At LETO, we don’t just “problem solve” – we want to help companies make an impact. This led to us developing, a new initiative pioneered by Unilever that provides support to women who suffered from domestic violence – the platform we created helps to empower women and most importantly helps to prevent home abuse. It has been initially launched in India, which is sadly one of the countries with the highest rate of domestic violence.


Some years ago, Esther Marshall, a graduate trainee at Unilever, was abused by a violent boyfriend. After they separated, she wrote down her feelings in a private diary. This helped her understand what she was most passionate about – safety and equality for women and girls. She then realised that – as therapeutic as this process was for her – she also wanted to help other women who had gone through a similar experience. StandTall was born.


Esther’s vision was twofold. Firstly, would be an anonymous platform for victims of abuse to share their experiences, or those who have witnessed loved ones being abused. Secondly, it would be a portal, connecting women with charities and NGOs in their area that would offer them much-needed protection and advice.

As noble as this purpose was, Esther was faced with a simple reality: it would take a huge amount of work to get it off the ground. When she was on the brink of resigning from her job, to devote herself to her vision, a colleague suggested she speak to the CEO of Unilever, Paul Polman. She thought she might get ten minutes, but ended up speaking with him for over an hour. ‘We’ll back it,’ he said. Esther been recommended LETO, so she contacted us, briefed, and we set to work.


There were three challenges.

From the start, we knew the timelines would be strict. We began work on the 6th October and Esther was scheduled to introduce the site at the prestigious One Young World conference, in Bangkok, on the 18th November: it couldn’t be late.

Secondly, there was a technical dilemma: at least 70% of Indian internet usage is via mobile. However, many Indians use feature phones, so a number of well-established cornerstones of web design – such as CSS or JavaScript – simply wouldn’t work on their devices. The platform, then, had to be uncomplicated: pictures were kept to a minimum, while the site was as static as possible. This simplicity extended to every part of the site: instead of showing the whereabouts of organisations on Google Maps, for example, we just used an address field.

Thirdly, we had to empathise: an abused woman would be logging her thoughts and experiences in an obvious state of distress. She might be in hiding or in constant fear of attack. Because of this we had to develop a user experience that was welcoming, non-judgmental, and fully understanding of the horror of domestic violence. Above all, it had to stress that all testimonials would be anonymous.


Tailoring the site to mobile first was a priority. Our designers started to block it out in Sketch, while at the same time exploring how the site might be displayed on a desktop: it was very likely that the charities/NGOs who wanted to be a part of the project would use it in their offices, rather than on the move.


A moodboard to help us understand the mood we wanted for the branding


Some sketches for the StandTall logo


The final StandTall logo

We also guided Esther through the project, working closely with her to realise her dream. This was however our typical process: the client will often arrive with a rough idea of what they want. We then gently question them, finding out exactly what they need, before formulating a step-by-step plan.


As with any startup – this project has been built from scratch; so within the given timeline we created its branding and the designs, developed and launched the platform.


A quick wireframe to design a responsive approach to the homepage

The final visuals applied to the homepage

The site was ready a week before the event and we tested it on various devices (feature phones, smartphones, desktop, etc.) to ensure we were ready for the 18th November. It fulfilled Unilever’s corporate social responsibility remit; but most importantly it answered Esther’s dual goals of a forum to document abuse, share victim stories and tips, and a platform to discover and contact relevant NGOs/charities. Esther successfully introduced the project at the One Young World conference and the site was publically launched on 18th November 2015.


StandTall links into Unilever’s corporate social responsibility programmes. These are focussed at helping to improve women’s safety and standard of living: was only one of them. There is a massive need for this work, given the startling inequality between genders: globally, women do 66% of the work, but earn only 10% of the income. Shockingly, they own only 1% of the world’s property. Now more than ever, there is an urgent need for programmes that promote women’s rights and social justice.

It’s early days, but StandTall is nothing if not ambitious: their aim is to raise £250,000 to ‘build centres that provide holistic restorative care to victims of abuse, to ensure they achieve their full potential.’ Given the fierce determination of their founder, and the support of Unilever, they can expect every success.

“I spoke yesterday and it was an amazing experience. There was a standing ovation at the end and social media went crazy afterwards. Once again, thank you so much. We have been plugging LETO as well as we couldn't have done this without you.”

by Esther Marshall, Project Lead, Unilever

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