Case study: Age UK

A new logo has given the UK's largest charity for older people a new lease of life

Age UK
Age UK

The merger of Help the Aged and Age Concern created the UK's largest charity for older people, with a first-year income of £160m.

From a branding point of view, the new organisation had to decide whether to combine elements of the old charities' names and looks into its new identity, or scrap them altogether and create something fresh.

During its first year, it was known as "the charity formed by the merger of Age Concern and Help the Aged" but in spring this year its new identity was unveiled.

The brand consultancy Corporate Edge was hired to kickstart the rebranding process, which involved focus groups, surveys with older people and staff workshops.

Perhaps the most crucial decision was the name. Age UK was settled upon, with the name appearing in lower case on the logo.

"All the best brands have a degree of clarity and simplicity," says Duncan Lewis, the group marketing and development director at Age UK.

The logo features what the charity describes as a "life loop" that is "positive, fresh and unlimited". It symbolises a circle of life as well as the continuous support the charity provides. Lewis likens this idea to the Nike logo - an abstract form that people associate with the organisation.

The loop uses several strong colours. "If we had tried to introduce those colours in the name it would have looked very odd," Lewis says.

Colour is perhaps the most striking aspect of the new identity. Age UK wanted something bright - not only for visual purposes, but also to make a statement about the positive way it regards older people.

"There was a definite desire for a vibrant identity that would stand out visually and would indicate that we as an organisation want to celebrate later life," Lewis says.

The words "Age Concern" and "Help the Aged" are at present still used in the strapline for website searches, but this will eventually be replaced by "Improving later life".

Lewis says feedback about the new brand has been overwhelmingly positive. He says surveys indicate 50 per cent of people were aware of the name shortly after the relaunch, although he admits: "Brand awareness still has a way to go."


EXPERT VIEW - Max du Bois, Executive director, Spencer du Bois

I really wanted to like the new logo. I wanted it to create an impact, carving out a territory that would help realise the new charity's ambitious goal to "improve later life for everyone".

Like the curate's egg, I think it's good in parts. It was born of two very striking organisations with powerfully descriptive names. 'Age' almost says what it does, but it vitally misses the emotional strength and attitude that 'Help the' and 'Concern' had.

The friendly feel of the logo is good. And the icon is bright, energetic and distinctive - but is it relevant? Many corporate icons are indeed similar - Nike, BT, HSBC - but it takes time and lots of advertising money to endow them with any meaning. And that's the issue.

This would all be fine, if it wasn't for the fact that the supporting visuals seem limited and risk running out of steam. Bright but bland.


Creativity: 2.5

Delivery: 2.5

Total: 5 out of 10.

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