British Red Cross prizes segmentation to create a brand platform rooted in national kindness

The British Red Cross (BRC) is visualising the warming power of small acts of kindness in its latest brand platform, a fresh mobilisation strategy developed after extensive research revealed the need to highlight the ‘British’ in its brand name.

British Red Cross experienced one of its most demanding years in 2017; its remit to aid humanitarian crises meant it was on the front lines when it came to helping victims of the Manchester bombing, the London Bridge attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire.

Yet Zoe Abrams, the charity’s executive director of communications and advocacy, chose not to focus on the BRC’s role in national emergencies for its latest brand platform, a mobilisation campaign dubbed ‘The Power of Kindness’. Instead, she briefed creative agency Creature to explore the small acts of benevolence that its volunteers carry out every day – sandbagging flooded areas, helping patients home from hospital and visiting the homes of the chronically lonely – and focus on the organisation’s UK work, rather than its plethora of international programmes.

“We talked about the British in British Red Cross, and what that meant to us, and we talked about the humility and the sense of humour and an everyday extraordinariness that we wanted to put across,” she said, explaining that look and feel of the campaign is one of familiarity.

“[It features] people who you can recognise as yourself, either in terms of the person that’s being helped or the person that’s helping. That’s tonally very different from the previous brand creative we’ve done.”

Launching with a hero ad starring real volunteers today (16 April), The Power of Kindness also marks a strategic turning point for the BRC. The charity undertook one of its biggest research projects in order to better target an audience with the digital ad and surrounding campaign; previously, Abrams admits, “we didn't know a lot about what the general public thought of the BRC, and specifically we didn't know what their motivations to get involved in acts of kindness might be and what issues they were interested in”.

From the brand audit, audience research and resulting attitudinal segmentation, Abrams’ team and Creature were – pleasingly – left with a target audience comprising half of all UK adults. Still, the charity plans to replicate a broadcast spend with targeted social media to reach its highlighted audience.

“We are trialing the implementation of ... segmentation to inform how we're designing all of our marketing and how we distribute it,” said Abrams. “So this is a real test and learn year for us in 2018, and we're really optimistic about the long term strategic benefits this is going to bring us.”

Being a steward of a brand with one of the highest levels of recognition (its logo is known and respected the world over) is not without its challenges, and Abrams admitted that while she wasn’t daunted by taking the brand in a new creative direction, she certainly felt “butterflies”.

“Nowadays, the reality is you’re not just competing with other charities,” she explained. “The reality is you’re competing with Netflix and other brands’ advertising – you’re competing for people’s attention. In my opinion, the way to cut through that is to talk to the person. And I’m quite optimistic about humanity.

"I think we have a natural inclination to be kind and we’re looking for opportunities to do so, and that’s what our ad is about.”

Watch how Creature and the BRC created the hero Power of Kindness ad in the main video above