Armed with a new marketing director, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has reset its business strategy, rebranded and created a tongue-in-cheek marketing campaign to shout about it – with the help of the blind and partially-sighted community.
A simple, legible logo which will be produced in both tactile and sonic formats, as well as a series of comical ads are taking centre-stage as the charity realigns its strategy after posting a £12.6m deficit for 2017.
“When I joined it was very obvious to me that we needed to refresh our brand,” said RNIB’s director of relationships Sophie Castell, the former Coca-Cola and National Autistic Society marketer who took the helm at the 150-year-old charity last year.
“I could see that perceptions were that we were quite old fashioned and institutional. From a brand point of view it was clear that we needed a refresh, but also that [the business] needed to reflect a modern, dynamic organisation.”
‘See Differently’ is RNIB’s new brand ethos. Underpinning it are three business goals: to connect the blind and partially-sighted communities; equip them with skills and use RNIB’s voice to change society’s attitudes to people with sight loss.
The result is not only a more contemporary brand identity but also a series of colourful, funny ads centred around the mantra of removing barriers to 'see the person, not the sightloss'.
The posters and films aim to show that just because someone has lost their sight doesn’t mean they’ve lost themselves as a person.
Castell said the charity wanted to tackle misconceptions in a way that was “sticky” for people.
“We discovered through the development work that humour was a very good way of doing that and actually we could be very impactful and get our message across in a funny way at the same time dispelled some of the myths about sight loss,” she added.
The creative was spearheaded by The&Partnership but the charity involved blind and partially-sighted people at every stage of the process, running workshops and surveys, as well as testing concepts and ideas.
“That has been a very, very critical part of how we’ve done it,” explained Castell.
The first stage kicked off last year, when the brand consulted its community about plans for a new strategy. During these initial talks, this group reinforced the idea that RNIB’s image was outdated.
That led to the wholesale shift in the business and a more light-hearted marketing approach, but far from just being involved in market research those with vision loss actually sat in workshops with the logo designer to create the refreshed emblem.
Taking inspiration from the font used in the original Snellen eye test chart, motorway signs the design team trialled a series of different typefaces and colours with people who had a range of different sight conditions.
The previous cold blue colour palette has been adapted to shed the perception of RNIB as having a “cold personality”. It’s been replaced by a wheel or fuchsia, yellow and green that offers greater contrast – making it warm, but accessible for those with low vision.
RNIB’s focus on inclusivity extends beyond the motif though. A digital iteration of the logo has been adapted to make it easier for those with low vision to decipher, while a tactile version with less sharp, more curved edges, has also been produced.
The charity is even jumping on the sonic logos trend with a version of its strapline that will be read out across its radio network.
Like other charities, RNIB has faced financial struggles in recent years. In the year to March 2017 it posted a loss of £12.6m and made a number of redundancies across the group.
Castell said that among the key achievements so far under her shore tenure has been the integration of the marketing, fundraising and customer engagement under a 'relationships' division.
"A lot of what I’ve been doing in my first year is just bringing teams together and making sure that we’re all working together very collaboratively."
With this financial transformation plan in place, it is hoping to return it to health over the next two years.