Changing a name is a big deal. It’s not a decision that’s made lightly. Especially when it’s a charity rebrand. How do you change a small organisation founded in the 1960s that has one of the largest volunteer bases in the UK with over 12,000 members?
We worked with Re-engage between April 2019 to June 2021, supporting a complete rebrand, website relaunch, digital transformation and marketing strategy.
Changing a name is a big deal.
It’s not a decision that’s made lightly. Especially when it’s a charity rebrand.
How do you change a small organisation founded in the 1960s that has one of the largest volunteer bases in the UK with over 12,000 members?
It takes a three-pronged project consisting of a digital marketing strategy, a new website, and an in-depth rebranding exercise to get employees, volunteers, beneficiaries, and, of course, the charity users on board.
What do you think of when you hear the word elderly?
It’s not a very nice word. It’s not a phrase you want to use in front of certain people.
The employees at Contact the Elderly struggled with this every day. They didn’t like answering the phone saying they were from Contact the Elderly or showing up to a meeting with older people and identifying themselves with that word in the title.
Some would say they were from Contact. Others would say they worked for CTE. It was also known as The Tea Parties after its most prominent event held by the organisation. Everyone had their own way of avoiding using the word elderly.
It had overtime come to develop a negative meaning to more and more people. Something kind of helpless, frail connation, when in fact more and more older people continue to lead amazing lives.
From a brand perspective, this isn’t ideal. It gets diluted when staff members start identifying themselves using differing company names. The website didn’t help either. It was originally contact-the-elderly.org.uk. Some would use the word hyphen when giving the web address. Others didn’t know what that meant, so they said dash.
Overall, there was a lot of confusion about the brand.
When a new CEO came on board in 2018, one of the first things she decided to do was change the name of Contact the Elderly.
It was needed to unify the organisation as well as allow the charity to go beyond what its name suggested. It wouldn’t just be about contacting the elderly. It would incorporate outdoor events and social activities.
The new CEO had a long-term vision that was going to change everything. She recognised that people over the age of 75 were becoming a varied group. There were some that couldn’t leave their home. But there were also others that enjoyed visiting a museum or cinema. They just didn’t have anyone to go with.
These people just wanted some company to enjoy these activities with. This insight was backed by the loneliness epidemic numbers, which continue to grow and impact millions of people in the UK.
The charity rebrand needed to incorporate this broader vision for the organisation.
Research was commissioned to understand what people thought of the brand.
It was unanimous that employees, volunteers, and users of the service thought there were consistency and recognisability issues. This stemmed from staff identifying themselves in different ways and the troublesome website domain.
Just writing your own email address took ages, e.g. email@example.com, not to mention potential donors who forgot to type in the hyphens and those who ended up on a different site.
A branding agency was brought on board to conduct further research and present solutions. One of the working titles – Senior Socials – resonated with followers and supporters. However, it didn’t meet all the criteria of what the brand wanted to promote, and it needed to be able to communicate the vision.
Re-engage came shortly after. It ticked all the boxes. The name represented the organisation's efforts to inspire encounters, facilitate connections, and create spaces where friendships can flourish.
We were brought in to help communicate the charity rebrand alongside managing the huge website revamp on the CMS side of things. Everything from content migration and wireframes to email marketing and social media.
We created a digital marketing strategy incorporating a six-part email series released every month leading up to the rebrand. Our team also produced blog articles that publicised the results of the studies that were commissioned on brand recognition and recognisability. There was also a social media strategy for the charity that we designed and executed, incorporating many of the same elements.
We also lent a hand wherever we were needed.
With the branding agency and organisation deadlocked for four months on the logo concept, Restless Stories helped facilitate discussions to help cement the idea of Re-engage. We purchased the domain name and conducted a series of workshops to produce a logo that satisfied all stakeholders.
In the end, none of the original designs from the branding agency was approved. We provided the sketches from a workshop with the CEO and communications lead and the agency’s designers produced the final logo from our concepts.
We even ended up running a couple of social media marketing workshops for the wider team, which we now also offer to other clients.
Relaunching their website, the SEO and rebrand support was only phase 1. In phase 2, we undertook a huge digital transformation. We created over 65 online processes and conducted a long audit of their data infrastructure, laying the foundations for a huge CRM upgrade.
The cost of recruiting volunteers went down dramatically thanks to our digital advertising campaigns - suddenly recruiting thousands of applicants in the space of a few months - not to mention much more effective digital fundraising throughout. None of which would have been possible without said digital transformation period.
Today, Re-engage is seen as a great example of digital transformation and their CEO often talks on stage about that work and how much it has changed things for them.
In fact, the charity ended up being one of the very few to actually grow in 2020-2021 - right in the middle of COVID. They experienced a 69% growth in revenue compared to the previous year and broke through the £2m annual revenue for the first time (£2.6m to be precise).
Not that we can stake a claim to the increase in revenue obviously, their fundraising team did an amazing job!
Is your non-profit or charity looking for a rebranding strategy or in need of a digital marketing campaign? If you’re interested in an informal chat, get in touch with us.
Alternatively, sign up for our Digital Hour. It’s a one-hour free digital marketing consultation aimed at helping charities, social enterprises and purpose-driven organisations.
Filming older people for Re-engage was a great experience: amazing life stories, old school humour and humility, real talk... and I mean zero filter for better or for worse ! I wish we could have focused on an actual series of these, giving a voice to people who are too often isolated. But the pandemic struck soon after we started and everything was put on hold indefinitely.