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  • Writer's pictureJayne Whitton

A rebrand that tells hard truths to inspire change

When The Children’s Society decided to rebrand, I knew it had to be more than just a design project. We needed a driver of change to help more vulnerable young people.

Research suggested that investing in a powerful visual identity was crucial to having the greatest possible impact on the lives of this country’s most disadvantaged children. I wanted to have an identity which would support us to strongly communicate what we do and have more traction with supporters, commissioners, funders and other key audiences.

Our brand essence

As an organisation that campaigns as well as cares, I wanted a core statement that resonated across the whole organisation. The brand essence 'Hard Truths' provides the organisation with focus, both internally and externally through one simple unifying idea. We address the hard truths of young people living with poverty and neglect on the frontline, and tell policy makers the hard truths of their decisions on the lives of young people.

Our research process

First, we carried out extensive research involving our stakeholders, including supporters, funders, influencers, young people and staff, with face to face contact with over 600 stakeholders, plus the usual surveys and focus groups. But most importantly, as part of this extensive research programme, I held six all-day workshops on brand for young people which also gave them a ‘once in a lifetime experience’. For example, we held a workshop in a Ferrari showroom and explored brand through Enzo Ferrari’s story. This work proved critical to the development of the brand, with three out of four of our core values coming from young people.

Our vision and values

Our vision is a country where children are free from disadvantage. “Hard Truths” captures our existing strategic focus to fight childhood poverty and teenage neglect in a way we can now communicate to our key audiences. It crystallises the complex work of The Children’s Society.

As The Children's Society Chief Executive Matthew Reed says:

A brand is about more than a visual identity and a logo. It informs everything we do as an organisation: our vision, our mission and our values and behaviours. It reflects the history of our charity and will determine our future.

The heart of the brand is made up of four core values (brave, ambitious, supportive, trustworthy), and our mission is to fight for change, supporting disadvantaged children to have better lives.

To accompany our new visual identity, we focused on strong storytelling and using a stark, uncompromising black and white colour palette to show facts versus fiction or perception versus reality.

The results

We launched the brand externally in September 2014 and we’re already seeing an upward trend in brand awareness, shifting 16 places up the brand index by 2017. There has also seen positive increases in ROI where the brand is applied effectively. Staff engagement levels are high, with understanding and belief in our vision, mission, values and behaviours polling high at 95%+. And I have also had incredible feedback from new volunteers recruited after the public launch of the rebrand.

I was immediately struck by your core values: brave, supportive, trusted and ambitious… I went on to make contact with Mortimer House Children’s Centre to find out about volunteering roles, and registered as a volunteer.” Irfan, a money mentor in Bradford
The Children’s Society caught my eye. When I looked at the work you do and the impact you make I just thought it was right for me, because I am passionate about helping disadvantaged children and young people, and your values seemed best suited to me.” Zak, a corporate ambassador

The Children's Society still very much at the start of its brand journey and evolving as an organisation by asking ourselves the “Hard Truths”. But by putting our values at the heart of our work, we hope to inspire a shift in our marcomms approach which will have a demonstrable impact on the lives of the vulnerable young people we work with.

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