When Action on Hearing Loss tested their banker cold acquisition pack with the new brand against the old (RNID), they saw a 20% drop in fundraising response.
Ouch. That got the room’s attention.
But any of us could have probably put the two packs side by side and predicted the response.
Of course it would do worse. Because it was going to the same audience.
The new brand was designed to appeal to new (ie, younger) audiences. So naturally, it wasn’t going to perform better, or the same, with the existing audience. Makes total sense when you think about it.
What that illustrates is that you can’t change brand without changing strategy. Change has to come everywhere – in your approach, your thinking, your culture, your proposition, and yes, your audiences. Otherwise you’re just changing the livery. A livery that works perfectly well for (and indeed has been designed around) an existing audience.
The biggest pitfall I could see seems to have simply been the order of the process. They changed the name, logo and livery of the organisation without looking at the architecture behind it. Now they’re catching up – looking at who the brand will appeal to, what the brand and fundraising propositions are, testing with external audiences.
Arguably that should have happened first – yet I suspect that would have led to a name change in their 101st year, and no-one was prepared to live with that.
This compared less favourably to the other brand and fundraising presentation I attended – the dual transformation of the National Schizophrenia Fellowship into Rethink. A process that led to a transformation in fundraising income. A huge leap in organisational profile. And arguably, spearheaded a cultural shift that has culminated in real people with mental health problems being the face of the new Mind brand – something that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago.
Of course, it’s too early to tell whether Action on Hearing Loss will experience the same results in time. Right now they’re in the midst of what I suspect is a difficult and knotty process. Perhaps in ten years they’ll look around and see a world where hearing loss is relevant and talked about, where it’s a cause worthy of support, and where they’re a leading charity brand once again.
I hope so. But one thing’s for sure. They’d be much more certain of success if they’d revised the strategy before they revised the brand.
He's the creative director. He likes emotional ideas that deliver. And blogging.