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  • Writer's pictureIan Morris

Managing a charity rebrand—the essential guide to success

Decoration of the title of the post

Deciding to spend hard-earned funds on rebranding can be a tough call to make for any charity, but it can make all the difference. If you’re considering a charity rebrand here’s our straight-talking, no-nonsense guide to getting it right.

A charity rebrand can be a daunting prospect

Deciding to rebrand a charity is a difficult decision and a daunting prospect because you want to put as much of your resources as possible towards the lives of the people who you raise money for. Spending time and money on the charity, rather than in the charity, can be seen as a waste by some who believe that all funds raised should go to frontline services. However, a professional image, modern brand, regular and professional marketing, and engaging fundraising are all must-haves in today’s world. Delaying a rebrand means that your brand becomes outdated, doesn’t portray what the charity now stands for, and doesn’t connect with your target audience—the people who will ultimately donate the much-needed funds. Like with any business, you have to invest both time and money for it to continue to be successful.

Rather than a difficult challenge, a charity rebrand should be seen as a chance to refresh and relaunch, go back out there, and get back in the public’s minds. It’s a great chance for rebirth and renewal that should be embraced. Sure, it takes some planning and careful deliberation, but the results are ultimately well worth it. A charity rebrand is a long-term investment—one that will generate more money for many years to come.

See how we helped Juno (former Women’s Aid Integrated Services) increase awareness and speak to their audience with a rebrand.

Charity rebrand stats

Charity brands that show passion and can communicate on a personal, emotive level have a better chance of success. Armed with a precise promise, articulating not just what they do, but why they do it, can turn an often apathetic public into passionate advocates.

Let’s look at a couple of examples…


Example of Macmillan rebrand

Board from Macmillan

Macmillan overhauled its brand in 2006. According to a report featured in Marketing Week, the charity recorded an increase in awareness to 65% in 2011 – up from 31% before the rebrand. Its fundraising income also increased by 33% over that same period, enabling it to help 65% more people suffering from cancer. This was all as a result of investing in its brand and marketing.

Blind Veterans UK

Blind Veterans UK, which rebranded from St Dunstan’s in 2012, saw a 38% increase in customer empathy—the likelihood that the public would consider supporting the charity since their rebrand was significantly higher. Response rates to their direct mail campaigns also went up by 31%.

Example of Blind Veterans UK rebrand

Blind Veterans UK brand in use

These statistics show the unquestionable power of branding in the sector. While charities quite rightly want to spend as much as possible on frontline causes, branding and marketing is a very worthwhile investment that is proven to work.

The Essential Guide to a Successful Charity Rebrand

Considering rebranding a charity or working with one who needs it? Here’s our straight-talking, no-nonsense guide to getting it right.

Spoiler alert! Getting it right involves lots of listening and plenty of patience.

Kid outdoors in the rain

Get good insights as early as possible

The first part of any charity rebrand should be dedicated to fact-finding and understanding. Access as much information as possible in the early stages, from existing user surveys to interviews with all key audiences. Take an objective viewpoint, as if you’ve never come into contact with the charity before. What are your first impressions? What comes across in the marketing? How far is this from the truth? Who does your brand speak to? What needs to be adapted or changed? Try crafting a survey to understand the essence of the organisation and its goals for the future.

Experience it first-hand

If you are enlisting the help of a branding agency or outside consultancy, ensure that they visit your operation and talk to your teams. This process can’t be done remotely, and it’s surprising how many fail to see this. Only by being there and seeing the charity first-hand can an outsider empathise and understand the true nature of the situation. For those inside the organisation, it can be hugely beneficial to tag along to sessions or outings to see what it’s like on the front line.

Have a clear mission, vision, and one-line proposition

Clarity can be lost over time as the charity grows and changes—and with different teams keen to get their viewpoints or aims across. While these can be important to consider, it can confuse your audience. Always aim for simplicity, providing a clear mission statement and vision so that both internal teams and external users can read it and make sense of it. Condense this into a one-line proposition that cuts through. Think—what value do you ultimately add by existing?

