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Why rebranding isn’t about eye candy

By Sue Wixley 18 October 2012 2 minute read

In case you’ve missed it, NPC rebranded this week. We have a new logo, a new strapline and a sparkling new website and URL. We launched the new face of NPC a few days ago at the impact conference we put on with Third Sector and with our ground-breaking Making an impact report.

This was a good week for rebranding as it turns out. Oxfam, Cancer Research UK and the Disasters Emergency Committee also unveiled their new brands in the last few days.

Cue a great debate about whether rebranding is a waste of charitable funds. Beth Breeze summed up the arguments well (and the contradictions) when she said that, while donors wish it was easier to distinguish between different organisations, they also don’t want charities to spend money on building their identities.
To my mind, these arguments stem from the idea that rebranding is essentially a frivolous exercise. There is a sense, in some quarters, that rebranding is all about mood boards, colours swatches and whimsical attachments to obscure typefaces—and nothing about the actual activities of a charity.

If NPC’s experience is anything to go by, these ideas are misplaced.

Choosing our new visual identity and thinking through how we describe ourselves involved lots of creative thinking and imagination, but it was also  grounded in strategy and analysis. Indeed, the driver for our rebranding was the need to better reflect our current activities and new strategy in all of our materials, including our website.The process mainly involved conversations and workshops, hard graft and head scratching about how best to communicate the organisation that NPC has evolved into.

Our advisors (a boutique outfit called MakeUP) kept bringing us back to these questions:

  • What makes you unique?
  • What do we want to communicate about your organisation?
  • What do we want to be known for?

This analytical approach helped us make decisions. Instead of getting caught up in debates about which shades of purple or pink to choose, we tried to stay focussed on what we want to convey about who NPC is and what we do.  It also helped us decide who needed to be involved in the project at which stage, whether NPC clients or supports, the senior management team or trustee board.

It’s a shame it sometimes gets a bad name in the charity world because, when done right, rebranding can make all the difference.