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A charity that speaks your language

Tone of voice is integral to the rebrand of Gaddum, a charity that offers advocacy, carer support and therapy for the people of Greater Manchester. True North has taken a strikingly direct, very personal approach that turns charity sector conventions on their head.

Gaddum represents a network of service providers across the region, which can be confusing and intimidating for someone who just needs someone understanding to turn to. True North pared everything down to its purest form, positioning Gaddum as a caring individual who chats on a level to anyone who needs help.

Ady Bibby, Managing Director says, “rather than feeling impersonal and offering services in a dispassionate way, we’ve positioned Gaddum as your shoulder to cry on; the trusted friend who can point you in the right direction; a much-needed helping hand through difficult times.

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The branding goes beyond the well-trodden conventions of recent charity brands. Instead of creating a system around a static, fixed position logo, the identity is driven by language – taking the form of an informal ongoing chat with Gaddum. The conversation continues across every way in which someone might engage with the charity.

A calming, reassuring, non-judgmental tone is key. Phrases such as ‘Life’s throwing a lot at you, isn’t it, I’ll help you juggle’ and ‘Yes I get why you’re worried, let’s find you some help’ give the charity a personality to put people at ease, even at times of extreme distress and uncertainty.”

Presenting Gaddum as a supportive, nurturing individual is a faithful link to the origins of the organisation and to its first President, Harry Gaddum. Founded by a group of ‘spirited men’ in 1833 to help mill workers with their health and wellbeing issues, Gaddum has kept the same ethos ever since. After the Manchester bombings, for instance, Gaddum was first on the scene and last to leave.

Gaddum is made by many, representing a network of staff spread across different support organisations across Greater Manchester. True North's rebrand has helped unite the network under one banner, speaking with one friendly, compassionate voice. 

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Lynne Stafford, Chief Executive of Gaddum commented "we have really enjoyed working with True North. From our first meeting through to the brand activation. Our new brand really does connect with people, whether users or commissioners.

A rebrand for any business or organisation present its challenges, however working alongside True North enabled these challenges to be addressed. Their commitment and the level of support has been outstanding and as a charity we are truly grateful."

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Connecting the community of Radcliffe

In an era of online shopping with high streets in decline, most of our traditional market halls are disappearing too. This issue has a big impact on local communities. Clearly needing something to be done to help revive our town centres, the community of Radcliffe has brought its market hall back to life with a vision to re-establish its heyday, turning it back into a bustling community hub.

Setting up a Community Benefit Society to run the market, their aim was to create a place for people to meet, shop and socialise. Connecting the community, spreading belief in their town and helping to create change and opportunity for the area. A place people can be proud of and enjoy spending time.

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The traditional market stalls have been retained and added to, catering for peoples growing appetite for local produce – edible and otherwise – and the ability to get up close and personal with local producers, learning more about where their products come from. 

Alongside this, the market also has a new food offering featuring a variety of independent food traders, a main focus is the Friday Food night when the market becomes a bustling centre for the community, getting together for after work food and drinks.

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The new vision for the market required a new look in order to engage the community and show a change was happening. It needed to feel like a space that people would want to spend time, so along with the refit and redecoration of the space, True North created a new brand that would help engage the community, tie the market together and encourage people to make use of this new social space.

The market dates back to 1851, so ensuring we celebrated the heritage of the place was important, as well as infusing a modern twist to reinvigorate the space. The new branding gives a nod to the past and the exciting things in store for the future.

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The logo marque takes its cue from the market being a home of the community. Combined with the unique structure of the building’s roof (both inside and out), these elements linked perfectly with a simple house illustration. The theme of 'three' runs through the market’s values, aims and services, and the triangular base of the marque is a visual representation of these groups of ‘three’.

The theme of ‘three’ is continued in the language of the market. These simple sets of words link back to the three aims, telling the public of our vision and goals and ensuring each trader can express what their product and stall is about in their own way. 

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True North are proud to be part of this exciting journey for Radcliffe Market. It’s such an amazing space and has already really been embraced by the local community. We’re looking forward to seeing future events and developments! 

