July 26, 2021

Altogether with Bridge Northumberland

In our ‘Altogether with….’ series, we’re trying to demystify the branding process, ‘process’ in itself is so clinical, but it’s actually the very opposite. Even in a pandemic, our branding work has centred around involving the those who are at the heart of the organisation. It’s a fun, moral boosting and insightful experience. But don’t just take our word for it.

We chatted to Carrie Brookes, Communications Manager at Bridge Northumberland about their re-brand and the impact they have felt almost a year on.

 

What made Bridge think about re-branding?

Bridge Northumberland is a charity-led partnership helping people in Northumberland get their lives back on track through one-to-one support. We have a team of coaches working with people facing barriers to employment offering counselling, debt advice, help with CVs, support to re-enter training or education, digital skills…the list goes on and the help is all free. It’s funded by the National Lottery Community Programme and European Social Fund, open to anyone living in Northumberland age 16+.

What made you think about re-branding?

I joined at the start of lockdown, facing a real challenge of how we switch to digital marketing of our offer, but facing a very dated website and brand, plus confusing messaging as to what our offer was. I immediately set about writing a brief for a new brand identity, website and digital templates as we couldn’t work with what we had. The website was difficult to update, our brand looked stuck in the past, and now we were in lockdown this was urgent.

What were your objectives with the re-brand?

We wanted a positive, uplifting and welcoming identity that would appeal to our wide target audience and could be flexible enough to be used in a variety of ways depending on the age or profile of who we might be talking to.

We also wanted clarity around our name, as the programme was being referred to in a variety of ways internally such as Bridge, Bridge Project and Bridge programme. We considered a name change but actually, just simply Bridge Northumberland which was already our domain name, worked out best.

Why did you choose Altogether to work with you?

I had worked with Altogether previously at North of England Children’s Cancer Research and had always been impressed with their easy to work with approach, professional attitude and creative ideas. The opportunity to include them in the tender process was a no brainer but there was competition from agencies across the region. Having made the short list, their passion and understanding for the project shone through, as well as talking us through how they would practically work with us. Despite it all being virtual we felt energised that it would be a meaningful experience for us as a team.

How did Altogether work with your team through the project?

They carried out a series of workshops over Zoom with key staff, gathering ideas, understanding our values and getting to know us, plus plenty of desk research. I know we’re all really used to working virtually these days after the past year and a half of lockdown, but at this stage it was still a novelty and you can never be 100% sure if it would work. Clearly it did, and despite all the challenges and never meeting in person the project was delivered to our expectations and on time. The communication throughout was excellent

Was there a memorable moment for you during the project?

I think seeing the first unveiling of the visuals for the brand, it had us all quite emotional! We absolutely loved their ideas and could see straight away they ‘got’ us, and knew after that point it was going to be such a fantastic identity for us that we’d be proud to embrace and move forward with.

How has the new brand identity, values and positioning influenced your organisation so far?

It’s been a revolution for us!

Our referral numbers have never been so high which is the most important measure for our work in reaching new clients, we have reached 184% of our target. Our website visitor figures have more than tripled compared to the old site.

That combined with a concerted effort to embrace digital marketing to our audience has transformed our work and I’m sure was a significant factor in us getting a 2 year extension to our funding earlier this year.

How have your team responded to the new brand identity?

We’re a partnership of six charities, and as such Bridge Northumberland is not an organisation in its own right, so was always potentially a tricky thing to brand. However, partners have since remarked our new identity has brought us all much closer together feeling like we’re working towards a common goal rather than separate targets. It’s been widely accepted and quickly embedded into everyone’s work.

For other organisations embarking on a rebrand, what would be your advice?

I’d say it’s really important to listen to the advice an outside expert like Altogether who can be a fresh pair of eyes to your profile. They identified some really important issues with our naming and how we referred to ourselves inconsistently. It was really obvious when they pointed it out, but when you’re so embedded in your work its easy not to notice these things, or you just get used to the status quo. They could have gone down the route of a complete name change which would have been potentially quite disruptive but in the end just a simple tweak and a consistent brand developed was all we needed.

Their advice throughout all of this was thoughtfully delivered, considerate of the many partners involved, and overall invaluable.

View the full Bridge Northumberland case study

Visit the Bridge Northumberland website