Feature

Girlguiding on revamping 100 years of heritage for 2018’s sophisticated and conscious girl

Girlguiding has revealed the largest design and programming overhaul in its 108-year history, a project necessary to achieve cohesion, inclusivity and kudos from girls more sophisticated than those from generations past.

The refresh comprises a redesign of guidebooks, badges and the activities the latter reward across all four of Girlguiding’s brands – Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Rangers. Now, girls aged five to 18 will be able to develop skills in coding, money management, survival, DIY and mixology, alongside achieving the traditional badges in camping and outdoor adventures.

The programme still features the traditional, household activities anachronistically associated with the organisation, but – crucially – these are not positioned in the context of female domesticity. Sewing, for instance, can be learned through the Craftivism module, which involves employing arts and crafts to support or protest social causes.

"There are activities in our programme where a girl might prepare meals – but that’s because adults may need to prepare meals," Kat Lee, Girlguiding’s head of youth programmes, told The Drum. "We’re not preparing [girls] for life in the home, we’re preparing them for life anywhere they want to be. That includes their domestic selves, their professional selves and everything else in between."

Lee began reconfiguring Girlguiding’s programme back in 2014. Four years' development has been “a long old process” but one that’s rooted in more research and consequent insight than most consumer brands could dream of. Overall, 44,533 girls were involved in testing the new activities. A further 6,169 were involved in additional consultation.

This process had two outcomes: the roll-out of the new programme would not come as a shock to members and their volunteering leaders, and Girlguiding could develop a programme tailored perfectly to the wants and needs of the girls it serves. And, as all they were all born after the millennium, their aspirations and tastes are shifting quicker than any Brownie pack that came before.

“As adults we can be surprised by how sophisticated young people are, so that why it was so important to hear their voices and really listen to what they tell us,” said Lee.

“One of the areas that they told us they’d like to be doing more in was learning the skills to speak out and influence in their own communities and beyond.”

As such, Girlguiding has created a ‘Take Action’ strand in its programming, which teaches girls how to build social action skills and become active citizens. The cohesive nature of the new scheme means the required basic skills of this realm, such as storytelling, are taught to girls as young as five in Rainbows.

Red Stone was brought on board in late 2016 to reflect this cohesion in design. Creatives were presented with a visual identity that had previously been produced “piecemeal”, according to creative director Chris Davis.

“[The designs] had been produced over time to specific requirements, which tended to create silos – they weren’t linked up and there were a lot of stylistic differences, and there was this extra weight attached to them sometimes,” he explained. “We had the chance to renew. In the books, for example, we tried to cut out as much excess as we could and make them as entertaining and as fun as they could be for the people to enjoy.”

Following Lee’s audit, Red Stone was actively encouraged to speak to Girlguiding’s members when developing the new design. The team was taken to weekly unit meetings, summer camps and jamborees to research the stylistic tastes of today’s girl. It was the sophistication of the membership that surprised Davis the most.

“You’d speak to a four-year-old and show her a picture and she’d say, ‘Well, the logo is interesting but it’s a little childish for me’,” he recalled. “Things we felt would definitely be a winner would be brushed past. The strength of the opinion they had was great, and the consciousness of not only where they were but where they wanted to be was really interesting.

“We learned quite quickly not to second guess but just ask.”

Red Stone were also briefed to create designs that were more figurative than previous iterations, in order to keep Girlguiding’s inclusive message of ‘For every girl’ flowing through all touchpoints of the organisation. The old Brownies dancing badge used to feature an “able-bodied, classical-looking girl”, for instance. Now, it features footsteps and musical notes.

There’s no doubt that the driving force of Girlguiding’s overhaul was its girls. Yet Lee also hopes the modern look and content will attract more adult volunteers to the organisation – a critical business challenge.

“We’ve got loads of girls who want to join us and unfortunately we can’t find space for them in our units,” said Lee. “We hope that, with this modern refresh, more women from different backgrounds will be attracted to volunteer with us.

“We hope they’ll also see more of themselves in our offer.”

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