Editorial: Does brand new need to mean expensive?

Tania Mason, deputy editor

So Help the Aged is ditching its cheery blue and yellow 'setting sun' logo in favour of a new black and yellow strip logo bearing the curious strapline "Help the Aged. We Will". Apparently, market research showed that plenty of people had heard of the charity, but many were unclear as to its purpose. The brand overhaul, we are told, will convey Help the Aged's new focus on disadvantaged older people rather than just old people in general. Fine - but "We will"? We will what? We will help the aged?

Oh. And there I was thinking that's what it did all along.

I don't mean to be facetious, but it's hard not to be when you consider that this spark of brilliance cost the charity £140,000. Of course, the marketing industry would huff and puff and say there's a lot more to it than merely drawing a new picture and dreaming up a new slogan. But come on - £140,000 to tell the world "it will" help the aged? Surely this charity's brand already did what it said on the tin.

Two more charities announced a brand makeover this week. First up, Defeating Deafness has been renamed Deafness Research UK. Because research into the causes and treatments of deafness is on the brink of some "momentous breakthroughs" - there might even be a cure within 15 years - the charity wanted its brand to better reflect its national status and unique research role. How much did the charity pay design agency Spencer du Bois to create its new look? Just over £10,000.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Councils for Voluntary Service (NACVS) has decided that as only 40 per cent of its members now have the suffix CVS in their name, it will be more representative if it is called NAVCA - the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action. Visually, all that will change are the letters - its round logo stays. And the cost?

Zilch. The rebrand was devised in-house and won't take effect until 1 April next year, giving the organisation plenty of time to use up its existing stationery.

In this age of bulging corporate profits, costly brand relaunches no longer raise eyebrows in the private sector. But charities must remain ultra-vigilant on this issue. Given that its annual turnover is £70m, Help the Aged might defend its outlay as reasonable. But it might have an uphill battle persuading supporters of that - because to a £2-a-month donor, there's a good chance that £140,000 still sounds like an awful lot of money.

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