Case Study: Changing the image of child protection work

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, says the charity rebranded because it needed a more positive feel

The NSPCC has updated its slogan and logo
The NSPCC has updated its slogan and logo

When Peter Wanless announced last year that he was leaving the Big Lottery Fund to join the NSPCC, some people questioned his decision on the grounds that it must be soul-destroying to spend your life combating child abuse.

But Wanless, who became the charity's chief executive in June 2013, is upbeat about the move. "Because of the services we provide and the difference that can be made to the lives of children by campaigning, we're doing a positive thing," he says.

The desire to communicate this difference prompted the NSPCC to rebrand in September. Having previously focused on getting the issue of child abuse into the national consciousness, the charity wanted to step back from talking so much about the problem and concentrate more on the preventive services and campaigns it has worked on since Wanless joined.

This meant changing the slogan the charity has had since 1999 – "Cruelty to Children Must Stop FULL STOP" – to "Every childhood is worth fighting for".

Wanless says: "The Full Stop slogan was very powerful: it articulated the problem and explained the nature of the determination that we have to put an end to child cruelty. But it doesn't do credit to some of the more preventive services we are increasingly responsible for delivering."

Wanless says the change was also motivated in part by an increasing sense that long-term supporters of the charity were becoming disillusioned about donating to help tackle issues that did not appear to have improved over the decades. Responding to this issue in order to retain and attract donors is an important task for the NSPCC: the charity's income has fallen annually over the past five years, from £155m in 2009 to £129m in 2013.

Each word of the new slogan was researched carefully, says the charity; "childhood" was chosen because of its positive associations and because it is something everyone can relate to. There was some debate about the word "fight" – if the charity exists to protect children, should it be fighting? But this was settled when one employee remembered that the NSPCC's founder, the Reverend Benjamin Waugh, had expressed a similar fighting sentiment in a speech when he established the charity in 1884.

"The NSPCC is not just another children's charity," he said. "It is an organisation that will fight to obtain the citizenship of every child and justice for all children."

If we hadn't made this change, I think there was a risk that we would have been feeding fatalism

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC

The charity's logo has also been changed, albeit unremarkably. It has retained the NSPCC initials and the signature green colour, and the letters remain capitalised, which the charity says emphasises the brand's authority and trustworthiness; but the letter forms are softer than the previous iteration, and the NSPCC hopes this will show that it is supportive, open and approachable.

There was little question that the charity's name would remain – Wanless says he considers the public's familiarity with it to be precious; but the charity will be using photography and illustrations to convey its new personality. Photographs will be made to appear as natural as possible, in both setting and lighting, to demonstrate that the children and families the charity helps are real; many will feature crayon drawings in order to show the playful side of the new NSPCC and illustrate the vivid imaginations of the children it works with.

The rebrand cost £150,000 and was carried out by the NSPCC's internal brand marketing and creative teams, with pro bono support from agency partners. The charity says: "The rebrand isn't just about changing the logo. Once it is rolled out, you'll see a new look for all our materials and campaigns. Most of the money was spent on audience research and testing."

Despite the cost, Wanless is convinced the move was necessary. "If we hadn't made this change, I think there was a risk that we would have been feeding fatalism, which some people might be feeling after scandals such as the Rotherham case," he says. "People might think they should give up or, instead of giving money to us, give it to finding a cure for cancer or something else."

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