Brand Report: Step Change Debt Charity

The Consumer Credit Counselling Service rebranded to emphasise that it was a charity

Step Change Debt Charity's new branding
Step Change Debt Charity's new branding

The Consumer Credit Counselling Service, the national debt advice charity, decided to carry out a rebrand to make clearer to the public the services it offers.

It was renamed the Step Change Debt Charity last month after a year-long strategic review, prompted by the changing nature of the UK debt market.

"The charity was set up in 1993 and the name CCCS was an American concept," says the charity's marketing director, Anne Somers. "We were the first organisation to set up a debt management plan in the UK, but since then we've seen a number of fee-charging companies set up their own equivalents. Pay-day lenders are also emerging now, so the debt landscape has been changing."

The charity found that consumers were unsure of what it actually did. "We wanted to be more visible and vocal, and to reach out to as many people as we could," says Somers. "We felt that the name CCCS didn't hack it. We had to have a name that said on the tin what it did."

The charity tried out hundreds of variations and tested the final name on its existing clients and some of its most valued partners: the creditors.

It finally settled on the name the Step Change Debt Charity for a number of reasons, says Somers: "We decided to put 'debt' in the name because that's what we are dealing with.

"As a result, clients have a clearer idea of what we do: from that first call to us from them, we can hear the weight being lifted off their shoulders. We are their first step to getting their lives back."

Somers says that some of the charity's clients are concerned about being ripped off by fee-charging companies that offer the same services as the charity. In order to get across the point that it is not making a profit, the organisation added the word 'charity' to the name.

To promote the new branding, the charity used a promotional wraparound for an issue of the Financial Times, while press adverts appeared in national newspapers. A TV campaign will be launched this month.

Already, calls to the charity have risen by 16 per cent, and its volume of activity is higher than it was two years ago, when the debt market was busier.

EXPERT VIEW: Emma Nicol, director, Door 22 Creative

Emma Nicol, director, Door 22 CreativeThis rebrand was all about the name change. This in itself is the success. The intention was to say what it does on the tin - and it certainly achieves that. The name change and visual are a vast leap forward from its predecessor and a complete transformation for the organisation. However, the branding and visual language are safe, rather than contemporary or innovative.

The question is whether it is too safe or if the intention is to appear familiar. The identity's design adopts many of the classic, albeit dated traits of charity branding. It therefore feels recognisable and actually reinforces the friendly, personable aim of the brand.

Given the need for the charity to set itself apart from the negative face of fee-charging debt management companies, perhaps this familiarity and honesty is the underlying logic.

Creativity: 2
Delivery: 4
Total: 6 out of 10

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