Interbrand rebrands Cancer Research UK

Interbrand has created a new identity and positioning for Cancer Research UK.

New identity

The charity, which is the biggest of its kind globally, says it has been prompted to rebrand by its desire to increase scientific research through fundraising growth.

Despite a forecast of the increase in diagnosis of cancers, the charity found that people were unaware of the prevalence of the disease.


Furthermore, an audit of the brand showed that people were unclear about the role of the charity, and a large proportion of cancer sufferers revealed they don’t experience the charity in their treatment.


The previous identity – which was created by Enterprise IG in 2002 – was shown to have practical problems; particularly that its directional arrow was viewed as wayfinding at events, and that the identity’s ‘bulkiness’ meant that it appeared in small text, when used by other parties alongside affiliate brands.

New campaigns will look to be braver, bolder and more confident
New campaigns will look to be braver, bolder and more confident

The new identity has been placed in what Cancer Research calls ‘A braver, bolder and more confident’ context, which can be seen applied in the brand’s new tone of voice, on campaigns.

It’s ‘C’ marque, which is made up of dots, can be built up slowly when animated, and the dots can be swapped for other icons to demonstrate different messaging.

Communications will also look to engage with a more humorous tone, the charity says
Communications will also look to engage with a more humorous tone, the charity says

Cancer Research hopes that the new brand will come across as ‘warmer, transparent and appreciative’.

Shop fascias will use a watermarked version of the identity on windows
Shop fascias will use a watermarked version of the identity on windows

A charity spokeswoman says that in time there may be scope for commissioning digital, mobile and app based applications of the brand.

Hide Comments (21)Show Comments (21)
  • toby j November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    it’s a lot more cheerful. the dots are fun. great to see them treated playfully. and i love the humourous mugs. spot on. the old identity looks a bit dry and scientific by comparison.

  • Elaine A November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I think this is a brilliant example of an identity which not only communicates the cause but is also flexible, strong and with instant recognition when applied to a variety of different information threads. Contemporary but without lose of gravitas

  • Jamie Rees November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Unfortunately this comes across as a bit of a university project for me.

    It doesn’t seem as though a great deal of thought has gone into how the brand transfers when out of the agency’s control. It will appear in small shops, often without refits and not having uniformed shop fronts. I think the watermark on the front of the shops will be difficult to roll out across the brand.

    There doesn’t seem to be much thought on the media rollout and how best to utilise a charities (often limited) budget. Would it not be better to look at how the brand transfers in-store on shelf strips and packaging as opposed to a six sheet which is probably out of reach and talking to the wrong people?

    As for the logo I don’t mind it; that being said I’ve seen it a million times before and I don’t think it answers the ‘bulkiness’ problem, it will still feel bulky at a small size.

    The TOV of the images used I think it also off the mark. Surely it isn’t just OAP’s that should be checking for cancer, I think it feels dated and non-inclusive, the copy also doesn’t work hard enough to be inspiring or memorable.

    In a sector where standing out amongst a crowd is difficult in itself, I think this could and should work alot harder.

  • Jamie Rees November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Also putting “If we knew what we’re doing, it wouldn’t be research” on a mug is neither humourous nor correct english…

  • Mark Roberts November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Have to disagree with the first comment, the old identity’s simplicity is a lot as stronger, this looks messy by comparison and lacks the clear idea behind that’s the existing brand

  • Stephen Bell November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    This doesn’t work for me. I see conotations of cells, spreading growth, and petri dishes…..all things that I really wouldn’t want reminding of as a cancer patient….it says DISEASE. I understand it is a research based charity but I think this is off putting for cancer sufferers.

  • @Kaleb_Francis November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Perhaps it’s just me, but I immediately thought of the work IB did on Thomson Reuters. Perhaps a bit of a stretch but the circular logo and the dots jumped out at me.

    Cute though.

  • Jez Alder November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    It looks like cancer. Not good.

  • Andy Columbine November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Despite a small legibility issue with the ‘Heroes Wear Lab Coats’ visual, (it’s difficult to read the copy OR understand the image it contains), I love the executions, which seem much more optimistic, and it’s great that Interbrand have been brave enough to inject some humour into such a difficult subject.

    Not so sure about the logo itself though, which feels negative in contrast. I like the flexibility to play with the ‘C’, but I immediately think of ‘Big C’ – a phrase used to ‘skirt around’ the subject of cancer.

    Yes, the previous mark was a little clunky to work with, but the mark clearly symbolised ‘beating cancer’. The new logo seems to have a less clear message, and could even been seen as cancer cells growing.

    Overall though, a much improved identity, and the positivity and optimism of the campaigns more than compensate for the slightly negative logo.

  • Kevin November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Can Jamie Rees suggest a few examples of the ‘millions’ he has seen before? For me I feel the whole identity is much fresher than previously, although for me the drop shadow used on the ad boards feels a little ‘InDesign’ default.

  • RJ Rhodes November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I really disliked the clinical, cold, corporate feel of the previous logo, so anything is an improvement. But sadly this immediately made me think of the bad old days Big ‘C’ for cancer. I was really hoping for something more visually and conceptually more original from such a powerful charity.

  • Toby November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am
  • toby j November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    there’s no such word as ‘alot’, jamie you numpty.

  • Paula Young November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Yes, it may remind you of cancer cells but then that’s what cancer research is all about!
    For me, this logo is not about those cells coming together but about them being blown apart and eventually obliterated. We can’t pretend cancer cells don’t exist so why not illustrate what we want to do with them?
    It may not be intentional but it looks like the breaking up of the big C to me. That means beating cancer! Cancer Research UK hasn’t got there yet but they’re clearly showing their intention – well done Interbrand!

  • Paula Young November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Oh, and as for the old logo – it was old fashioned, outdated and impractical! Enough said.

  • wiggle November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Cancer Research’s new offices are just down the road from the Crafts Council. IB didn’t look far for logo ideas…

  • James November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    How unoriginal. It’s a rip off of phone company KC’s logo.

  • John Corcoran November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Really good job – Hated the old ident. This is the The big ‘C’ owned – and handled with energy, interest and a load of flexibility for messaging. Hope they can keep the confidence as it rolls out. Am sure it wil animate beautifully on all levels. Even if it stays as a simple mark… a vast improvement JC

  • November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am
  • Emma Shore November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I think the logo looks like stray cancer cells spreading. I find it dark and negative.
    I think the tone of voice trivialises the disease and lacks the insight-based statements of MacMillan Cancer Relief. It is not a time for jovial, bumper sticker statements.
    The colours are impactful and bold with cut-through, which feels right for cancer. And the ability to animate the dots is clearly useful in the digital age.

  • liam November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    are interbrand chucking everything at this hoping something will stick? We have cute iconic C made of smaller things (done well IMHO), bold icons (arrows, bulbs etc, completely alien to the icon?) and image filled stacked capitals? Not sure if it is an identity system or a designers playground.

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