The word ‘cancer’ used to make people uncomfortable. It was discussed behind closed doors, and relief organisations only connected with patients inside surgeries and hospitals.

Macmillan were best-known for their nurses and the end-of-life care they provided. Their behaviour and communications felt institutional, which limited their scope.

But the landscape in the UK was changing. Relationships between charities and their supporters had evolved and it was becoming clear that the 2 million+ affected by cancer could benefit from social, practical support. There was potential for a radical shift.

From relief to support
We made the case that we all need to play a part in the solution to cancer, and in this context, Macmillan wasn’t simply about ‘cancer relief’ for patients. It could be an everyday source of support for anyone affected by the disease.

If Macmillan were to become truly ‘everyday’, they had to find a place within our daily lives. They needed a presence in schools, in workplaces, on the high street and online. We created an expression that would inspire participation from these places. It would feel personal and immediate, rather than institutional.

Getting into shape
In beginning to enable those living with cancer to provide support for each other, Macmillan faced a big challenge. We helped them build capabilities and select the right agency partners. We created an open access making site for supporters, Be.Macmillan, where they could design professional quality materials.

We coached all levels, up to the CEO, to own and live the change. Macmillan’s in-house design team spent weeks at our offices, and our experience principles guided ongoing work.

“The new brand helped us to recruit excellent fundraisers from across all sectors”

Lynda Thomas, Director of Fundraising, Macmillan

Realising the strategy
Within two years of the rebrand Macmillan’s fundraising had defied the recession, increasing by £26 million – a 6% year-on-year growth. They were helping far more people, in more places, than ever before: website visitors had doubled; callers to the Macmillan Support Line increased by 35%; and 50% more people had found the benefits they were entitled to.

Recruiting became easier: one in two people interviewed cited the brand as a reason for their interest, and its relevance led to a groundbreaking partnership with Boots, delivering cancer services on every high street in the UK.

Macmillan revolutionized the way Macmillan supports their volunteer community. There are 40,000 regular users and content templates have grown ten-fold, saving marketing spend and empowering an army of fundraisers.

“We became a completely different organisation, with a much more dynamic and can-do attitude”

Hilary Cross, Director of External Affairs, Macmillan

While this wasn’t all the direct result of the rebrand, the work undoubtedly helped to provide the platform for a more self-assured and assertive organisation.