Brand Report: Rethink Mental Illness

Mental health charity Rethink's rebrand spells out a clearer identity

Rethink Mental Illness
Rethink Mental Illness

It's fashionable for charities that rebrand to shorten their names, but Rethink went against the grain when it changed to Rethink Mental IllnessRethink Mental Illness in September.

The charity, which is the largest voluntary sector provider of mental health services in England, began life as the National Schizophrenia Fellowship in 1972 and rebranded as Rethink nine years ago.

Mark Davies, director of communications, says the problem with the old name was that people didn't know what they were being asked to rethink.

"The main issue for us was public recognition, which is a problem when you are trying to reach people with mental illness who need help," says Davies. "The name Rethink on its own did not achieve that. It was potentially meaningless, or it could represent any number of things."

The board agreed to rebrand in November 2010 in favour of a "more edgy and challenging brand", says Davies. Work on the new brand began in the new year.

Rethink employed a brand specialist called Sheila Duggan to develop concepts. Her first offering was the one the charity eventually accepted after it had been shown to staff and beneficiaries. The old Rethink name, written vertically in Helvetica type, was extended and enclosed in a circle. The cyan colour was retained but a new slogan, "changing attitudes, changing lives" was created.

"We didn't have a slogan," Davies says. "We sometimes used 'severe mental illness' after our name but research found 'severe' to be an unattractive word to the people we help. They did not want to be reminded of it."

Lengthening the name to include "Mental Illness" provides stark clarity about what the charity does, and including the full stop in the logo shows it is not only a name, but also an imperative, says Davies.

The brand is now a month old. "Inevitably we got some grumbles, but on the whole the response has been positive," says Davies. The exercise cost £10,000 for design and £80,000 for producing new materials.

Rethink, which employs 1,300 staff, got pledges of support for its new identity from its celebrity supporters Dame Judi Dench and Jo Brand. The brand will be advertised in the press and in GP surgeries.


Neil Smith, founding partner, Howdy

Neil Smith, founding partner, HowdyRethink appears to have taken the safe option by evolving its memorable, snappy name into something that says what it does on the tin. The new name lets you know exactly what field the charity works in. And to make sure we understand what Rethink does, a slogan and values statement have also been included as part of the rebrand. The designers' solution to this wordy problem is a well-crafted piece of typography contained in a bright cyan disc.

Although not exactly unique, the resulting logo is clean, bold and friendly, and has the added benefit of being easy to implement. This has the potential to be a powerful asset for Rethink across print, web and social media applications.

I wouldn't mind betting, though, that supporters and staff continue to refer to the charity as just 'Rethink'.


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

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