Roses Design Awards

By The Drum | Administrator

October 31, 2005 | 7 min read

Generally speaking, charity marketing is a tough nut to crack. Sure, it provides a platform for hard-hitting messages and imagery, while tugging on the heartstrings of a targeted audience, but it’s also an extremely saturated market place where achieving standout is a real challenge.

Leeds-based agency, Brahm led the way at last month’s Roses Design Awards with Twelve - an annual report, expertly crafted for St George’s Crypt. An exceptional piece of design that stood head and shoulders above the rest, ‘Twelve’ shied away from traditional annual report styling to impress the entire judging panel. During the process, both the agency and client were highly praised for demonstrating a comprehensive and skilled understanding of the requirements of the Crypt, producing work that evoked an emotional response across the board.

For those of you who aren’t aware, St George’s Crypt is a Leeds-based charity that, for the last 75 years (spookily, the exact date of its birthday fell just one day after the awards), has been providing practical care and support for the homeless and rootless. In 1930, during the Depression, the vicar at St George’s Church – Reverend Don Patterson – opened up the Crypt beneath the church, with the help of volunteers, to give shelter and food to the needy.

Brahm’s relationship with the charity began in 2000, shortly after a renovation and reopening, when a mutual acquaintance introduced the two parties to one another. Martin Patterson, fundraising manager at the Crypt, commented: “Prior to our relationship with Brahm, we’d always attracted a very loyal following, but it was principally church people. While that was fine, our needs were expanding, Brahm came in and gave us the opportunity to re-present the charity more holistically, targeting the corporate sector for support.”

This change in tact required a creative approach that not only communicated the charities aims and objectives, but did so in a way that got noticed and touched a nerve. “Good creative work ensures that the charity is taken seriously by the corporate organisations we’re trying to get support from. They’re used to a certain standard of work, something you can only get from a good agency. From the very beginning, Brahm has helped us to do just that.”

The first project Brahm produced for the charity was the highly commended Entertaining Angels book. Praised for its striking photography and touching testimonials, from people connected with the Crypt, the publication went on to become a best seller for the city and achieve international acclaim.

Brahm returned to striking photography and testimonials for this year’s winning piece. “We wanted something that reflected the impact the Crypt has had on people’s lives,” commented Malcolm Cowing, managing partner of events at Brahm. “Annual reports tend to be really dull things, full of facts and figures, and we really wanted to generate a more emotional response and genuinely tackle boundaries.

“We asked a number of people to provide comments for the piece, all of which were to be anonymous. Some of the comments were even provided by trustees. It really does demonstrate the work the Crypt does on a day-to-day basis and how it effects people’s lives.”

Brahm works for the Crypt on a pro bono basis, such is the extent to the agency’s support for the charity. PR manager for Brahm, Pippa Light, explained: “The quality of the work is really of credit to the Crypt. Whenever we do pro bono work, we require two things. The first is that the client must be brave and allow us to deliver some exciting creative work. The second is that it must be close to our hearts, because most of the work is done at weekends, lunch hours and evenings.”

It is undoubtedly this passion that has helped Brahm to deliver such exemplary results. Cowing explained: “You can really tell that the designers who worked on the project feel emotionally connected to the project. While we tried to do some of the work during working hours, most of Twelve was created in time donated by the designers.”

Such is the connection designers have to the Crypt, that when Lee Bradley vacated his head of design post at Brahm earlier this year to launch B&W Studio with Steve Wills, he continued to work for the charity. “It’s a personal thing, really,” explained Cowing, “Lee is an example of a designer that worked on St. George’s Crypt while at Brahm and, through caring passionately about the charity, has continued to work on the brand through his new venture.” While Brahm may have taken the top gong at the Roses, B&W Studio landed Gold at the awards for the Crypt’s direct mail andd a Bronze for the website.

Equally enthusiastic is Patterson, who sees the Crypt’s quest as being of vital importance not only to those it helps, but also to the city as a whole. “While other cities may contest it,” he commented, “Leeds is widely regarded as being second to London in terms of prosperous living. What this has meant is that the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ is widening in the city. It’s in all of our interests to create a more equitable city, where there are opportunities for everyone.”

Patterson does, however, see a real challenge in promoting a charity that perhaps doesn’t garner the same sympathy that others might. “I guess of all the charities, St. George’s Crypt is not the easiest sell. There’s a lot of fear when it comes to homeless people, especially where drink or drugs are involved. There’s always the argument that the people that use the Crypt are in the situation they are in because of their own doing. But we’re trying to get these people back on their feet and give them opportunities that they’ve never had.”

With the Roses Grand Prix in the bag, it’s easy to see what Brahm gets from working for the Crypt; aside from the warm and fuzzy feeling of making a difference, of course. Cowing explained: “From an agency point of view, working on St. George’s Crypt offers an opportunity to take the creative people into a new dimension and away from some of their day to day responsibilities. It’s very challenging work, but gives them the chance to do something really dynamic. We get to make a real difference and we do get some fantastic showcase work in the process.”

What, therefore, does Patterson believe are the key ingredients to achieving such outstanding creative standards and subsequently, tangible results?

“This work wouldn’t be possible without the fantastic suppliers we’ve work with that ensure the project can be cheaply produced yet remaining of a high standard.

“However, I think the quality of work illustrates the benefit of maintaining a relationship with one agency for a long time. We’ve grown and developed together. If we had used different agencies, there’s a possibility it would have been a bit staccato.”

Cowing added: “If I was to offer advice to any agency working with a charity, it’s that they should work with one that everyone within the company cares about. You then have to really work hard at investing time and effort, not just for a one-off project but with a view to it developing a long-term partnership. If you do that, the results can be fantastic for everyone.”


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