Communications: Rebrand doubles donors for charity

The rebranding of the Royal United Kingdom Beneficent Association (Rukba) as IndependentAge a year ago has been an "unqualified success", according to Jonathan Powell, chief executive of the charity.

Powell says the number of new people helped by the organisation in 2005 rose by 50 per cent compared with 2004, and the number of active donors almost doubled during the year, from 30,000 to 52,000.

Powell says he realised within six months of joining Rukba in 2000 that the charity, which gives small grants to elderly people to help them live independently, should change its name. Research showed there was only 1 per cent awareness of the existing brand, and the charity found itself in the rare position of having too much money and not enough beneficiaries.

But there was no quick fix. Powell spent the best part of the next three years persuading various stakeholders that a name change was desirable.

This involved consulting every staff member, all 1,100 volunteer visitors, trustees and subcommittee members, 125 members and a sample of donors.

Consensus was reached through a compromise: the brand would change but not the name. Hence, the Royal UK Beneficent Association remains the charity's registered name and still appears on its letterheads - but much less prominently than the IndependentAge logo.

Once agreement was achieved, staff were invited to brainstorm ideas for a new name, and IndependentAge emerged as the victor. When it was tested against the old name in street vox pops, there was as much recognition of the then non-existent IndependentAge as there was of Rukba.

Once the decision was made, a designer was hired to create a new logo, and new signs and stationery were ordered once existing stocks had run out. The whole exercise cost less than £20,000, Powell says.

The brand was launched last February with an advertising campaign on Classic FM. The number of enquiries to the charity rose at least four-fold while the campaign was on and, during the whole of 2005, 900 new beneficiaries accessed the charity's services, up from 600 the year before.

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