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Scope’s rebrand journey to set themselves apart as Disability Gamechangers

1 May 2020

From a tenacious group of parents fighting for better education for their children as the National Spastics Society in 1952 to today’s organisation reaching two million people through advice and support, and by campaigning for equality for all disabled people; Scope has shown the incredible impact great branding can have. An impact that has not gone unrecognised given the fact they won the Third Sector Excellence Award for best brand development in 2019 for its transformation into Disability Gamechangers.

Why Disability Gamechangers?

“We want to be known as a social change organisation – a force that brings us every closer to everyday equality. Being driven by purpose rather than income as an important lesson to learn” Mark Atkinson, former chief executive at Scope, now chief executive at Action for Hearing Loss.

When Scope set about building their new brand it coincided with a new five-year corporate strategy which was focused on them shifting from being a social care and education provider to a more agile and dynamic advocacy and campaigning pan-disability charity.

In an essay written for NPC ‘How we’re building a greater Scope for greater impact’, Scope’s former chief executive Mark Atkinson said the charity’s shift would “allow Scope to refocus on having a greater impact by doing less, creating a platform for disabled people across the UK to achieve everyday equality”.

Atkinson said that “disabled people’s aspirations have changed” since the organisation was first founded as the National Spastics Society in 1951 and when he came into the organisation, it had been left “with a patchwork” of service which only collectively reached “a few thousand people” and was completely separate from its campaign and advocacy work. As a result Scope decided it was time to focus more on purpose and impact going forward, rather than income or size.

Linking brand and corporate strategy

In Scope’s case the brand development of disability gamechangers followed closely behind the organisations overall draft corporate strategy.

Market analysis showed there was a gap in the market for a more contemporary brand focussed on social change, inspired by challenger brands like the Paralympics, Channel 4 and The Superhumans. And the charity was keen to use this insight to move forward having had a chequered brand history with several rebrands that didn’t stick in the past. Market research showed that target audiences struggled to understand Scope’s role in the modern world and perceptions were largely limited to their charity shops and historical work with children with cerebral palsy so it was clearly time for a change.

Studying the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which many corporate brands now use as a tool to identify their social purpose and form charity partnerships, helped to identify that Scope lacked a clear definition of their cause compared to others, such as racial discrimination, gender parity and marriage equality. That insight, combined with looking back at the charity’s history, led to the core idea of Disability Equality, which in turn inspired the creative solution.

Moving forward with creative expression and a focus on accessibility
Once the brand strategy was agreed, it was brought to life through a collaborative design-sprint, where brand design agency the Team and the charity’s own creative team’s worked together to co-create the solution. The creative stage was kickstarted with a workshop of people with different disabilities to inform the creative brief with accessibility front of mind.

As Disability Game Changers, Scope needed to lead by example. They needed to be completely accessible in everything they do. From their visual identity to the way they speak and write. This is clear in their visual identity which aims to achieve accessible design and still project a distinctive brand personality. Plus of course they are committed to following best practice accessibility standards, on legibility, readability, font size and weight, alignment and capitalisation and have even written a blog series dedicated to accessible design.

Meanwhile stylistically their new logo embodies all they stand for and features the universally recognised equals sign =. Also known as the equality symbol, these two little lines perfectly communicate what Scope are all about: equality for disabled people. The logo is made up of the wordmark (Scope), strapline (equality for disabled people) and the purple equality symbol, as purple is a colour often associated with disability semiotically. Together, they embody the charity’s ambition to inspire a movement to end disability inequality and achieve everyday equality.

This is then further strengthened by the new corporate font, Hargreaves, which has been specially designed to maximise legibility as it has multiple accessibility design features. It’s easy to read, has a larger letter height and generous spacing between each letter and there’s no ambiguity between letters and numerals, such as l, capital i and 1. Better yet the typeface is even named after William Hargreaves, known often as Bill, who was the first disabled person to sit on the charity’s council back when it was The Spastics Society. A passionate and pioneering campaigner of disabled people’s rights Bill embodied Scope’s rebrand aims as he himself was a real Disability Gamechanger.

Photo: The Team

This case study is part of the new Brand 360 best practice guide.

Dan Dufour

creative brand strategist, BrandDufour

Dan is specialist in brand purpose and one of the sector’s leading brand strategists. He has worked on brand development across all sectors including Rightmove, London 2012 and Cancer Research UK. He's best known for his award-winning work across all corners of the charity sector, including Shelter, Parkinson’s UK, RSPB and Scope. Dan established CharityComms Brand Breakfast and is an author of our best practice guides to branding and integrated communications.