Our new brand: Why and how

We’ve decided to refresh NCVO’s brand. If you’d like to know ‘why?’ or ‘how?’, read on.

Where did it begin?

Two years ago, we’d just merged with Volunteering England. The name of the ‘new’ organisation was still NCVO but there was no doubt that this was a significant change.

The new organisation had a far broader mission than either of the original organisations – encompassing both voluntary organisations and volunteering. From the outset the questions of name and identity were very real ones. After we merged, we went through a long process to create a new strategy, vision and mission.

Strategy before brand

As all the best practice tells us, brand must be rooted in strategy:

‘If your organisational strategy is the plan that will take you from where you are now to where you want to be in the future, branding is the complementary process of shifting your audiences’ perceptions from where they are today to where you need them to be in order to achieve your strategy. Branding is the process of closing the gap’.

Charity Comms

The strategy project was so big that we didn’t have enough resource to develop our brand at the same time. So, we didn’t start thinking about brand until early last year, when the strategy development was nearly complete. That felt right to us – it meant that the strategy was already being delivered when we started to think about brand.

Seeking clarity

We weren’t just being driven by the merger. We were also keen to look at our visual identity because we knew that many people couldn’t easily grasp what NCVO offered them. It is now 10 years since we moved from this…

NCVO's 'old old' logo

…to this…

NCVO's 'new old' logo

…and the look and feel of many of our most valued products and services had drifted so far away that they weren’t readily recognisable as part of NCVO. Mergers and transfers (from KnowHowNonProfit to, most recently, CES, as well as a number of brands associated with Volunteering England) added to the eclectic mix of identities that fell under the NCVO banner. So, all in all, it was time to reconcile a large number of brands in order to provide some clarity.

How we did it (the short version!)

Our ambition was to get a brand that really works, while being frugal with money and staff time. Like our members, we need to deliver more with less. So we:

1. Ran a competitive tender process to select an agency

We set out our budget and looked at who could deliver the most and the best value for money.

2. Developed the brand with our members

Through several online surveys and by showing early visual ideas at our AGM, and then responding to feedback, we were able to cost-effectively develop a brand that works. In total we heard from several hundred NCVO members. And we talked to non-members too. As a membership organisation it’s important to us that we involve members where we can. We had to get the balance right between bombarding people with questions that weren’t likely to be relevant to their day jobs, while also getting a good idea for what members would like.

3. Didn’t go looking for a ‘big bang’

Wherever possible we are updating things when they need to be updated anyway, so you’ll see the new brand gradually roll out on NCVO websites and elsewhere over the next few months. This will save us a lot of cost.

Our main website has been re-branded, and we’re working on our templates for this blog.

So what does it all mean?

At the heart of our new identity, we elevate and champion the ‘V’. This stands for the voluntary sector and volunteering. For all sizes of voluntary organisation across the country. For a thriving volunteer movement.

The position of the ‘V’ and the strapline in our logo emphasises our commitment to amplifying the voice of the voluntary sector and volunteer movement.

But the logo is just one part – our new identity gives us a toolkit that will help us tell the stories of our members and reflect the vibrancy and diversity of the voluntary sector.

Staying focussed

At the end of the day, brand is about how you communicate your strategy and your values. When it’s right, it can really help organisations to make a bigger difference. What matters to us is delivering on our strategy, and how our new brand can help us do this – that’s how we will measure our success.

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Megan Griffith Gray, Director of Strategy and Transformation Megan is director of strategy and transformation at NCVO and is responsible for the organisation’s strategy, planning and reporting. She also leads the digital, marketing and technology functions.

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