A branding project close to my heart, where I was both client and creative sounds like a dream job. But it brought with it challenges in this pro bono rebranding project for charity Think Malawi, which I am a trustee of.
The key challenge was ensuring that the charity’s existing beneficiaries in Malawi and supporters in the UK would support the changes. Others included maintaining sufficient detachment when reviewing my work, plus working with a charity board where decision making is done by consensus rather than simply being down to the most senior person in the room. I addressed these by gathering and responding to as much stakeholder and audience feedback as possible, and talking the trustees through my ideas at key stages.
As Chair of the charity Think Malawi, I worked with my fellow trustees and stakeholders over the course of 12 months to expand its aims: to support education projects throughout Malawi in addition to Ganet’s Adventure School which it was originally set up to support. Once the aims were decided, I led the development of an organisational strategy to achieve the most impact, where we decided to focus on improving the quality of primary and secondary education.
A new name was required which was not attached to Ganet’s Adventure School, it needed to be short and to the point and if possible a call to action. We trustees developed a shortlist, gathered stakeholder feedback, took advice from a trademark specialist and checked it against UK trademarks and similar names in use online. We decided upon Think Malawi, as it had a positive, aspirational feel the name doubles as a call to action.
Once approval from the Charity Commission had been obtained (with advice from the extremely helpful David Kirby of charity law company DK Legal), I developed a brand strategy to express the aims of the organisational strategy, which boils down to ‘a catalyst which enables Malawi’s next generation to shine’.
The brand strategy then formed the basis of the creative brief. In answering it I started out by gathering visual research from other NGOs, organisations involved in education and innovation, plus Malawian and southern African visual culture.
At last it was time to get stuck into logo concepts, and I developed a shortlist of five options. I incorporated the bold, sometimes clashing colours which I found from Malawian and African graphics in my visual research as a way of expressing the energy and modern spirit of the charity.
I am a big believer in incorporating audience research into my work, in order to help ensure its effectiveness. I put together a short online survey to obtain feedback from supporters on which route they felt best expressed our aims, as well as getting feedback from the trustees and other stakeholders. There wasn’t a clear winner from this feedback, so I developed three routes further, and eventually decided upon the chosen route for its human feel and because it best expressed the catalyst concept from the brief.
After obtaining final stakeholder approval, I put together a simple brand guidelines document detailing colours, typefaces and logo variants, including the animated version shown at the top of the page for use in videos and social media animations. The logo is now being rolled out across the charity’s online presence, including a basic website which I developed to be expanded upon later. .
Keeping supporters informed and getting their input helped to build interest and a feeling of involvement, and there was a renewed energy among supporters and trustees once we launched our strategy. This led to new trustee applicants who noted that they applied in part because of the possibilities from our new expanded aims. Now it’s down to us trustees to build on this goodwill, and deliver our promise of improved education for Malawians, which of course is what it’s all about.
If you’re setting up or rebranding a charity, and would like advice or practical support, please do get in touch via the form on my contact page.