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The 2019 thoughts archive

Cancer Research UK – shining a light on cancers affecting children and young people


September was Childhood Cancer Awareness month and to mark it we are delighted to have given Cancer Research UK’s ‘Kids & Teens’ proposition an overhaul, shining a light on the charity’s new research strategy to improve survival and long-term outcomes for children and young people with cancer.

The need for a separately focused proposition stems from the fact that cancer in children and young people is different from cancer in adults.  It also presents different challenges, including the types of cancer that develop, the impact of treatment, and the long-term side effects following treatment. 

Research showed that the previous look and feel represented very young children, despite the demographic being aimed at teenagers and young adults up to the age of 24.  


Our strategic repositioning began with a more accurately descriptive name: Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People, chosen in conjunction with those directly affected by children’s and young people’s cancers. Rather than a separate proposition and to add more gravitas, the logo is now a lock-up with the main charity masterbrand.


Beyond the logo, there is much greater freedom with how the proposition is expressed visually. Dots of varying scales and are an integral part of the masterbrand’s visual language, so we used this to develop a series of circular graphic patterns that adapt to appeal to radically different ends of the age spectrum.

For children (0-14), simple and loose hand-drawn patterns mimic a child's scribble. Patterns aimed at young people (15-24) are more refined, with an increased level of detail.  Managing Director, Ady Bibby says “the proposition and visual interpretation engages young adults in a way that its predecessor, Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens, wasn’t able to.”

Dr Áine McCarthy, who led the project at Cancer Research UK says: “Researching children’s and young people’s cancers is an important part of our work. We have a long, positive track record in this area, but we’re determined to do more to help improve survival and long-term outcomes for children and young people with cancer. 

“To do this, we needed to update our branding so that it better reflects our work and ambition. True North took on this challenge and succeeded. Through open conversations with numerous stakeholders, clear, strategic thinking that got to the heart of the issues and a clear passion for the project, they identified the challenges we were facing and provided solutions. The end result, Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People, is something that truly reflects our work in this area and keeps those affected by children’s and young people’s cancers at its heart.”


Championing the power of collaborative art

Heart of Glass is a community arts programme based within the town of St. Helens which has recently gained national status as one of the Arts Council’s National Portfolio Organisations.

They are one of the first organisations in the UK dedicated to the practice of socially engaged art – a participatory art form, often involving people as the medium or material of the work. Heart of Glass supports a wide range of projects deeply rooted with the local community, whether a 10-year residency or one-day parade, they provide the space and opportunity for artists and community to connect.

To reflect their new national status and to help build greater brand recognition, they commissioned True North to evolve their brand. 

"Our new brand positioning recognises the power of the collective" says Senior Design, Victoria Pinnington. "Through collaborative art, Heart of Glass provide opportunities for creatives, cultures and local communities to connect, to begin conversations and spark new ideas".


At the heart of the brand is a geometric shape that takes subtle cues from the glass heritage of St. Helens, and that reflecting the art created by moving and responding to its surroundings. "This enabled us to build a dynamic brand identity that flexes to tell different stories – whether creating a focus on the local community of St. Helens, social issues or artists".


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.


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. 


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."


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.



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!”

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