Baxter & Bailey has collaborated with children’s charity the NSPCC on a redesign of the NSPCC Helpline’s visual identity that features bespoke illustrations and a “graphic lifeline” to raise awareness for the service and “reassure people that they are making the right call”.
The NSPCC Helpline is where adults can report concerns about a child’s safety or wellbeing, not to be confused with Childline, which is for children to access. According to Baxter & Bailey designer Lydia Fisher, there is not the same “awareness” as there is for Childline.
Another problem was people’s “hesitation or reluctance to access the service in case they were wrong about their concerns”, says Fisher. By repositioning the helpline to be “really reassuring in tone”, Baxter & Bailey sought to encourage people to report their concerns and feel “more comfortable” doing so, she adds.
A crucial thread running throughout the visual identity is the “graphic lifeline”, representing “a constant, ever-present source of help and support”, says Fisher. She adds that Baxter & Bailey brought in illustrator Jonathan Calugi for his “flexible style” which was applied to both “simple and graphic” depictions and “more complex scenes”.
The “hand-drawn line texture” of the illustrations resonates with the wider NSPCC brand and aims to “highlight different points of contact”, like the helpline phone, chat and form, says Fisher. Definition-stage research found that “people thought it was just a call centre”, Fisher explains, so the new visual identity tries to highlight its “less intimidating methods” of contact.
According to Fisher, the research stage involved talking to “the general public about their awareness and understanding of [the helpline]”, learning about the call handlers and their experiences and speaking to the “social work professionals who refer people to the helpline”.
Part of the studio’s “development work” included bringing the lifeline idea into the wordmark to carry it “throughout the core of the identity”, says Fisher. The NSPCC Helpline previously had no typographic mark and the name only appeared in a typeset version of the NSPPC Bold typeface.
Fisher adds that the service has always been referred to as “Helpline”, omitting the NSPCC at the beginning. The new wordmark – featuring its full title and a depiction of the lifeline underneath – has been designed to raise awareness of the service and its function.
The studio’s co-founder and creative director Matt Baxter says that the team had to work “creatively and flexibly within existing brand guidelines”, as the service is part of the wider NSPCC charity. Fisher says that working within limitations of existing brand framework is a “fun challenge to solve”, as she had to “think hard about the right solution”
“Having the weight of the NSPCC name was a blessing,” says Fisher, adding that the studio used charity’s recognisable green colour to its advantage when developing the “easy-to-spot cohesive visual identity”.
To set NSPCC Helpline apart from the wider brand, Baxter & Bailey applied the supporting colour palette in “a slightly different way to the master brand”, opting for a more isolated “balance and distribution” instead of full-bleed pastel colours, Fisher explains.
Baxter says that the old identity consisted of “just a phone number, an email address and an online chat with no existing visual and verbal framework to promote it”. The new visual identity, in particular, the copy and the messaging, was “tested across different audiences” to ensure that “the headline tone of voice would promote and market the helpline in the right way”, Baxter adds.
The NSPCC Helpline’s new visual identity will initially be launched digitally, followed by a wider roll-out across physical assets.