Case study: Restless Development

The charity hired creative consultancy Figtree to help change its name from Students Partnership Worldwide. We look at how the process worked and Chris Arnold provides an expert assessment

Restless Development
Restless Development

For some charities, the decision to rebrand is a difficult one. But for Restless Development, a development agency led by young people, it was relatively easy.

The charity, previously Students Partnership Worldwide, had changed so much over the years that its old identity had become obsolete.

Founded in 1985 by the then deputy head of Westminster School, the charity initially sent gap-year students to India and Zimbabwe to teach. However, the focus of its work has broadened to encompass a wide range of issues affecting young people, such as HIV, sanitation and education. So there was widespread support for a change of name.

"We wanted to capture what we are about now," says Nik Hartley, deputy chief executive. "The old name, look and feel didn't reflect this."

The charity, which has 200 staff and 1,000 volunteers in nine international offices, agreed to rebrand at a directors' conference in 2007. It then approached staff, volunteers and stakeholders and partners for ideas.

"We soon realised we didn't have the expertise," says Hartley. "We thought we could probably come up with a name, but creating a whole new look and branding is about much more than changing your name."

The charity appointed the creative consultancy Figtree to handle the process, which lasted more than a year, and set up a committee to monitor progress. The name was agreed quickly. "It's exciting, radical and edgy, and it encompasses professional development," Hartley says. A strapline was added to clarify the agency's purpose.

Choosing colours was a challenging aspects. Hartley says other development organisations had cornered the market in blue, environmental charities widely used green and HIV organisations tended to go for red.

Figtree suggested black and white - not an obvious choice for any charity, particularly one with an average staff age of 25. "Lots of people said 'oh, my god' when they heard we had gone for black and white, but when they see it they think it is cool and different," says Hartley.

The brand was launched on 5 July. Most work was conducted pro bono, so Hartley estimates the cost of the process to be £10,000, which was spent mainly on printing. He says it would have cost nearly £100,000 had it paid commercial rates.

What did he learn from the process? "I am cynical about marketing gurus, but they're essential," he says. "You go into the process knowing it will take blood and toil from everyone from the most senior to junior members of staff."


Chris Arnold, Creative director, Creative Orchestra

There is always a temptation when targeting youth with a new look to resort to punk-like graphics and garish colours. Thankfully, the designer has avoided both of these. The look and feel is bold, simple and unique.

Rather than just looking trendy, it has obviously been designed to stand the test of time for years to come.

I like the way they have used the blocks of black with white type and used angles on the layouts, especially angled picture crops. It adds a dynamic energy to the look.

The page designs have a newsy quality about them, making them very readable. Given that Restless Development, a far better and more memorable name than SPW, is a global charity, the design elements seem very practical as they can be reproduced almost anywhere in the world.

It is a good example to other charities of how to look modern and clean.


Creativity: 4
Delivery: 4
8 out of 10

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