Striking the right tone during a rebrand

by Stratton Craig

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Sometimes, even global brands struggle with their identity. Cancer Research UK (CRUK) is one of the nation’s leading cancer charities, but last year it identified problems with its image and tone of voice.

“We weren’t talking in the way we were acting”

In an interview Marketing Director, Natasha Hill, said: “We weren’t talking in the way we were acting”. The charity’s extensive research was not understood by the public, and copy was often bulky and confusing. In 2012, CRUK decided to overhaul its brand image at a cost expected to be around 0.03 percent of the Charity’s income over the following five years.
It was a substantial investment, but CRUK’s recent triumph at 2013’s Transform Awards, where it won both ‘Best Visual Identity’ and ‘Best Use of Copy Style/Tone of Voice’, shows just how pronounced the effects of a successful rebrand can be.

Top attributes of the CRUK rebrand:

Engaging with the public. 

Cancer’s an emotive topic, but CRUK’s copy was inexpressive and often packed with jargon. The new tone of voice is inclusive and involves the reader. A recent advert promoting Race For Life simply reads: ‘Cancer, we’re coming to get you.’


Charities ask people for money, so confidence is crucial to make a donation seem worthwhile. The new tone is described by Natasha Hill as: “Stronger and bolder. More confident with a point of view to it.”

Expressing complicated information clearly.

The new tone is simple and expressive: ‘Cancer has an enemy. Research.’ And its latest campaign uses real stories of people whose lives have been saved by the organisation’s research.

A thorough rebranding process.

CRUK’s rebrand took around a year, and involved a huge amount of work. This dedication ensures that the new tone of voice is consistent across CRUK and its communications channels.

The new identity isn’t limited to words.

The Charity’s ‘Arrow’ logo was causing confusion at events, as people mistook it for a navigational sign but the new ‘C’ marque is simple and distinctive. It’s also comprised of smaller parts that make up a bigger picture – a positive message. 

Do consumers engage with your brand? At Stratton Craig we can help with your rebrand by helping you to find a distinctive new tone of voice. We can then implement this in your B2B and B2C communications through our copywriting services.

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