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Cancer Research UK refreshes its brand to better reflect the impact its work has

Cancer Research UK has refreshed its brand as it looks to emphasise the impact its work has on cancer patients’ lives rather than just the science.

The charity has updated its strapline to reflect this, changing it from ‘Together we will beat cancer’ to ‘Together we are beating cancer’.

As part of the refresh, CRUK is launching a campaign today (1 September), developed with Anomaly London. ‘We Are’ highlights the moments cancer patients and former patients have been able to experience, thanks to the progress already made by scientists in tackling cancer.

“When we talk to people, they believe the promise of cancer research and what it can do… but they want to understand the impact it is having on individuals, which they can relate to,” Philip Almond, executive director of marketing, fundraising and engagement at Cancer Research UK tells Marketing Week.

He points out that essentially everyone knows someone who has been through cancer, and the reason why people choose to donate to Cancer Research isn’t to fund science for the sake of it, but because they know the research it does could save the lives of cancer patients.

The first 30-second campaign video depicts relatable moments experienced by cancer survivors, from getting married to spending time with children.

What we’re really investing in is telling the story of our work and what we do and the impact we’re trying to have.

Philip Almond, Cancer Research

The campaign will also spotlight the progress Cancer Research scientists have already made against cancer, such as the development of radiotherapy and the discovery of different subtypes of breast cancer, which can help tackle the disease more effectively.

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Almond points out that cancer survival in the UK “has doubled in the last 50 years” thanks to the advances in cancer research, meaning “over half a million deaths have been avoided” since the mid-1980s.

The evolution of the strapline, from ‘Together we will…’ to ‘Together we are…’ is also aimed at better reflecting the progress the charity has made. It takes the strapline from a “promise” of what can be achieved to reflecting the journey cancer researchers are on in beating the disease.

The charity found that the old strapline was also giving some of the public the impression that there was one “silver bullet” solution to cure cancer, he notes. As there are more than 200 different types of cancers, each cancer patient’s journey with their treatment is nuanced and individual, and Almond says the charity saw in its research that people felt the old strapline didn’t represent their treatment story.

The refresh also sees the charity take a more positive tone of voice, striking the balance between representing the tough realities of cancer while also presenting people with hope.

Telling the story during tough times

Cancer Research is launching this work as the UK continues to experience a cost of living crisis. With the price of essentials rising, many people will have less money left over for discretionary spending and may find it more difficult to donate to charity.

According to polling from the Charities Aid Foundation in March, 14% of people said they are planning to cut back on charity donations in the next 12 months.

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Cancer Research does appear to have some resilience against this, with the charity reporting its income for 2022/23 was £51m more than in its previous financial year. It attributed this to the impact of legacy donations as well money from the ‘Bowelbabe’ fund for Cancer Research UK set up by Deborah James and its shops performing well.

We know how much we need to spend and not a penny more.

Philip Almond, Cancer Research

Despite this resilient performance, Almond does acknowledge that many people are “thinking about every penny they have to spend” and want to donate to charities they know will make an impact.

Investing in this work is allowing Cancer Research to convey its impact more effectively.

“What we’re really investing in is telling the story of our work and what we do and the impact we’re trying to have,” says Almond, saying that in tough times this is particularly important.

Last year, 82p out of every pound donated to the charity went directly to cancer research. Almond says the organisation is extremely dedicated to keeping costs low, with everyone focused on directing as much money as possible into research.

The charity takes an extremely strict approach to its marketing investment level and its effectiveness to ensure it can tell its story to the public, while not diverting too much money away from directly going to research.

Almond says the organisation carries out “very strong analysis” of its spend, including econometric models.

“We know how much we need to spend and not a penny more. We know that we’re getting a return on what we do, and we look very carefully at everything we spend to ensure we’re getting value for money from it,” he concludes.

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