Practical Guidelines for Visual Communication
Case Study: SDC



The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is a major player in the fields of international development cooperation and humanitarian aid. The SDC recognises the crucial role of visual communication in this context. To maintain its exemplary status in fair and safe visual communication, the organisation aims to prioritise ethical, legal, and safety aspects - with respect to the people depicted, the photographers as well as the SDC itself.

The SDC required a theoretical framework to guide their practices as well as clear and practical guidelines accessible to different individuals within the organisation. It has commissioned Fairpicture to develop these guidelines and ensure their integration within the organisation. Fairpicture conducted workshops involving various stakeholders to facilitate this process and developed a working document that reflects the SDC’s principles and aims.




Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)


Conceptualisation and implementation of Guidelines for Visual Communication


January - December 2022



The SDC operates in various regions around the world. Guidelines for visual communication need to consider who tells the stories related to the SDC’s work and what is included in them. Therefore, Fairpicture collaborated with local field offices and involved individuals from different areas of the organisation, ranging from security advisors to communications personnel. This inclusive approach allows the team to endorse and align with the guidelines, ensuring that they become an ongoing and evolving process within an organisation with a global outreach.

Furthermore, the new data protection law coming into effect in Switzerland in September 2023 will bring many changes for visual communication. We have a legal obligation to adjust certain practices, such as obtaining consent for sensitive personal data, which is now mandatory in Switzerland as well. At the same time data protection as a catalyst for human rights aligns well with the human rights-based approach pursued by the SDC. Together, we have developed both, contents and a technical framework that opens up new communication perspectives.


The SDC uses images and videos across various channels and media, including the annual report of 2022. One of the challenges in the assignment with Fairpicture was to provide practical guidelines for different image uses.


Workshops tailored to different target audiences allow us to facilitate the integration of the guidelines within the organisation. 


Developing guidelines for the SDC took place in a complex environment. Their goal to support the organisation in using imagery in ways that meets the requirements of the SDC, its partners, its beneficiaries, visual creators, and the public. One challenge was to involve people from different work areas and address their various needs, ensuring that the guidelines are practical for everyone. Based on extensive discussions, Fairpicture created comprehensive guidelines with background knowledge and concise checklists for different steps in visual content production.

Practical knowledge derived from the guidelines is shared with participants in thematic workshops. This format helps to actively involve participants and enables them to learn and apply the guidelines effectively. Through interactive sessions, discussions, and practical exercises, participants gain a hands-on understanding of how to utilise imagery in line with the guidelines.


An dieser Stelle wäre ein Zitat von Susanna toll!

Susanna Graf
Communications Lead | SDC



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