Case study: ABF The Soldiers' Charity

The charity formerly known as the Army Benevolent Fund rebranded earlier this year. What does our expert think?

Dozens of charities have 'benevolent' in their names, but last year the Army Benevolent Fund decided the word had to go.

The charity, which helps 4,000 soldiers a year, had used the name since it was founded in 1944. But when the organisation began a five-year review last year, research found that many soldiers and civilians didn't like the name and weren't certain what it meant.

The main problem was the word 'benevolent'. "It's quite an old- fashioned term that a lot of people didn't understand," says Emma Harvey, director of fundraising and communications at the charity. "If you asked an 18-year-old soldier what it meant, they probably wouldn't know."

The charity's dated name and image had been thrown into sharp relief by the rise of Help for Heroes, which also helps servicemen and women. So it decided to rebrand.

The charity invited six design agencies to pitch for the work, and in August it selected Dragon Rouge.

Much debate ensued about a new name. The fund had been describing itself as "the soldiers' charity" for a year, and it was eventually agreed to use this along with the abbreviation ABF. This provided a link with the past and gave the charity the option of eventually becoming either ABF or The Soldiers' Charity.

"A lot of our volunteers and supporters are older than 55 and we didn't want to alienate them," says Harvey. "If they hadn't had much to do with us recently, they might have thought we were a new charity."

The former logo - a reproduction of the army logo - was abandoned in favour of a plainer, clearer design featuring the charity's name.

Many soldiers, says Harvey, know their regiment's badge but not the army logo, and some of those who are familiar with it associate it with the government. "We wanted to make it clear we were an independent charity," she says.

The new logo retains the charity's core red colour. The less prominent green and blue are retained on merchandise and stationery only. The new identity was launched on 1 February. The process cost £20,000 and there has been a 150 per cent rise in the number of unique visitors to its website. "It should help us appeal to younger soldiers," says Harvey.

EXPERT VIEW - Dan Dufour, Consultant, The Team

Whether it's for a baby or a charity, choosing a name can be tricky. For charities with limited budgets, a clear name is always best. The Soldiers' Charity, with a firm focus on people, does the job well. I can understand why the charity wants to retain the ABF initials to help with the transition, but eventually they should go.

The new identity is well executed and modern, and there's a nod to the charity's heritage with its use of red. The portrait photography on the charity's website provides emotion and quality in equal measure, and the warm, friendly use of language and the true stories work extremely well.

Despite its warmth and personality, the new brand lacks a final clarifying punch. The "For soldiers, for life" strapline begins to hammer home the charity's proposition but, for me, it isn't used prominently enough and therefore gets lost.

SCORE
Creativity: 3
Delivery: 4
Total: 7 out of 10

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