prioritized and reflected in the qualities of good movement branding: “Branding should mitigate legal and government risks”.

The Foundation is committed to protecting the safety of community members. As such, the team is especially seeking feedback throughout the process from members living in hostile political environments. The Foundation is also proactively researching what type of legal support will be required in order to both facilitate a brand change and mitigate negative consequences of one. Finally, in response to these concerns, the system has been designed as opt-in for affiliates. This means that no one will be obligated to change their name if they feel the system will not work well in their particular context.

What will an "opt-in" system for affiliates mean in practice?[edit]

Affiliates will be free to decide whether they would like to use the new naming convention and design elements. Adoption will likely happen in waves, as groups are ready to make a change, instead of any single change moment. Early adopters will help other affiliates see how and if they should make brand changes and further refine the movement brand system in practice. The goal of this project is to create a new brand identity that affiliates are excited to use, that acts as a tool to help clarify and make their work easier.

Will it be confusing to use Wikipedia for things that are not an online encyclopedia project?[edit]

This section is disputed, see the related discussion.


Wouldn't "Wikipedia France" be confusing to refer to the Wikimedia France chapter?[edit]

Yes, the Brand Project team believes that it would be confusing. It is very unlikely that any naming convention proposal made to the communities will be based on a simple substitution of the word "Wikimedia" with the word "Wikipedia" in affiliate naming. The project team is aware that prior communications and materials from the team might have given this impression, but such direct substitution is off the table. "Wikipedia France" is not being considered.

If Wikidata becomes more popular in the coming years, do you plan to rebrand to Wikidata?[edit]

Wikipedia is one of the world’s most beloved brands. Over 18 years, it has become a well-known (see awareness) and well-used (see unique devices) resource that represents global values of collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and international cooperation.

In Austria, for example, Wikipedia was just voted the #2 brand in the country, beating LEGO (#7) and Google (#14). Congrats Wikimedians of Austria! And German language Wikipedians! (What did we lose to by the way? Chocolate. It’s hard to beat Chocolate.)

Wikipedia has very high brand awareness. In the US and Europe, more than 80% of internet users have heard of Wikipedia. Even in our emerging regions, Wikipedia has ~40% awareness.

Wikipedia Awareness.png

Creating this level of familiarity has taken many years, and would take major marketing investments to re-create for other projects, including Wikidata. In our 7-nation 2017 brand study, Wikidata had just 22% brand awareness, meaning Wikipedia is twice as familiar, even its smallest awareness regions. Using Wikipedia as our central brand lets us build from this well-established foundation to lift all our projects and all our efforts.

All of our projects and communities could benefit from improved visibility, understanding, support, and participation. We believe that using Wikipedia as an overarching brand element will make that possible.

This is not an opposition to Wikidata.

How will the Wikimedia Foundation decide on adopting the brand project outcomes?[edit]

The results of the Movement Brand Project will be opt-in. That means each Wikimedia affiliate will get to choose if and how they adopt the updated brand materials. This self-determination includes the Wikimedia Foundation.

After Movement Brand Project results are finalized, the Foundation staff leading the project will present the new brand system to the Foundation’s leadership team and Board of Trustees for review. Foundation staff will also present a proposed approach and timeline for implementing the new system within the Foundation. The Foundation’s leadership and the Board of Trustees will review the brand system alongside the Foundation’s Medium Term Plan and commitment to the 2030 goals. The review will result in direction about whether or not to adopt the proposed system and, if relevant, will also provide direction on timing for adoption.


How does the brand project connect to Movement Strategy?[edit]

TL;DR - The brand project is inspired by the Strategic Direction and guided by Movement volunteers in service of the 2030 goals. It is a participatory and transparent process. As a result of opinions uncovered during the 2030 research and planning, and in respect of community self-determination, any results of the brand project will be opt-in for affiliates.

The Movement Strategy process has defined a bold strategic direction for Wikimedia’s next 10 years: “By 2030, Wikimedia will become the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge, and anyone who shares our vision will be able to join us.”

Recognizing the challenge of serving “anyone who shares our vision [to] be able to join us,” the Wikimedia Foundation Communications team began researching the Movement’s global brand positioning in 2017. We wanted to know how our projects were recognized and understood in the world, what people know and support of our mission, and how we could simplify our “brand architecture” to make it easier to understand and join our movement.

The resulting brand research and strategy suggested simplifying Movement branding by using the name Wikipedia in place of Wikimedia. How this should be done (as in, how new naming conventions should be developed, along with what brand design changes) is part of the current Brand Project. Like the Movement Strategy, the brand project is an open and participatory process. We invite anyone to join the process as part of the active working group, or by commenting on draft brand materials via email and on-wiki discussions.

Are the same people involved with Movement Strategy and the brand project?[edit]

The Brand Project is staffed primarily by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Communications department. With a responsibility for how the Movement is understood by public audiences (including press audiences), the Foundation’s Communication staff are specialists in adapting branding and messaging for strategic goals. The Brand Project is further supported by the Snøhetta design agency who are only working on this project, and some international contractors. As of February 2020, Chris Koerner (Foundation staff) and Rupika Sharma (contractor) are working on both the Movement Strategy process and the branding project.

Why is Snøhetta blocked on the English Wikipedia? Why has the Foundation chosen to work with them in spite of this?[edit]

A staff member at Snøhetta created the account User:SnøhettaAS before Snøhetta was hired by the Foundation. When the Brand Project Team spoke to Snøhetta about the block, they informed us that this staff member made the account during the selection process as a way to try to learn about editing the Wikimedia projects and to add content to the company page. The staff member was unaware of the conflict of interest policies, and was blocked on the English Wikipedia for “advertising or promotion.” The staff member did not fully understand the request made of the account and created a second account, User:Leilaoes, thinking that removing the company name from their profile would rectify the issue. As a result of this misunderstanding, this account was blocked as a sock puppet.

Although the Brand Project Team cannot and will not be involved in the community processes related to content, we have explained to Snøhetta staff the principles and policies where they ran into problems. They have passed along the information across the company.

Snøhetta is a global leader in design and branding. They bring years of expertise to the project. Their prior lack of awareness about Wikipedia’s editing policies does not hinder their ability to analyze feedback from diverse movement stakeholders and build a solid brand proposal. With a commitment to collective design practices, Snøhetta works best with lots of feedback from many perspectives, so they welcome continued input on the project and its materials.

How much does this project cost?[edit]

According to the 2019-2020 annual plan, the "Evolved identity system" is part of the Foundation's "Brand awareness" budget, which is funded at $2,200,000. Of that $800,000 is personnel, $800,000 is services and travel, and $600,000 is allocated to other. As the budget includes new investments of $700,000 in both Brand and Marketing, the budget for brand is between $700,000 and $1,500,000. The fraction of the brand budget attributable to this project has not been reported.

The budget for Brand Awareness, which included Brand and Marketing, is less than 2% of the Foundation's total budget, and this project's budget is a fraction of that.

The cost of rebranding to affiliates and projects, in money and time, is unknown. While the opt-in nature of the rebranding means that the affiliates can determine of money is spent on affiliate rebranding, both projects and affiliates will have to update references to the Foundation.