Break the Barrier by Google

Improve cultural consciousness.


Google Search is a powerful tool designed to help users search more efficiently. We tend to go to Google when we have a question.

However, when it comes to questions about cultures, Google's search predictions reveal common stereotypes. Current political rhetoric in many countries dangerously paints groups of people with one brush. A lack of empathy often exists because of these biases.


Google can leverage its products to increase cultural empathy by providing access to authentic voices from around the world.

The problem is not the search engine itself. Many of us are not exposed to people from different cultures that can address these stereotypes, furthering our ignorance. If there's no one around to ask we search for answers online. 
It's more personal and effective when people address a bias– whether it's answering a question, having a conversation, or building a friendship.


Break the barrier. 

The idea is to drive awareness and spark conversations between people around world with an interactive campaign initiative and a product extension.

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Placed in high traffic areas in major cities around the world, the function is to display the most controversial questions populated by Google Autocomplete.

The participant is prompted to pick a question and record a video response.

A photostrip is then printed out to drive users to the campaign microsite or Google's Youtube page to view more video responses.

Social Media

A YouTube playlist will be created to archive video responses. This is an opportunity for YouTube influencers to be involved in content creation as well.

Users can browse the playlist and share across other social media channels using #BreakTheBarrier.


A centralized platform for the campaign initiative.

Microsite MockupMicrosite Mockup

Utilizing Google Hangouts, this campaign drives users to the site and encourages face to face conversations. Typically used for conference calls, this tool can be used as a means to have real time interactions around these questions and conversations. 


#BreakTheBarrier Box

This is another way to bring more attention to the campaign by sending personal and cultural gifts all over the world. 

The box is filled with an item of the participant's choosing along with a note. Then it is sent to someone in another country. This is an opportunity for people to share an item they hold dear to their culture. 

Box and InsertBox and Insert

Google PenPal App

It's more personal and effective when a friend is addressing a bias.

For the culturally curious, this app is designed to connect people around the world and establish friendships with individuals from a different background.

App Features

You select your country and a country you are interested in learning more about. 

Select up to six items that are interesting topics. 

Anonymously select a friend. This creates a genuine connection and desire to connect and learn from someone in a different region of the world. This quick pairing avoids that dating app feel where most users are selected by gender, age, and physical appearance. 

Once the penpals are connected, they are encouraged to start a conversation.

Chat Feature– utilize Google translate to communicate and avoid any language barrier. 

Menu and User Profile– share pictures, videos, and youtube links with friends to provide insight to your life and interests. 

Search friends based on name or country. Once a friend is selected, you can view the feed on their profile and hit the chat button to talk. 

Ideation, Wireframing, UX/UI Design, Visual Design, Prototyping, Presented at Google Creative Lab NYC

Sketch, Principle, Illustrator, Photoshop, Google Material Design

Keilani Mansfield (Experience Designer)
Yanci Wu (Experience Designer)
Limah Taeb (Experience Designer)

Student work at VCU Brandcenter.