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Updating our brand identity

Our new look
Our new look

Author: Johanna Cronin, head of communications

We’ve been supporting organisations working hard to improve the lives of real Londoners for the last 134 years. Today our focus is firmly on putting people with experience of the issues we care most about front and centre of the work we do. Our brand plays a crucial role in helping us to do this.

Why brand matters

Our brand identity gives those we partner with the tools to communicate our work clearly, confidently and creatively. And it helps more people understand who we are, why we’re here and how we can help.

Our old brand was centred on our logo, without a cohesive visual presence. We were habitually using too much jargon and creating our own language when there were simpler alternatives. We often used lots of words to describe what we do, and sometimes that language was quite defensive – focusing on our limitations, not our ambitions.

We needed a clearer, more confident voice, and a more distinctive presence to communicate who we really are and what we stand for. We needed a refreshed brand capable of supporting the updated vision, strategy and values we’ll be launching next year.

How people experience us

This work has been rooted in user research. We spoke to our existing and potential audiences to find out what they really thought of our work and how we present ourselves. We were encouraged to get a lot of positive feedback. People used words like determined, transparent, progressive, thoughtful, gritty and open to describe us. But it also helped us to hear some more constructive comments - like old-fashioned, middle-class mindset and restrictive.

Overall people seemed to have a good understanding of our work and what we stand for. But it was clear we would benefit from simplifying our language, elevating our brand visuals, improving the funding journey for people visiting our website and sharing more stories of the people we support on our different channels. The last point being especially important – to really help organisations ‘see to believe’ that our funding is right for them, by us mirroring back more stories and faces from the groups we work with.

Our new look

Our old logo was created in 2010, and it’s fair to say there’s been a considerable amount of attachment to it. We knew it was time to update it, but we didn’t want to create a new logo just for the sake of it. Like our language, we did want to simplify it, and to get more creative with the featured Thames River motif.

We’ve reimagined our logo, and expanded it to become an entire brand. The result is a complete set of new brand visuals that you’ll see across our website, social channels and materials. The new design works a lot harder to communicate our authentic personality as an organisation, andf gives us more tools to share stories about the work we’re funding.

Our new voice

During my time so far at Trust for London, I’ve been really struck by how genuine, warm, dedicated and knowledgeable the people that make up our team are. But the way we talk about our work and invite people to apply for funding hasn’t always translated that collective personality as well as it could. And even for me as someone that works in communications, it can be hard to step away from the corporate tone we so often associate as necessary to our work voice.

We've taken a fresh look at the words we use to describe what we do, and really honed in our personality as an organisation. The result is a new and intentional approach to our written voice, which you’ll see rolled out across all of our communications, from our website to our grant administration.

Unsurprisingly, one of the main takeaways has been to simplify our language. We support a huge range of different groups and communities. We want to make it easy for every single one to understand our work. If you’re not fully convinced about the virtues of plain English, see this piece of research from Princeton University. It showed that writers who use long or complicated words are often seen as less intelligent than those who stick to more basic vocabulary.

Some things we’ll be doing from now on are:

  • Using concise, focused, plain English.
  • Keeping sentences short and using contractions.
  • Breaking some (but not all!) traditional grammar rules.
  • Putting the people we support at the heart of all things.

We hope you like the new look. It's not perfect yet and we'll be working to continuously improve it in the coming months. Your thoughts matter, and we welcome you to reach out with your feedback.