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No-one's shouting about Cancer Research UK's new brand

No-one's shouting about Cancer Research UK's new brand

Yes this is a blog about Cancer Research UK’s re-… but it’s not a typical analysis.  Others have done this already and there’s not much I can add to what’s already been shared (a quick Google search will show you what I mean).

Instead I want to focus on the absence of outrage which I find hugely interesting.  Previous high profile charity rebranding exercises have come under criticism from the sector and donors alike as being at best a vanity exercise and at worst a waste of donors’ funds.  Think Parkinsons UK or Age UK! But of all the articles I’ve seen and social media comments I’ve read, I haven’t detected any vitriol at all.  Yes, over £600,000 is a lot of money to invest on a rebrand but as the charity states on its own website;

“The cost of this work will be more than outweighed by the added income and support we will create by building a stronger brand which is distinct, stands out, and is more engaging. During this financial year 12/13 we expect to spend £687,000 on refreshing our brand. This cost is less than 0.2% of our annual income budgeted for this period. And over 5 years, we expect this to equate to 0.03% of our projected income. This gives us a lot of confidence that the benefits of undertaking this change will easily outweigh the upfront investment.”

And here, I think is the start of a theory as to why donors, volunteers and the media aren’t all lambasting Cancer Research UK – it’s about context and rationale and how both of these are shared with the various stakeholder audiences. The charity explains in open and honest terms across its own communications and via media releases the key rationale:

  • Research showed them that people don’t like the current brand
  • It didn’t reflect (and therefore support) what they want to be doing moving forwards ie; growing the fundraising effort to support direct research into cancer treatments and cures
  • It wasn’t bold or brave enough to back up the claims that the charity is at the vanguard of the fight against cancer
  • It didn’t stand out sufficiently so that people who need the charity’s help always noticed it.

So it wasn’t about whether the marketing department liked it or not.  Developing the new brand was all about meeting the key objectives of the organisation itself as well as reflecting the views of the audiences they need to appeal to and serve – gold star time. (there’s more rationale on the CRUK site and Design Week’s pages)

There are direct fundraisers out there who I know will be spitting feathers at this investment not being made in direct marketing and cash generation campaigns.  But the electricity bill doesn’t add to this month’s income line either yet we still pay that as it’s a core enabler of everything else that goes on the building.

And that, in essence is what a strong brand does.  It enables everything else to be easier, better, more impactful and more accessible.  And that’s how Cancer Research UK have chosen to proactively portray their rebrand, and, in a relevant context that their stakeholder audiences can understand and hopefully get behind. There’s no magic bullet but investing 0.2% of your income to ensure that everything else you do can be done better seems like a sensible investment to me.  Of course, now they have to succeed but credit where it’s due so far.

Kevin is the founder of Bottom Line Ideas and has a deep-rooted passion for ideas that actually work in the real world. Those ideas help charities of all shapes and sizes to get their stories and messages to the audiences they need to hear them. And then persuade them to act!

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