Future-proofing is the sixth state of rebrand - Charity Today

By Max du Bois

As featured in Charity Today by Max du Bois 

Re-branding may appear to be a panacea that will solve most issues, however without careful thought as to what a charity really intends achieving via a re-brand, the results may disappoint. We have gone through 5 core states of re-branding so far and have now reached the 6th state, that of future-proofing a brand.

It could be said that future-proofing should be an on-going activity, particularly as the third sector is in a continual state of flux and digital disruption, however there is a specific point at which small changes no longer capture the opportunities or protect against rapid change, and in many cases, both scenarios are relevant.

This is well illustrated by the merger of the NUT and ATL into The National Education Union. This was driven by a desire to use their combined strength to create a force not just to defend members but to ensure future changes in education were no longer dominated by kneejerk Government policy. 

For many people we spoke to, unions are dominated by ‘Red Len’, strikes, arguments and animosity. Parents felt teaching unions unthinkingly disrupted their jobs and their kids’ education, and senior school staff saw active unionists as ‘troublemakers’. 

The National Education Union wanted to change the record on unions and on education. They wanted to future-proof their brand to positively impact their own future.

As with most re-brands, it took courage and it took lots of listening. We learnt that across all their audiences, parents and education professionals alike were united by their commitment to making education better. 

So this re-brand had to embody a visionary new approach, a new union dedicated to a better future for the education system as a whole, bridging boundaries to make change. 

This is where 450,000 people joined together to change the future of UK education, and create Europe’s largest teaching and education union.

They made a commitment to make education a great place to work, teach and learn. They dug deep into what that would look like from the prospect of how they wanted to be perceived in the future. There was no point regretting the past, they needed to build themselves a brand new future that they could live up to and strive to develop in to. And one that appealed to all those working in higher education, not just Teachers.

For this to happen their re-brand had to be based around a visual brand that represented the strength and ambitions of their collective power. And one that marked them out as a new type of union. One that shapes the future, not one that is at its mercy.

The new brand had to cast aside the uninspiring, blocky union logos of the past. It now oozes energy and embodies community and togetherness through teaming interconnected pentagons. Crucially, education now sits boldly at the centre of the new logo as a proud statement of intent from a union out to change education for the better, for the future.

It captures members’ restless energy that keeps unions moving as they make changes happen and it reaches wider as it aims to attract new members and win the support of non-union audiences.

This 6th state of re-brand is an exciting venture into new territory for any brand bold enough to embrace it and it should deliver impactful results almost immediately given the drive and energy that naturally imbues it!