Q&A: Tamsyn Clark, director of marketing, Cystic Fibrosis Trust

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust today (26 March 2013) launches its new logo, strategy and website. Director of marketing Tamsyn Clark speaks to Lucy Handley about the charity’s first rebrand in 20 years.

CF Trust

Marketing Week (MW): Why is the Cystic Fibrosis Trust rebranding now?

Tamsyn Clark (TC): Over the last four or five years, we have had a dip in our income and our awareness has dropped over that period. To offset that trend we knew we had to respond quite quickly to compete in a competitive charity marketplace.

Although our awareness among the cystic fibrosis (CF) community is good, we think that could be better and we need to penetrate further into the wider public with our issue.

We researched our audiences to see what their thoughts were on the CF Trust. That told us that in some ways that the CF Trust brand neither helped nor hindered fundraising; that we didn’t speak loudly enough in the wider domain; that the knowledge of CF was still pretty low – ‘pitifully low’ was one of the phrases given to me.

We had been trying to fundraise for a piece of [clinical] research and it became very apparent that we were really struggling in the wider marketplace to generate interest in our cause. There was such low awareness to the point that people think CF is catching – there was a real misunderstanding about what it is.

MW: Can you provide an overview of what CF is?

TC: It is difficult to describe, which is one of our challenges. It is [carried genetically] and is a distressful condition which includes lung damage, malnutrition, diabetes and liver disease, and a host of issues that can affect people because of the impact on the lungs. It is a debilitating disease where patients have to take a cocktail of drugs, have physio and there is regular need to be hospitalisedas well.

If someone is born today with CF, they are not likely to last beyond the age of 41.

Our research tells us that people don’t understand what CF is and part of our brand positioning is to be very honest about that.

MW: The CF Trust wants to be a more ‘action oriented’ brand. Can you explain?

TC:We want to be more than an organisation that just exists within our own marketplace; we want people to feel that there is an energy behind us to do more than we have done before. There is an excitement worldwide in research terms and we want to demonstrate to our audience that we genuinely believe that CF is beatable and it comes back to the fact that this is a hugely exciting time in research terms for CF.

We took a stance and decided to present the brand in an eye-catching and direct way. Without scaremongering, we are being very factual about the condition, by explaining for example, thatpeople with it will potentially only live to their 40thbirthday. There are two million people who carry the gene [and so their children could be born with the disease].

A lot of charities are very cosy in their language and we wanted to be a lot more direct about the huge burden that CF has and why we are here to beat the disease and make a daily difference.

For example, before Christmas we were part of a campaign to get funding for Kalydeco, a drug that is needed for certain people, and we were successful in securing that. Being heard is also a statement in our new positioning.

MW: You have played on the last two letters of cystic fibrosis in your new advertising to create the strapline ‘cystic fibrosis is…’. Can you explain the idea?

TC: The brand agency Johnson Banks identified the ‘is’ part of cystic fibrosis. Wehave developed this naming device to better explain and communicate the impact that CF has on people.

What we are doing is fighting for a better deal for those with the condition [there are 9,000 in the UK], so there will be different messages for different audiences, from supporters to politicians to staff.

Our main vehicle to drive awareness will be our website and we are driving our own supporters to the site where there will be a brand video to bring the ‘is’ concept alive, with people who have it talking about it, as well as those affected by it and clinicians all talking about what CF means to them.

We are also launching our research strategy at the end of April, then we have CF Week in June which is our major fundraising campaign, and we are focusing on lung transplants and awareness of them that week.

MW: What is your longer-term strategy?

TC: What we are going to do for the next three years – and the rebrand is all part of it – is to really invest in our fundraising. There will be more public-facing direct marketing strategies. We are exploring DRTV and door to door for later this year. We will be going to a ‘colder’ audience, using some of the more hard-hitting messages.

We think we can raise more money from our current audience. We already know from our supporter base within the community that we are not fully penetrating our own audience and we need to re-engage a lot of the people on our database.

We are looking to raise £10m by the end of 2015. Part of that will include some investment in major giving for our 50thanniversary next year.

Also, we are 75thon the Charity Brand Index, having dropped over the last few years. We are looking to enhance that significantly to be between 40 and 50.

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust is the Marketing Week Engage Awards 2013 charity partner. You can find out more about the charity via its website.

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