This spread from the latest Harvard Business Review caught my eye. It bothers me and I’m not entirely sure how I’d redesign it, which, of course, bothers me even more.


The counters of the typeface are clogged up and the heavy, dark block is clogging the page up. The line under “PHILANTHROPY” makes the block look like it is overbearingly pressing down on the subtitle. The subtitle isn’t aligned with anything, which is fine, but being so small and relatively narrow, it looks like an unstable perch for the heavy burden of text on top. Does any of this represent the meaning of the story, which is about revolutionary ways of donation?

I played with a few alternatives but wasn’t completely satisfied with any of them. My favorite concept was a blank check with a bold backdrop. I set the title audaciously across the “pay to the order of” area, placing the subtitle in the memo area, and putting the authors in the signature area with a marker-like highlight. Subtle drop shadow under the check to lend it realism. A bright, clashing background to emphasize the audacity of a traditional check.


It can definitely use some improvements or even more concepting. But for a quick riff, I think it’s headed in a more communicative direction than the original.