PDSA overhauls its logo and website in rebrand

The veterinary charity spends £221,000 of its reserves on the rebrand after market research showed that not enough people knew about its work


The veterinary charity PDSA has rebranded, overhauling its logo and website in a bid to appeal to a wider audience.

The rebrand was prompted after the charity conducted market research with more than 2,000 people, including new and existing supporters, clients and the general public, which showed that that not enough people knew about the PDSA’s work, few properly understood its scale and impact on improving animal welfare in spite of the charity’s 97-year history, and that its supporter base needed broadening.

PDSA spent £221,000 from its reserves on the rebrand, through which it will retain its full name, the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals.

The charity, which provides free veterinary care for the pets of people in need, worked on the rebrand with the marketing agency The Gate.

"We have a massive impact on pet wellbeing and receive huge affection from those who know us and our work, but this is not reflected in the broader public awareness and perception," said Maria Heckel, director of marketing at the charity.

"Failure to address these issues will affect our ability to engage with new supporters and raise the vital income we need to deliver our much-needed veterinary care."

The charity’s strapline is changing from "For pets in need of vets" to "Help a vet help a pet", and its blue logo is being replaced by a green and pink one depicting a paw cradled in a human hand.

The charity said this represented the partnership between owner and pet as well as the helping hand that its veterinary teams provided.

All 51 PDSA pet hospitals and 170 shops will begin using the new visual identity by 1 January.

The charity’s income in 2013 was £96.6m – of which £64.4m came from voluntary sources – and it spent £97.2m. The charity said that it needed to raise more than £60m from donations every year, but it had struggled to achieve this in the last few years.

The PDSA rose from 27th to 22nd place in Third Sector’s Charity Brand Index this year, but a Brand Watch article produced for Third Sector by YouGov in June said that the charity did not seem to directly use its media activity to drive donations, instead using direct marketing for this purpose. The charity said the article strengthened its case for rebranding.

Heckel said the reaction to the rebrand had been very positive from staff and volunteers, as well as from PDSA users and members of the public. "They think it represents the charity in a modern and appealing way, helps us stand out from the crowd and tells people what we do and how they can help," she said.

She said that the rebrand had been cost-effective because the charity’s shop fronts and hospital signs had not been refreshed in more than 15 years, and expenditure on replacements was therefore inevitable. "Instead of simply replacing existing signage, we have used the opportunity to update the brand to give it a fresh and contemporary feel and make it work harder for our cause," she said.

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