Rebranding the Gannet


The BTO has long been associated with the Gannet, which has, in various guises, been its only logo since its foundation in 1933. But with changing times come a changing look to the UK's leading ornithological research charity. Here Jeff Baker, BTO Head of Marketing, and Graham Appleton, BTO Director of Communications, explain the need for change and the process involved.

Background to the rebrand

Over the last 12 months, we have been working with KSBR Brand Futures to collect information upon the way that the BTO is perceived — by members, volunteer surveyors and other birdwatchers. Surprisingly, for a fact-based organisation, this is the first time that we have solicited such opinions. There were some uncomfortable surprises: stuffy and not very inviting; many volunteers and members do not understand what we do; new volunteers feel unsupported; and the way we presented ourselves — especially through the use of the Gannet logo — was actively off-putting.

A small group of staff and BTO Council have used information from this qualitative research to develop the way we communicate the results of volunteer-based surveys and BTO science, with an increased focus on how both relate to bird conservation. This work is reflected in the new website, designed by Communications Manager, Laura Smith, at www.bto.org. It is possible that you might still see the old page due to technical problems with the hosting company, which we hope will be resolved very soon.

One element of this change of approach is a completely new logo. At its heart is 'BTO' and to the right is a description of what we do — 'looking out for birds — both directly, through surveying, and indirectly, through the information we provide to conservation practitioners. We have worked with O'Connor Design Consultants to produce an image that is confident, fresh, active and memorable.

The new BTO website was launched today [8th December], the first BTO News with the new logo will appear in January and there will be a new look for BTO stands and displays at spring conferences. We plan to complete the changeover by the end of 2011.

How did we produce the new logo?

  • The brief for O'Connor Design Consultants was put together by two members of Council (Keith Betton and Bob Harris) and five staff (Andy Clements, Jeff Baker, Ieuan Evans, Laura Smith and Mike Toms), with advice from KSBR.
  • Ten different logos were created — interpreting the brief in a variety of ways — and the working group (as above) selected two. These were presented to Council in July.
  • After further work, and with extra input from Iain Downie, Kate Risely and Simon Gillings, there was one clear favourite.
  • KSBR worked with three external focus groups (members, volunteers and other birdwatchers) to investigate three logos (the two favourites and one other). The favoured logo came out top, across the board, being particularly warmly received by the group of current members.
  • Council agreed to change the logo on 13th October, after which the logo was shown to staff.

How much did this cost?

  • Council set aside £34,500 in the 2010/11 budget to deliver the new brand in all its guises — on the new website, templates for leaflets, designs for bulletins, display materials etc — and to test the logo. This is very good value for money. (It cost £200,000 to change the Parkinson's Disease Society into Parkinson's UK. Macmillan spent £120,000 on its rebrand in 2005, since when awareness has risen and income has increased from £97.7m to £118m.)
  • We expect to achieve a membership increase of about 7% this year, which already equates to a return on our investment in research of over £300,000, taking account of the average lifetime value of a member.
  • We have minimised expenditure by planning ahead. We hope that there will be very little wastage of stock or stationery.
  • As part of the package, we shall have new layouts for scheme newsletters etc — a development we have been awaiting for some years and a significant part of the cost.

Roll out

  • Andy Clements revealed the new logo on the Saturday of the BTO's Annual Conference.
  • The new website went live today [8th December] and an e-newsletter will follow the next week to drive traffic to the new website.
  • New stock will be added to the catalogue as soon as possible. We have been planning purchasing so that we can start to use the new look from 1st January. We shall not be wasteful though — some stock items will continue to carry the old logo.
  • Many of the Gannets, from the old logos, that feature within the BTO's HQ at The Nunnery will remain as part of our history, but we shall change signs etc.
  • The first BTO News with the new logo will appear in January and there will be a new look for BTO stands and displays at spring conferences. We plan to complete the changeover by the end of 2011.

Fiona Barclay, BirdGuides' Managing Director, commented: "This fresh new look and feel to the BTO really reflects the modern face of the organisation. These are exciting times and we're looking forward to working with the new, more accessible and modern BTO over the coming years."

The BTO's hosting company is currently experiencing severe technical difficulties, which may mean that you cannot currently see the rebranded site. We hope that this will be fixed very soon.
Written by: Graham Appleton and Jeff Baker