Placing people at the heart of business

We were recently asked to develop a new brand for an exciting company who partner with the NHS, their business founded on the delivery of innovative solutions to the management of contingent workforces across the country.

Working in partnership with customers is at the heart of what they do, and we explored a range of names that could bring this to life. +Us was chosen, communicating the organisations drive to treat every customer as an equal, tailoring their product to suit the needs of each, and ensuring they work together to achieve the best solution in an increasingly complex and demanding environment. 

“People are at the forefront of the brand, both +Us staff and their customers. It’s all about communication so it was important that this came across visually” says True North Design Director, Sarah Dutton.

The new brand identity will be rolled out across a variety of communications, including a new website which will be live over the next 12 months.

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More growth at True North

We're delighted to welcome a new face to True North - Brian Mansfield.

Brian, who will assume the position as non-executive director, is former Chairman of Taxi Studio. It comes at a time when we’ve secured a number of new high-profile clients, including Bruntwood, Liverpool John Moores University, Blackpool Museum Project and Cancer Research UK.

Ady Bibby, Managing Director said “we’ve known (and courted) Brian for a number of years, his track record is second to none”. Mansfield, a former board director at the DBA and MD of Blue Marlin added “I am pleased to be in a position to help steer True North through its ambitious plans for future growth. Their creative product and team are exceptional, the client base envisage and potential huge - watch this space!”

BMC – Research in progress

When BioMed Central – the family of academic journals – needed to re-define their brand, and their brand purpose, they turned to True North for their expertise in making brands matter.

The advent of the internet in the 1990s brought great change to the world of academic publishing and the ways in which research was shared. A digital-first start-up, BioMed Central was a pioneer and the first to make an ‘Open Access’ model sustainable. However, competitors were quick to enter the market, offering their own versions of Open Access, causing BioMed Central to become one of many.

BioMed Central was still inventive, but felt that they needed to reinvigorate that original pioneering spirit, re-engaging with their audiences and clearly articulating their proposition to offer a wider portfolio of subject fields for authors or researchers considering Open Access publishing.

Biomed Central was now part of Springer Nature - the world’s leading academic publisher. And, as part of Springer Nature’s ongoing strategy to improve the quality of publishing and author services, there was a requirement for the brand to help galvanise their offer, both internally and externally.

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We worked with the team at BMC to reframe their brand strategy – from being focussed on one breakthrough invention in 1999, to seeing innovation as an attitude where they continue to make incremental improvements to how research is shared.

Strategy Director Stuart Barnes said “The brand idea – ‘Research in Progress’ - was built upon insights of how BioMed Central operate, the nature of their service versus other brands, and the truth about how academic researchers view themselves – that most research is small steps forward rather than entirely new discoveries.”

Rebranded as BMC, they have successfully reached into new territories and markets, re-energised product development and now operate with far greater coherence. The visual identity system, inspired by the turning of a page to find out what’s next, has helped build their presence and achieve greater pride in the brand, inside and outside the organisation.

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Following the launch of BMC, Rachel Burley, Vice President and Publishing Director at Open Research Group, Springer Nature said “This is a fantastic achievement, we are really delighted with the reinvigorated visual identity and brand story True North created for us and are looking forward to a successful future for BMC.”

Where Greatness meets - The Boat Race New Identity

The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race has been rebranded by True North in a bid to reassert its position as Britain’s greatest race, helping to support future commercial ambitions.

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The annual battle between the two universities marks one of the greatest rivalries in sport. This gruelling challenge spanning a history of over 185 years has become an annual British tradition that is broadcast around the world. However, with connotations of an event for the rich and the elite and the inclusion of the women’s race, the event branding needed to change.

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True North Design Director, Sarah Dutton said “This was a once in a lifetime project. We aimed to recapture the race’s identity and heritage, to tell it’s unique story and help it rightfully claim it’s place as one of Britain’s top sporting events”.

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Working alongside The Boat Race Company Ltd, True North developed a new positioning and visual identity that articulates the unique rivalry between the two teams, expressed through the concept of ‘Where Greatness meets’. “It is the perfect vehicle to highlight all the elements that go into making the race special” continues Dutton.

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The new brand was rolled out at the latest race on Saturday 24th March, with further application over the coming 12 months.

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