Published: 30 August 2016

Inevitable to preventable: challenging attitudes towards accidents

Do you think you can stop an accident? Most people don't.

With 14,000 deaths a year, and a third of A&E traffic coming from accidents, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) wanted to repeat the success they'd had in the workplace, with the wider population.

RoSPA: the "nanny state"

RoSPA has a proud history dating back to 1916 as one of the world’s leading health and safety organisations. However, their long history of successful life-saving campaigns weren’t well known among the general public and most people hadn’t heard of RoSPA. Those that had didn’t really know what RoSPA did, either seeing them as the ‘health and safety’ police, or unaware of their work saving people of all ages from the fatal effects of accidents.

The old ‘thou shan’t’ visual brand, coupled with overly authoritative messaging was a barrier to engagement. In order to engage the public, RoSPA needed to build a brand that would lift them out of the professional health and safety world.

Research insights

Stakeholder research was vital to ensure we created a brand that was going to truly resonate beyond RoSPA’s traditional industry audiences. To understand more about how people view accidents, we held focus groups with the general public to explore how accidents are caused and the effects they have on individuals, families and society.

The research showed accidents fall into two categories in people’s minds; serious or minor. For an accident to be ‘serious’, it has to have physical and psychological effects, often resulting in life threatening long-term problems. Minor accidents, on the other hand, require less consideration because you ‘pick yourself up and carry on’.

The elderly and the young have accidents, not ‘adults’…

The elderly and young people were perceived as most affected by accidents. Interestingly, children and young people are viewed as the instigators of accidents. "They don’t see danger!" meaning they are seen to cause and suffer from accidents. Adults, on the other hand, are wiser. When they do suffer from accidents, it is blamed on being distracted or due to alcohol consumption; beyond their control and can often be laughed off.

Accidents aren’t preventable…

Accidents are the biggest killers of children and young people in the UK, but people didn’t believe accidents are truly preventable. A fatalistic attitude towards accidents rose to the surface.

You don’t plan an accident, by its very nature it’s an accident.

This view of ‘unpreventability’ means people see little reason to change their everyday behaviour. However, while accident are seen to be inevitable, people show an interest in preventing repetition through common sense, picking up tips from family and friends.

A brand to get people sharing

Our research highlighted that RoSPA couldn’t challenge fatality at a single stroke, they needed to become the expert source filling the gaps in people’s common sense safety knowledge. In an age where forums like Mumsnet and TripAdvisor are popular and trusted, there was an opportunity for RoSPA’s new brand to give them a seat in the knowledge sharing space. They would be the public’s collective for sharing tips and experience on how to avoid harm; collecting, qualifying and promoting best practice advice on safety.

The new logo is formed of speech bubbles and incorporates the verbal active brand, adding an element of conversation to the visual brand language, and reflecting the concept of dialogue and sharing knowledge; shedding the old-fashioned image. RoSPA’s open, accessible, enabling brand is embedded into their digital strategy, linking all their channels to encourage people like you to share top tips, in service of their brand strategy.

And RoSPA’s new strapline, "accidents don’t have to happen", cuts through the bias and stigma to make people think again.

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Claire Hall, marketing manager, Spencer du Bois

Claire is marketing manager at Spencer du Bois. She works with charities to help them navigate their brand issues, find out what really counts and communicate it in a way that really matters.