Creating a Holistic Digital Label to Drive Marine Sustainability

Manual framework update and label creation for the French Climate Foundation using HCD methods

All companies across the globe, regardless of sector, must take responsibility and action for the marine impacts of their operations. This includes greenhouse gas emissions, plastic waste, wastewater discharge, and marine resource extraction.


To raise awareness, enforce responsibility, and monitor this situation, the French Climate Foundation enlisted our support to devise an updated framework.


The solution needed to be able to monitor the individual impact companies have on marine environments, and to provide visibility to those taking adequate action to boost sustainability.

The Challenge

Protected marine areas need effective management and resourcing to tackle overfishing, pollution, and ocean acidification. Despite the urgency of the situation, only 28% of French companies have prioritized Sustainable Development Goal 14, a United Nations initiative focused on marine conservation.


Recent climate change developments have intensified the need for a solution, with the world’s oceans relied upon as the primary climate regulator. From chemical and plastic pollution, to reduced oxygen levels and rising sea levels, these under-addressed issues are mounting at a concerning rate.

The Approach

Two design sprints were devised as a means of making rapid progress. The first sprint was dedicated to reframing the problem, defining priorities, and establishing a high-level roadmap. This involved 20 non-profit representatives alongside the operational team, and together they highlighted expected outcomes pertaining to the sign-up process, governance, and the first visual identity elements.


The swift progress of the first sprint was made possible by sequential activities, which were centred around questioning the why, how, and what relating to the challenge. With representation from all stakeholders during this process, we achieved a convergence of viewpoints that enabled challenges to be solved collaboratively. Tonality, brand personality, and the communications plan were devised and iterated upon using this system.

Following the completion of these phases, the OCEAN APPROVED® label was established. This label recognizes the commitment to the Ocean Framework, and makes it visible to stakeholders, customers, distributors, suppliers, partners, regulators, funders, and investors. The label serves as a rigorous form of governance, guaranteeing the credibility of an organization’s approach to marine sustainability.


A governance committee has been established as the owner of the label and it is tasked with guiding its mission. The committee makes the final decision as to whether a company is suitable to hold the label, which is the last phase of a seven-stage approval process. Other key labelling phases include auditing and recommendation.


After five days, the team identified the need for a new label. The next task was to ensure that a model for the solution was selected that would adhere with the overall mission, support scaling, and make the actions of the organizations using the label visible and measurable.


During the second sprint, we focused on conception and prototyping with a team comprised of 15 members, including designers. Key stakeholders worked on co-creating the experience itself, with the goal of ensuring that users would be encouraged to join the labelling programme. The output of this work was a detailed brief for an agency to implement the dynamic website.



Downloads since june 2020
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The Impact

The label has had a massive and demonstrable impact since its launch, with companies of all sizes getting involved and using it.


Today, in the region of 20 companies from sectors including transport, construction, digital, and cosmetics are using the framework to reduce their negative impact on the world’s oceans. The Ocean Benchmark was also approved as an SDG Good Practice by experts from the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs in June 2021.

Looking Into the Future

We can expect the new label continuing to drive adoption of the framework among companies, raising awareness about the need to control and minimize their impact on marine sustainability.


In time, we hope that this innovation will drive an industry transformation that will benefit the environment and future generations.

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