Published on: Wednesday 13 May 2015 at 08:31
One of our five strategic goals is to increase awareness and understanding of St Clare Hospice and its incredible way of caring. A challenge for any small, local charity, let alone one that people think, mistakenly, is only to do with death and dying. Something people would rather not think about.
The trick is to let people know who you are and what you offer clearly, consistently and in a way that is different. The human brain is drawn to difference. It’s what it sees and takes notice of. Difference, then, is a crucial key to raising awareness.
So, a year ago, we set out on a journey. It began with a question.
“If St Clare was a person, what words or phrases would you use to describe St Clare?”
Words and phrases were put into a melting pot, stirred and shaped into a pen portrait to describe the essence of who St Clare is and what St Clare does. “St Clare is warm, caring and full of compassion…” is how it begins.
We took a long hard look at St Clare’s visual style.
How has it changed over the years? What is it like now? We checked how well St Clare’s current look and identity badge were known. Some remembered a yellow flower. Some remembered even less. We asked:
“What words and phrases would you use to describe St Clare’s current look?”
Some were positive, mostly because of the yellow flower. Some were not. It feels rather ‘clinical’, ‘official’, ‘formal’, ‘dated’.
We faced a challenge. The visual style needed to reflect better the essence of who St Clare is; to look warmer, brighter, more comforting.
We took a look at the visual style of others.
How different is St Clare? How well does St Clare’s style stand out? We came across lots of yellow flowers. People love yellow flowers, especially sunflowers.
We faced another challenge. A much-loved symbol used by many is a drawback if you need a distinctive style that will get you noticed and remembered.
We took a look at St Clare online.
Do visitors to the website get the same sense of who St Clare is as they do when they walk into the Hospice centre? Can people find what they are looking for? ‘No’ was the most common answer.
We faced yet another challenge. The website needed to change, if we were show who St Clare is – and stand out from the crowd – in the digital world.
What happened next?
Well, we set up a project steering group with representatives from across the Hospice to oversee the development of a fresh visual style and new website. We searched for, and found, the right partners to help us with both projects: a local designer and a social web enterprise. Both understood the need for a small, local charity to make every penny of limited budgets count.
We asked people what they wanted from our website. Then set about designing one that would deliver this.
We considered different visual styles, testing each against St Clare’s pen portrait plus nine different criteria. One emerged the outright winner. We showed it to groups of staff, volunteers and people who have experienced St Clare’s care and support. It passed the test with flying colours.
Inspiration for the new look was drawn from St Clare’s pen portrait. Two phrases in particular helped to spark the creative idea: ‘holding hands together’ and ‘feels like arms being wrapped around you’.
Celebrating 25 years of incredible hospice care and looking to the future, it seems a fitting time to introduce a visual style and website that better reflect the heart and passion of St Clare: to be there for those living with a life-limiting or terminal illness and all those close to them.
As the new look is rolled out over the coming months and traffic to the new website increases, our hope is that people across West Essex and the borders of East Hertfordshire will notice the difference, become more aware of St Clare Hospice and seek to understand more.
Interested in supporting us in our work? Here are some of the many ways you can get involved.