One of Britain’s oldest and most renowned animal rescue centres went through a rebranding recently. Battersea was founded in 1860 and currently has cared for close to 7-thousand dogs and cats annually.
The rebranding was left to the marketing firm Pentagram that first shortened the service’s name. It was Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and for some reason, the general public took the word ‘home’ in the name to mean that Battersea was the home for these animals rather than Battersea working to find new homes for the dogs and cats that ended up in their care.
The rebranding became “Battersea – Here for every dog and cat.”
That makes sense to me.
Essentially, the rebranding was a two-pronged approach, as explained in a Design Taxi post. The goal was to create “an honest and straightforward entity, supported by the warm, handcrafted watercolour illustrations.”
The name alteration was first part of the process. The second was to reuse the iconic blue of the existing branding and use it as the foundation of dog and cat ‘heads’ in an abstract but visually recognizable form. The artist was Hiromi Suzuki who created a total of five cat and five dog illustrations.
The animals do not have facial features, which add to the simplicity of the rebranding. However, with clever use of ears and whiskers you can easily identify canine from feline and get a sense of fun and excitement connected to the goal of finding new homes for rescued pets.
What resulted was a versatile brand that really has legs and fetches the attention of anyone who sees the artwork. You do know it could have gone horribly wrong but to even discuss that would be barking up the wrong tree.
I know that rebranding anything, especially an historic and iconic brand like Battersea, is difficult. But the proper steps were taken to ensure that the history of the charity remained respected and updated with a fresh, new look.
Where I agree that the name was somewhat misleading, what really sold me on the rebranding was the cute little faceless dog and cat heads used for logos and all other marketing purposes. I see the little watercolour ‘pet heads’ becoming as iconic as the charity they represent.
I find this kind of challenge far from difficult simply because the key elements of the brand did not change (the root of the name, the purpose of the charity, the recognisable colour associated with the charity). When a rebranding basically tears down what already exists and starts from scratch, there are bound to be some problems.
Pentagram chose to not do that and instead kept the ‘good’ parts and reworked the ‘not so good’ parts creating a solid foundation for a new visual identity. Marketing with a strong visual makes sense and helps to connect with potential donors and supporters who will be drawn to the abstractly drawn pet heads and because the name Battersea is so well-known, the charity will continue to serve as it has. Only now, it is with a stronger identity.