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Making hospice care as much about living as it is about dying

28 February 2020

Death. One of life’s two certainties, yet still very much a taboo subject.

Every person facing death has a number of heartfelt questions to navigate: “Will it be slow or fast, painful or peaceful? Will I be surrounded by home comforts, or clinical coldness? Will my loved ones cope when I’m gone? Are they coping now?”

Taking all this into account it’s no surprise hospices face the unhelpful perception they are simply places you go to die.

This is an attitude Royal Trinity Hospice were determined to shift by working with Spencer du Bois to develop a new look and strategic brand positioning. The aim: to drive forward the fact hospices should be viewed as a ‘place of life’, rather than a ‘house of death’, and that hospice care is as much about living as it is about dying.

Reframing the conversation around the end of life

Trinity is the oldest hospice in the UK, and one of the most innovative. They are passionate about reframing the conversation around end of life care, death and dying by encouraging and facilitating honest dialogue.

Despite a reputation for outstanding care, the hospice wasn’t well known across the community it served beyond those who had been personally touched by their care.

Trinity's new look and rebrandFor a number of years Trinity had been struggling to ‘cut through the noise’ with a brand that had become cluttered, dated, diluted and ‘very orange’.

The decision to rebrand was taken in response to Trinity’s strategic aims of reaching more people who need support across its catchment, and of generating the necessary funds to do so.

The board recognised expanding fundraising would enable Trinity to respond to growing demand for its care and creating a stronger presence in the communities it served (a population of 750,000 people) was key. They would need a fundraising brand that could bottle the reassuring warmth and expertise of the experience they offer their patients and their families.

Keeping focused on the person, not the illness

With patients ranging from 19–106, Trinity’s focus has always been on the person rather than the illness. They know that living and dying are experiences as unique as each individual they care for, and as such there is no one best way to provide care. It’s about tailoring care to what a patient needs at a given time.

Stepping through the doors of Trinity for the first time the sense of positivity, innovation, strength and calm really hits home. It was important to do this justice by creating a brand to reflect their remarkable work – proving hospices are about living and dying well and practically challenging taboos.

Communicating the rationale for change

Trinity established a team of nine to lead the new lo ok and brand repositioning work, and to ensure staff and volunteers felt part of the co-creative process, as well as patients and supporters. It was essential in the early stages to effectively communicate the rationale behind the decision to change the brand.

Spencer du Bois’ strategy and design teams both spent time on site with nurses, therapists and patients, exploring the gardens, cafes and corridors, walking the journey as part of an initial period of immersion.

Staff and volunteers from Trinity’s post bereavement community of volunteers participated in a number of brand positioning workshops, before early themes were tested in a web survey with their wider community.

Finally, a drop in session was hosted at the hospice, with staff and volunteers invited to offer their perceptions on both visual identity options and positioning statements.

Every moment matters

The theme “every moment matters” emerged at the heart of a brand that is life affirming, bold, resiliently optimistic and unafraid to talk about death.

The focus of Trinity's messaging needed to be warm and welcoming just like themThe new logo is inspired both by Trinity’s stunning gardens and the multiple streams of expert support and personalised care provided, coming together to wrap around each patient and those close to them, to create care as unique as they are.

This is carried throughout brand’s photography, graphics and copy, to capture the important moments – both big and small – that matter to Trinity’s patients and their families.

The specific idea was to develop a new look and brand positioning that would capture what a modern, innovative and vibrant organisation Trinity is. So with everything now in place, Trinity and its leadership, are very optimistic about the possibilities presented by increased awareness, fundraising and reach in the communities they serve.

Max du Bois

executive director, Spencer du Bois

With over 25 years of not for profit, government, social enterprise, b2b and b2c experience, Max helps people find out what matters and communicate what really counts. Helping good people do great things, Max builds brands that challenge attitudes, change minds and inspire action.

Polly Balsom

Head of communications and marketing, Royal Trinity Hospice

Polly has worked in charities for over ten years, focusing on relevant, imaginative communications that raise awareness, generate income and challenge attitudes. Polly is also a trustee for The Cares Family, a group of local community networks of young professionals and older neighbours hanging out and helping one another in our rapidly changing cities.