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The 2018 thoughts archive

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.


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.


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.


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.


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”.


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.


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

We're hiring. Strategically-minded Client Services Director wanted.

Due to an internal promotion, we’re looking for a Client Services Director with proven brand communications, leadership and business development skills. Combined with a natural flair for strategy, you will lead on a wide range of client projects across a variety of sectors.

As a member of the Management Team, you will work in close collaboration with our Managing Director, Director of Strategy and Creative Director, having responsibility for the delivery of projects, development of client relationships and will help to develop the agency offer.

The ideal candidate will have bags of drive and stamina, teamed with strong management skills and may currently be constrained by the strictures and structure of their current culture, where there may be little room to grow or develop. This isn’t the case at True North. We welcome original thinkers with a strong point of view.

As the focal point for clients and the account handling team, you will help to shape and deliver ideas that solve business challenges. Great communication skills, business acumen and natural relationship building are a must.

Experience in branding is essential, exposure to more diverse creative disciplines would be advantageous.

If you're interested in joining our team, please send a CV and covering letter to

No agencies, thanks.

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