Published: 4 September 2015

How our online toolkit strengthens our brand and saves cash

Last year, Rainbow Trust rebranded for the first time in its 28 year history.

The rebrand was a huge undertaking, with significant time, financial and emotional investment. Understanding the importance of making the most of our new look, we wanted to do everything possible to protect our new identity and strengthen our brand.

One of our main priorities was to create a cost-effective and on-brand solution that would allow staff and supporters to create their own promotional materials quickly and easily. This solution would rule out the need for lengthy design processes, thereby saving on in-house design costs. We also wanted to empower people to use our brand to increase awareness while maintaining brand integrity and consistency through one central hub. And, of course, we only had a limited budget to make all this happen. No easy feat!

Hang around with those that make you look good

While we didn’t have a big budget, we did have big ideas (something I’m sure many of you can relate to) and decided that investing in maintaining brand consistency was hugely important. We spoke with suppliers who had fantastic products that we couldn’t afford and others we could afford but didn’t have the flexibility we required. As flexibility was one of our top priorities, we made a decision to work with an agency who had a fabulous web-to-print solution – they just hadn’t built it yet!

We partnered with an agency called Brand Meadow, and while they hadn’t created a product like this before, we were on the same page right from the start. They absolutely understood the importance of capitalising on the enthusiasm for our new look following the rebrand.

As we were their first customer for the product, the process was incredibly collaborative. Rather than working with what we were given, we got to feed into each stage of the process, creating a bespoke product that met all our requirements. We met with them at all the key stages, discussing everything from the functional and technical spec to wireframes and alpha/beta testing.

The online toolkit works by supporters and staff logging in to create and edit their materials. Some templates are restricted to staff via their email address, and materials that need approval are sent to the marketing department prior to print. Users type their own content into the templates and see it appear in real time, using house fonts, colours and style. They can select a theme, add an image from a pre-existing list, and insert details about their event using the easy step-by-step guide. Once complete, users can choose to download a print-ready PDF in high resolution, with or without crop marks, depending on whether their materials will be professionally printed.

All dressed up and everywhere to go!

We launched the online toolkit internally first, moving on to a small number of corporate partners. Once we were confident we had ironed out any gremlins, we launched it to all supporters with a news article on our website and through social media. Fundraisers now point supporters in the direction of the online toolkit as soon as they tell them about their fundraising plans. We currently have over 130 users and the number continues to grow.

We’ve had a great response so far, with users finding it quick and easy to use. It’s fantastic to see on-brand posters that supporters have created being shared on social media. Internally we’ve seen staff creating materials for events that they otherwise wouldn’t have requested through our design team as they weren't big ticket events. There’s nothing quite like walking past a shopping centre notice board and seeing a flyer that’s been created through our very own online toolkit!

In terms of time savings, users can create and download materials in minutes, which would otherwise have been briefed into the design process. We’ve had 131 pieces of artwork created to date, with an estimated cost saving of £110 per piece. Based on this, we covered our costs for creating the toolkit within the first six weeks!

Spot the difference

Here's a test for you… which is which? One of these took a designer almost three hours (including amends) to create and the other took a fundraiser five minutes.

The answer? The right hand image was created using the online toolkit. Could you tell?

We view the online toolkit as a constant development project. We’ve already added two new templates which will be ready in the next few weeks, and 23 new images since launch. Each year we will invest in further templates, images and technology, so watch this space! 

Top learnings:

  • If budget is restrictive, build in stages
  • If people have the right tools they use them effectively
  • The right tools allow staff and supporters to think innovatively.

Kate O’Neill, digital marketing manager, Rainbow Trust Children's Charity

Kate heads up the digital team at Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity. After five years in the private sector, she moved to the charity sector, working for both the Amateur Swimming Association and Dyslexia Action before joining Rainbow Trust to lead digital development across the organisation.