The British Heart Foundation was set up in the sixties to fund research into the causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of heart and circulatory diseases. Things have come a long way, but they still kill more people than any other cause in the world, claiming a life in the UK every three minutes. That’s waiting for the kettle to boil. That’s sitting through an ad break. These diseases are beatable, but this requires funding for vital research into treatments and cures.

The team are operating in a tough, competitive environment. Economic uncertainty has forced more people to tighten their belts, and any public scrutiny on a single charity tends to hit the entire sector.

More specifically, there are misconceptions about heart and circulatory diseases – both what they are and how serious they are, and the technical language around them doesn’t help. Despite incredibly high brand awareness, there was a lack of understanding about the BHF itself, with many people only associating the brand with heart attacks and heart health. All of this inhibits the likelihood to donate.

Finding a solution
As we learnt more, we were amazed to see the extent of the extraordinary work the BHF is involved in. It funds research into all heart and circulatory diseases, including strokes and vascular dementia, and their risk factors like diabetes. We were also amazed that all these diseases are connected, and this gave us plenty to work with.

Working with leadership from across the organisation, together we defined a new, flexible, outcome-focused proposition: to ‘beat heartbreak forever’. This demonstrates the BHF’s involvement in a fuller range of conditions and invites people to get involved, either for the cause or for a loved one.

With a more focused, ambitious vision (a world without heart and circulatory diseases), we needed a statement of intent. Working with the Medical Director, we helped define The Big Beat Challenge, a research moonshot offering ‘£30m for the world’s greatest to tackle the world’s biggest killers’. This program encourages the best minds to further their ground-breaking research to unlock huge breakthroughs.

Expression and education
To ensure that the brand conveyed the organisation’s dynamism, and lived up to its future-facing proposition, we created a fearless creative expression for it. It had to work across a huge range of applications, from live events and digital channels, to health information and built environments. With the brand enjoying high awareness and a strong retail presence, we were keen to build on its existing strengths. Our creative idea became, ‘the big beat’.

It’s built around a pulsing and flowing motion, with the logo representing both a heartbeat and the rush of blood through the body. The headline typeface – BHF Beats, which was inspired by the Pulse logo and designed by F37 – as well as the icons and imagery reflect this.

We designed an internal training programme, Talk BHF, to equip the organisation and its frontline volunteers with the new proposition to focus their storytelling and the knowledge to explain how these deadly diseases work. Results have been encouraging, with high participation and a fourfold increase in confidence amongst employees talking about what the BHF does and how it presents itself.

Building on this success, we also helped the BHF launch their first massive, open, online course on the Future Learn platform. It’s a free course that’s designed to promote knowledge that can save lives. It educates people about heart and circulatory diseases and their effect on the body, and explains how pioneering research is taking us closer to a world without them.

The race is on
The brand has been rolled out quickly and smartly. Highlights include new retail spaces and a London to Brighton bike ride.

The website, launched using the new brand expression, has shown a 7% increase in visitors year-on-year, and an increase in one-off donations of 26%.

In July, the BHF launched a new 60 second campaign by Mullen Lowe  called ‘it starts with your heart’.  Trust in the BHF rose to 2nd in the sector, above CRUK for the first time. Even more encouraging, ‘consideration to give’ rose faster than it had done before – and to its highest ever ranking.

Consideration to leave a legacy in a will saw an uplift in 25% during the campaign period. And most importantly, weekly general donations through retail rose 76% in the first week, showing that with the right message, people do believe that the BHF’s research is vital and relevant.

Here’s what the Chief Executive, Simon Gillespie, had to say about the work:

With an ambitious proposition, a confident expression, a focused organisation, a free course to encourage millions to talk about how to beat the world’s biggest killers, and early signs of a direct impact on fundraising efforts, the race to beat heartbreak forever is well underway.