Dan Dufour: Forget the brand police - we need the paramedics

Managing a charity rebrand is not for the faint-hearted, says the associate director - brand at the Good Agency

Dan Dufour
Dan Dufour

After completing some brave and exciting brand developments, I'm reminded of the recent examples that will, sadly, leave the world feeling flat or go unnoticed because they lack creativity. Charities worry about being seen to invest in branding during tough economic times, but making only limited change is sometimes not worth the time, effort and money.

Managing a charity rebrand is not for the faint-hearted. The stakeholder management required to get to a satisfying creative result can be mammoth. There are the opinions of people at the top to navigate – trustees, directors, the chief executive or deputy, some of whom might consider themselves experts, or have a personal preference or agenda. Then there are the views of supporters, staff and volunteers. How you conduct, interpret and present research to these groups is critical if you are to avoid the dreaded design by committee.

Take inspiration from Parkinson's UK. The chief executive, Steve Ford, followed his instincts when it rebranded in 2010, opting for a design that was most popular among younger audiences, rather than existing supporters. But it was the right decision: the brand won a design effectiveness award. Brand and creative strategists need to be brave enough to stand by their recommendations, and clients need to be brave enough to listen to their professional expertise. Avoid vanilla.

How many great charity rebrand designs are sitting on servers, never to see the light of day? The Brands That Got Away would make a great exhibition, and perhaps we should hold a brand amnesty. But in the meantime, let's all fight for the creativity we believe in.

Dan Dufour is associate director - brand at the Good Agency

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