Choose a name that’s easy to say and remember

Names can be tricky. Some charities have names that were conceived many years ago when the organisation stood for something different. Others were decided by a committee where compromises were made, and this results in names that are complicated or don’t stand out as a result.

Looking for a new name is hard. There are so many registered charities that it’s very difficult to find something unique and with available domain names and social media handles. But it’s not impossible. Ensure you refer back to the aims, mission, vision, and values of the organisation. How can you bring them together to create a strong name that’s both memorable and represents what your charity fights for?

Create a logo and branding that lasts

A logo is a small thing that has a massive effect on the image of the organisation. An integral part of a charity rebrand, it should last at least 5 years—ideally much longer. It needs to fit the three golden rules of being authentic, distinctive, and memorable. When rebranding a charity, you don’t want to make mistakes that will incur further costs to correct. Take the time to get it right and enlist the help of experts if you can.

Ensure that communications are tailored to your audiences

Most charities have a range of diverse audiences to communicate with, from boards to frontline staff to users and donors. Each group has its own needs and priorities. Consider this when creating communications. Are you speaking their language? Are you telling them what they want to hear? What is of interest to them? Creating audience personas is a powerful yet simple way to cut through the noise.

Use templates to maintain consistent and professional marketing

One of the biggest challenges in charities is consistency, simply because you are marketing to such diverse audiences. It’s important to portray a professional image at all times—a rogue leaflet, website banner, or presentation can quickly undo all the hard work. Employ simple templates and enforce rules about how to use them. There are many marketing templates available at low to no cost (presentations, email marketing, design, etc.). Make the most of these and ensure that all staff know the importance of using them.

Keep fundraising messages simple, emotive, and positive

While the day-to-day activities of a charity can often cover some challenging topics, it’s good to temper this when fundraising. Again consider the audience, especially those who don’t already support you. To attract them, share positive stories about the great outcomes you’ve helped to make happen. This way, they’re more likely to build a positive emotional connection with you and want to find out how they can help. Praying on emotions is a powerful tool and embedded in human nature. Make sure you use this to build connections with donors.

Communicate in a way that your audiences want

Different audiences will want to hear about you in different ways , so make sure you cover all bases. Some will want headlines and key stats of your effectiveness, while others want to see videos of the people who make a difference and those you’ve helped. Some may want to read more detailed accounts of the scenarios and processes involved. Ensure you create a range of assets that your audiences can engage with as part of your rebrand.

Keep donors informed to build a long-term relationship

Highly engaged donors spend more than those who are more apathetic about your cause. Staying in touch with updates, case studies, and announcements is an easy way to keep your current donors engaged and build ongoing rapport. It’s easy to keep pushing for new donors and sponsors while forgetting those who are already supporting you, but acquiring new donors is much harder than keeping those you already have. Keep them informed and make them feel valued—show them how their support is invaluable to you to keep them on board.

Awarded “The Midland’s Most Innovative Agency” by SME magazine, Threerooms senior team of designers and brand experts have specific charity rebrand expertise for new and established charities. We work out a plan that achieves your goals, meets your budgets and delivers meaningful results. Here’s how we can help:

  1. Develop a unique proposition, values, and visions

  2. Assist with name changes—how to get it right

  3. Discover insights that lead to better results

  4. Design a modern and professional logo and identity

  5. Develop key messages built around your audiences

  6. Create fundraising marketing that gets noticed

  7. Help launch your new brand to staff and the public

  8. Offer website design and digital solutions

  9. Build engaging animations and videos to clearly explain the offer

  10. Provide ongoing support and advice

“Ian has really shown an interest in our cause, and in fact, how he spoke about some of the problems we encounter in promoting a sombre subject and hard-to-fundraise-for topic made us select Threerooms over two other agencies. He just seemed to get it…the idea that we should be proud of our roots.”

We’re proud to have worked with amazing charities

Charities we work for: Transaid, Treetops Hospice Care, Juno, Boccia England, Music Hub, Nottingham Rainbow Project and YMCA

Thinking of rebranding your organisation? Get in touch and see how we can work together.

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