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If we had to do it all again, would we, could we, should we?

Jane Petit, CEO of Foothold, presented at our Grant Making Forum on Wednesday 26 February to discuss the recent rebrand of their charity, formally known as IET Connect.

I was really delighted to be invited to talk at the ACO Grant Making Forum about our experience of rebranding our organisation and to have the opportunity to look at it from an organisational perspective rather than a technical one.

Our rebrand has been a long journey starting back in 2017 with a digital audit and culminating with the launch of the website (phase one) on 15 January this year. In fact, the roots started with a piece of research back in 2012 which suggested that the name IET Connect wasn’t widely understood or known about.

I think for a while rebranding was left in the "too hard" box, even when a fundraising feasibility study in 2014 echoed the same concerns, and I can understand why. But in 2017, with a new marketing team, it became clear that there was a pressing need to look at our brand and how we communicated with the world.

Originally the thought was that this would be a brand refresh. But as our creative agency Neo began their research and review phase, and started to articulate the feelings of staff, volunteers and IET members, it became clear that we needed a bigger step change than a refresh allowed for if we were to achieve the deliverables for the project, which were to:

  • raise awareness
  • enable us to make meaningful connections through a refreshed identity
  • empower us to fulfil our purpose
  • drive momentum post-rebrand to keep improving lives

I joined the organisation on 19 January and met with Neo to get a grasp of the project. One of my concerns was that we had often asked questions about what people know about us as an organisation or what they thought of our services, but we had never really asked what they felt their issues were. So, we embarked on a research project, starting with focus groups, which helped refine a questionnaire that was then sent to 90,000 people.

The results showed that whilst people were positive about our financial and legal help, their main concerns were around work-life (not the professional side, which is dealt with by our Institution, but the more personal side of wanting to change career or finding their workplace toxic), emotional health and wellbeing, and going forwards physical health issues.

This understanding, together with the beliefs and commitments that had developed through the brand articulation phase, was pulled together when we met with Neo as a whole team to develop our strategy. With that down on paper, we were able to move onto looking at naming and a visual identity for this new brand. 

This really proved the most difficult part of the journey. With the realisation in our naming workshop that Neo’s first choice didn’t feel right for us, a small group then spent a couple of weeks toing and froing with possibilities from the sublime to the frankly ridiculous!

And then came Foothold, decision made, and we were able to move forward. The visual identity and language that the agency developed in our identity guidelines have been a joy to work with – we love the colour palette, the icons are an amazing tool for communication, and the language and way of talking have transformed the way we communicate with our community. As an example that I think typifies this amazing journey, we now feel that as a team we are part of the community, not separate from it, with us all being able to help each other and be helped at different times. So gone are “beneficiaries” and instead we talk about “people we support” and “our community”.

So, six weeks out from the launch I go back to those questions at the top of this piece.

Would we do it all again? Of course, if there was a proven need. Should we? Absolutely if it beings advantage to the people who need support. Could we? These projects are not a cheap option. We did not have a history of asking for funding for particular activities, so this was funded through our normal budget process. That may be a consideration in the future, as would be the staff and volunteer time this took, as we wanted to be fully immersed in the work and not the passive recipients of the creative agencies expertise, and so we prioritised this above other pieces of work.

So far it is really early days, and as we repeat at many team meetings – the work starts here. We now have the tools in terms of our brand and our website and we have a greater understanding of the needs of our community. So now we need to increase our reach and our impact beginning with a threefold increase in the number of people we support by 2022-23.

And I for one am really positive that we took this out of the “too hard box”.