ZEPHYR

case studies

Through fresh design thinking and robust best practice, we deliver work that engages. Always relevant and always human.


High profile report design for The World Bank

Brief: to create a concept for and to design a key World Bank report on African urbanisation to influence policy makers at city and national level.

Challenge: to create a World-class report with a strong central concept. To visually structure the contents with an effective summation of everything the report contains showing navigational devices that clearly signposted the bigger read.

Process: Design / Creative concept / Structure and navigation / Art direction / Production

Deliverables: Print / Interactive PDF

Africa has been urbanising rapidly with 450 million new urban dwellers expected in African cities by 2040.
— AFRICA’S CITIES: OPENING DOORS TO THE WORLD

We have worked with The World Bank before. To begin with in 2009 Zephyr designed and produced the World Development Report, working with the then Chief Economist Indermit Gill. We also designed the much lauded Golden Growth report series a few years later.

For our latest report for The World Bank we worked closely with lead economist Somik Lall, his editorial and communication teams. As our strength is to bring clarity to the complex, we had to make sure the core messages really cut through. 

Reports of this nature really benefit from a strong central concept – a central theme that runs across these messages – but as these types of report also develop over quite a long a period of time, our ideas also had to change and develop. Luckily we kicked off the creative process early and were able to meet at regular intervals with Somik to keep in touch with the direction of his work.

Our final developed concept focused on the 'door of trade' opening. Morning sun lights an African map made with connected vector points representing the report’s aspiration and advice: that a more connected Africa, with improved infrastructure can better support its rapidly growing urban population by becoming more competitive and looking outwards to access global markets.

The human element of this report was essential, showing it was about the impact on the next generation of the current cycle of low expectation. This provided a focus for our design, defining what we highlighted, the features we introduced and the overall style.

Central themes can be both implicit and explicit in the way they’re delivered but either way should be an effective summation of everything the report contains – the big take-out our clients want readers of the report to remember above all else.


The report, Africa’s Cities: Opening Doors to the World, notes that to grow economically as they are growing in size, Africa’s cities must open their doors and connect to the world. Africa’s urban population stands at 472 million people today. As cities grow in size, another 187 million people will be added to urban areas by 2025. In fact, Africa’s urban population will double over the next 25 years, reaching 1 billion people by 2040.

Matt Collins