Age-positive icons competition launched
We've launched a competition to design ‘age-positive’ icons to replace the negative symbols that commonly represent people in later life, such as ‘hunched-over stickmen’.
The winner will subsequently be awarded a contract to design a series of alternative icons representing ageing and older people.
The Centre for Ageing Better – supported by Public Health England (PHE) – is launching a free online competition to rethink the symbols and icons commonly used in public to represent ageing and older age groups.
Ageing Better hopes to use new icons to challenge stereotypes and imagery associated with old age – in particular, the familiar illustrations of walking sticks and hunched backs. Research has shown that stereotypes can become self-fulfilling prophecies, as they can affect how older people view themselves, their own capabilities and the kinds of activities they engage with.
The panel want designers to submit their designs for ‘age-positive’ icons that avoid harmful stereotypes. Like all icons, the designs need to be simple and instantly recognisable – and appropriate for use in reports, presentations, infographics and other related outputs as a way of visually denoting ‘ageing’ or ‘older people’, in the same way a piggy bank is synonymous with moneysaving, for example.
The purpose of the competition is to offer alternatives to the limited choice of icons currently available, and so the winning icon isn’t just for use by Ageing Better and partners but will also be made publicly available for unlimited use by others.
Following the shortlisting stage, decided by a panel of experts, the winner of the competition will subsequently be awarded a contract. The winning entrant will work with Ageing Better to expand their design into a wider set of icons and illustrations.
Alison Giles, Joint Associate Director for Healthy Ageing, Centre for Ageing Better said:
“Harmful stereotypes of older people being depicted as vulnerable and frail are rife in society. We need to move away from these negative images, such as the ubiquitous hunched-over stickman, and challenge these ideas and misconceptions about ageing.
“This competition is one of the ways we are trying to do that and we hope will help to get more age-positive imagery into public use.
“The innovative new icons generated by this competition could be a crucial step towards re-shaping the way we think and talk about later life.”
Guidance for submission
- Avoid stereotypes and offensive imagery and try to be creative in what you think could represent ageing. Beyond walking sticks, research suggests that even ‘positive’ stereotypes (e.g. mobility aids, sheltered housing) tend to still operate within a negative association of old age with decline and ill-health.
- Entrants are encouraged to involve older people in the design process to ensure there is a right level of representation.
- Read the Healthy ageing consensus statement for inspiration and a better understanding of themes related to healthy ageing.
- A short description (max. 200 words) needs to be provided with your design submission – this could explain how you produced it or an explanation of why you think the design works. But remember that icons don’t usually appear with words, so make sure your design is self-explanatory.
- The icon should be delivered as a high-resolution PNG or JPEG. For guidance around icons and templates, find out more.
Terms and conditions
- Initial entrants will retain all intellectual property rights and the designs won’t be used by Ageing Better or its partners in any outputs without prior permission. If granted permission by entrants, we may wish to share entrants’ designs in Ageing Better’s marketing materials.
- The winner of the competition will be awarded a contract valued at £9,000 to work with Ageing Better (supported by PHE) to co-design a wider set of icons and illustrations, informed by the opinions of people in later life. The project is expected to be complete by end of 2020.
- The winning entrant must subsequently grant their designs into the public domain for use by any third party without payment or attribution.
- All data captured (i.e. your contact details) will be stored for up to a year and be in compliance with GDPR. We will only contact you in relation to the competition.
- While we encourage entry from anyone, the winning entrant must be an eligible commercial entity, i.e. registered with a company or be self-employed. This is so that a contract can be agreed and we can set up payments should you win the contract.
- We unfortunately cannot guarantee feedback due to the expected volume of entrants – we will, however, let all entrants know of their status around October 2020.
- There is no limit on the number of entries from entrants but please submit only one design per entry.
Please note that the competition has now closed for entries. Find out more about the suite of icons available free for public use.