Developing our new brand
Our new brand and values are the result of a long process of reflection, research and consultation. Cruse Chief Executive Steven Wibberley explains how it happened.
For more than 60 years, Cruse has been supporting bereaved people at one of the most difficult times of their lives. When I joined Cruse 3.5 years ago, I was blown away by the skill and commitment of over 4,000 volunteers and 180 staff. At the same time, I recognised there was much more we could do.
- Many bereaved people weren’t getting the support they needed.
- We sometimes had a “one size fits all” approach to bereavement support and didn’t offer a mix of services to meet people’s needs.
- Our governance needed updating and our brand didn’t reflect the charity we needed to be.
A new strategy for Cruse
We developed our new organisational strategy Bereaved People First to change this. Our Board of Trustees agreed ambitious plans to build ‘One Cruse’ to increase the number of people we support and develop new ways to help those grieving based on their individual needs.
Reviewing our brand – how we are seen and how we communicate – was central to the strategy.
In my first few months of talking to people, inside and outside of Cruse, they had a lot to say about our brand. Many said it felt old fashioned, they were unsure about the name, and there was no consistency. It didn’t really say what we did. When we appointed Fiona Brydon as Director of Communications and Digital, one of her first tasks was to lead our brand refresh. We asked creative agency Red Stone and a freelance brand strategist, Dan Dufour, to support us as we started to investigate.
Through a series of stakeholder interviews, surveys, workshops with our staff and volunteers, desk research and market research with the wider public, Dan and Fiona got to the bottom of what people thought of Cruse and how they perceived us.
As we suspected, those who knew of our work – mainly former clients and health care professionals – recognised and recommended us unreservedly. But too few people had heard of us, or knew we were here for everyone and anyone who had ever been bereaved.
Based on this insight, Dan and Red Stone started developing a brand strategy – testing new names, a new vision, mission and values and a new visual identity. Then the pandemic hit. We had to put the work on hold and shift our focus to supporting bereaved people and speaking out on their behalf. We moved all our work from face to face to phone or zoom, launched new services, website visits rocketed and callers to the helpline tripled.
Between waves of Covid, we refocused on brand. The awful months of the pandemic had actually been useful learning. Health professionals, MPs and the media had clearly recognised the name “Cruse” so why would we change it? We needed to be more confident and bold in how we talk. At the same time, we recognised that the kindness of our people is central to everything we do.
Partly driven by the disproportionate Covid deaths amongst the BAME community, we increased our focus on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and realised the brand needed to reflect that and be more inclusive.
A newly refreshed brand
Out of the trauma of the pandemic our refreshed brand developed. The extra insight we had gathered helped us move the brand forward, it needed to work harder for us and we needed to be more confident in the way we speak. The creatives that Red Stone had so brilliantly developed still worked, and Fiona picked up developing a new brand strategy for this new world.
She conducted more workshops, surveys and engagement with our incredible volunteers and consulted with bereavement experts we had worked with during the pandemic. After much refining we developed the strategy, moving us from soft and passive to real, ambitious and inclusive for all. We decided to keep the plans to change our name from Cruse Bereavement Care to Cruse Bereavement Support to better reflect what we actively do.
Our new brand demonstrates our expertise but retains our warmth – so that any vulnerable and grieving person will feel safe to come to us.
A key part of the brand strategy was our new values – we are kind, genuine, inclusive and ambitious. Any organisational change needs to be underpinned by culture and leadership and Fiona ensured the new values truly reflected the culture of the charity. It was crucial these words weren’t clichés or meaningless – but underpinned by the work we do.
A new tool to help grieving people
Alongside launching the brand, we also relaunched our website and developed a new grief self-assessment tool using funding from the National Lottery Community Digital fund. Over a million people came to our website last year and the majority are looking for support. If we are to reach the hundreds of thousands of grieving people who don’t currently access bereavement support, we need to test how new digital methods work alongside our existing local services to increase our reach and provide new ways of helping bereaved people.
The self-assessment tool uses an adaptation of the Adult Attitudes to Grief model and will help users find the right support, alongside understanding and normalising their grief. It works in tandem with the new brand strategy.
We now have a brand that everyone in Cruse can feel proud of. A brand that everyone had an opportunity to feed in to. And a brand that will leave a legacy of supporting and reaching more grieving people than ever before.