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Rebranding cancer wellbeing charity, Penny Brohn UK

This story began in 1979 with a pioneering woman named Penny Brohn.

Penny believed we need more than medicine to live well with cancer. We also need care for our mind, emotions, spirit, heart and soul. That idea was way ahead of its time. But most of us now recognise the importance of good health and wellbeing to prevention and resilience. Integrative cancer care is becoming more mainstream, even if understanding of the terminology is poor.

Today, doctors, nutritionists, counsellors and therapists at Penny Brohn UK provide high-quality personalised cancer care people can choose from, and champion its positive impact so more can benefit. Through psychological, nutritional, lifestyle and complementary therapies, they inspire people with cancer to embrace their health and wellbeing for a renewed sense of hope and control.

The charity had some challenging misconceptions to overcome. Because their philosophy was ahead of its time, they had a reputation for being 'woo, woo' or were known as the 'hippies on the hill' in Bristol. Their branding also gave the impression the charity was predominantly for white middle class women and only for breast cancer, so a focus on achieving greater equality, diversity and inclusion was essential.

The pandemic had also created a funding crisis, putting the future of the charity under threat. A new brand was needed quickly to convey the brand truth and inspire more people to both seek support and give their support.

Brand strategist Dan Dufour led a strategic brand development process working with independent brand and design agency Red Stone, who created the new visual identity.

Market analysis identified a brilliant opportunity to embrace the wellbeing boom which has spread across sectors but hasn’t yet been well adopted by charities.

There is no doubt that cancer is an emotional rollercoaster with a rush of emotions, thoughts and feelings. Shock. Panic. Fear. Anger. Sorrow. Devastation. But there can also be hope. Hope that grows when people with cancer feel stronger, physically and emotionally.

Collaborative brand workshops with cancer patients identified the need to retain the joy of life, however hard things get. The idea that the charity provides hope and a light in the dark, or sunshine after rain. There is a path of quotes that winds its way through the beautiful gardens of the charity’s treatment centre, many of which focus on the hope and the joy of life, revealing a beautiful and honest brand insight.

The brand strategy positions the charity as Cancer Wellbeing Champions, brought to life by the values Ambitious for the future, Open to everyone, Stronger together and Finding the joy. A new Purpose focusses on helping people feel in better control of health and wellbeing through cancer. A new tone of voice guide includes stories for 'get support' and 'give support'.

The symbol within the new logo is made up of the initials of the founder. By simply rotating the 'P' and 'B' a sun is exposed through the clouds, the perfect representation of 'Finding the joy'. The symbols are used a unifying graphic device throughout the visual identity.

A colour palette of light, midtone and rich tones inspired by the charity’s gardens enable accessibility, including Buttercup, Lavender, Rose, Pine and Blossom.

A combination of a distinctive serif paired with a bold sans serif represent (P22 Mackinac Pro and Flink) combine strength with a softer human touch.

Cut out photography celebrates people’s individuality and the charity’s expert staff, whilst reportage photography shows the highs and lows of real life and the charities services in action.

Refreshing and enticing icons and illustrations have been created across three themes – Nutrition, Wellbeing and Exercise – to make the brand easier to navigate for cancer patients and their support circle.

The new branding was launched as part of an emergency appeal and will be rolled out during the year.

Dan Dufour, brand strategist, said: “This project coincided with me losing somebody joyous and very dear to me to cancer, so I found the process therapeutic. This brand provides a brilliant legacy, by highlighting the importance of cancer wellbeing to many more people. I very much hope it enables the charity to inspire more people and grow.”

Chris Davis, Red Stone creative strategy director, said: “Our branding project for Penny Brohn UK is already having an impact, leaving a lasting impression in the hearts and minds of our audience.”

By Dan Dufour

20 October 2023