Case study: The Workroom and RefAid

The charity sector has become far more sophisticated about its marketing during the Nineties. As competition between charities has grown, they have recognised the need for a more professional and powerful approach to identity design. One of the things which attracted Fiona Alldridge, executive director of RefAid, to London consultancy The Workroom, was its experience in the charity sector combined with corporate work.

‘We’ve been working with charities for quite a long time so our knowledge of the sector is fairly extensive,’ says Brigid McMullen, partner at The Workroom. ‘Working for charities is probably more difficult than corporate clients because there are all sorts of provisos you need to accommodate. While you want to make it eyecatching and remarkable you have to balance it with not being too flash or emotive.’

RefAid is a UK charity set up to support the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. ‘The new logo gives the agency a powerful image that is readily associated with our work,’ comments Alldridge, who chose The Workroom after considering a range of consultancies from small regional ones to larger London groups. ‘Workroom had a fresh approach. We wanted a company with creative ideas which would stretch the boundaries. The identity has been tied in with our annual reviews and has been designed to meet the diverse needs of our different audiences.’

RefAid needed the identity to create an impact both with corporate sponsors and the public – from schools to community groups. The logo features the letter A, which represents a refugee inside a tent, housing a letter i to emphasis its role as an information provider.

‘The Workroom latched on to the fact that the identity had to be accessible and advised us not to lose ourselves in the UNHCR identity. It’s difficult to become a new charity and represent something that’s already quite big, but unknown,’ says Alldridge.

Although fees for charity work are typically way below market rates, McMullen says there are pay offs. ‘It expands the work in our portfolio and it can kick off work in other areas,’ she states. That is certainly the case with RefAid, where client and designer have established an ongoing relationship. ‘It’s become an investment in each other,’ says Alldridge.

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