Unleashing Change: Debunking the Backlash Behind RSPCA’s Bold Branding Refresh

Earlier this week, the RSPCA unveiled a brand new look… and social media users had a LOT of opinions on it.

Their previous branding has been in place since the 1970s, which means it was over 50 years old – and it was definitely time to freshen it up a bit, but it seems that not everyone likes the new look. 

But why IS it causing such a stir, especially as their look will have changed since their inception 200 years ago in 1824? Our Social Media Account Executive, Karen, looks into the backlash and what this can mean for the charity…

What is the Problem?

As I braved the comments, I noticed that there were a few common threads of reasoning behind the negative comments:

 

💥 People are used to their old branding and change is uncomfortable

💥 Charities are always asking for money – why rebrand if you can’t afford it?

💥 “How can you justify the expense of a rebrand when only a few years ago you made sweeping redundancies?”

💥 “Looks like a GCSE student has done this. Would prefer money to be spent on animals. “

 

Many users stated money and the fact that the charity relies on donations as one of the main bugbears with the new branding… but will changing a font and design REALLY impact the work they do that much?

The Importance of a Marketing Budget

Coming from a marketing perspective, it’s important to remember businesses often have a marketing budget which will accommodate things such as advertising, marketing collateral and, of course, branding.

 

The RSPCA, while a charity, will also have a marketing budget. Marketing is a huge part of the charity sector as the main goal for most charity organisations is to raise more money and encourage people to become regular donors and more involved with their causes.

 

This will always require some form of marketing… and therefore, a marketing budget will be allocated. This money isn’t taken from the budgets which will be animal-based, such as food, shelter or veterinary care… it will be from a pot of money that has been put aside for marketing purposes.

Just because money is set aside from the main goal of the charity, doesn’t mean it doesn’t help the animals in the long run… especially when it elevates their presence in front of potential investors.

Staying Visible

Businesses need to stay visible, and a branding refresh is a good way to catch the eye of new people and potential investors, particularly if the branding is crafted to have a much more contemporary appearance (or at the very least make you sit up and think “oh, this is new!” when you see it).

 

Attracting donors and supporters needs to move with the times as newer generations move into their target markets. While some Gen Z users may invest, for many it’s a brand they’ve known all their lives and may not necessarily react when seeing promotional material as it’s the same old branding they’ve always seen. 

 

Becoming stagnant isn’t good for any business, but for charities, it could mean losing out on vital funding due to people simply glossing over them as they’ve been exposed to their branding for a long time and it’s not engaging anymore.

 

Their Last Rebrand Was Over 50 Years Ago…

Many businesses rebrand many times over time, but having stable, solid and recognisable branding for over 50 years is incredible.

 

HOWEVER, times have changed since the 1970s and consumers are looking for bold, clean, relatable branding that catches their eye. As I mentioned above, we’ve known the old RSPCA branding for literally five decades… it’s time to bring it at least into the 21st Century!

 

Non-Expert Opinions

While it’s great to get feedback (both positive and negative) from your audience, it amazed me how many ‘marketing’ and ‘branding’ experts were in the comments. Please note the sarcasm here…

 

It was very clear to me, as someone who has gone through multiple business rebrands in my decade in marketing, that most people complaining about the design have absolutely no design experience… or even understand the work that goes into creating a whole new look for an already-established brand.

 

It’s the colour psychology, it’s the choice of font, and the little details that people can interpret (I personally love the addition of the full stop – a nod to their mission to end animal abuse)… it’s also thinking about where this will be seen and how much impact it’s going to make while still staying true to the core values of the brand.

 

The new design is clever and clean and still refers to the charity by the acronym – so not much of a change to the overall brand as a whole, just a font update, colour update and the addition of a full stop.

 

The Positives of Negativity

 

While it can be very disheartening to see people react negatively to something that you’ve worked very hard on, the comments are actually boosting the brand… organically, too.

 

Every comment will land the update on their connections’ feed as a “Sandra commented…” update, meaning that their complaints will actually help you reach more people who have slipped through your audience targeting net.

 

The new profile picture post will actually benefit the animals they need to save in the long run – new branding can often make people take note of the brand once more and that can then lead to additional donations.

 

Well done to the RSPCA Social Comms team – you’ve handled this situation perfectly and used it as an opportunity to educate. I hope that it helps boost the donations made to the RSPCA and that they can continue to do their vital work – regardless of the look of their new logo!

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