When the UK’s two leading charities specialising in supporting people living with Spinal Muscular Atrophy – The SMA Trust and Spinal Muscular Atrophy UK – decided to merge, there was the inevitable need to unify the name and identity of the organisation. After a false start with another agency, the newly formed Spinal Muscular Atrophy UK approached us to help drive the project forward, based on our track record in the sector.
Both organisations had a loyal supporter and user base which the SMA UK were keen to maintain and build upon. It was, therefore, important to retain as much of the individual brands’ DNA as possible, while at the same creating a strong new identity that would stand the test of time and help the organisation increase its visibility.
During the early stages of the project, SMA UK undertook a research project with their existing supporters, mindful of the need to carry forward as many people as possible. Supporters told us that, although vital, clinical research is more of a concern at a later stage with the practical and emotional support being the initial area of concern. They felt the SMA Trust’s chromosome logo, was more clinical, a bit colder, but still positively progressive. They also pointed out that genetic imagery is regularly used for a range of other ‘brands’ – from medical conditions to genome analysis – and thus isn’t very distinctive.
Families of children with SMA told us that after the initial diagnosis, when they had been looking for an organisation to help, a caring, nurturing feel was key. The SMA Support UK ‘koru’ logo worked for them, with its softer lines, described by some as looking like it’s cradling and supporting.
In conclusion, SMA UK didn’t want to see us start again with a complete re-brand of the organisation. Rather, they wanted to see an evolution of what went before, a respect for the amazing work already completed by both charities.
After several iterations, together with SMA UK, we settled on a highly simplified ‘koru’ logomark. With strong enough links to original that we retained the familiarity, the revised logomark offers a distinctive form which now works well at all sizes, from signage to mobile apps. The hand-drawn nature of the logo reflects something of the humanity of the brand, as well as the unpredictable nature of the journey.
Typography and colour
The typography choices of Terry Junior and Poppins both reinforce the brand personality and values, and offer an easy way to unify communications. We selected Poppins for long-form copy for both its clarity, range of weights and styles, and because it is available under an Open Font Licence, meaning the organisation could use it on all of its computers without the need for costly licencing agreements – an important consideration for a cost-conscious not-for-profit.
The colour scheme what chosen principally for its personality, but also as a way to tie the identity back to the previous two organisations. SMA Trust utilised a similar blue and SMA Support UK used a variety of pinky-reds.