British Heart Foundation

Helping to beat the world’s biggest killers

Heart and circulatory diseases kill 1 in 3. They claim 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 British Heart Foundation raises money to fund life saving research into the world’s biggest killers. But people don’t see it that way. There are many misconceptions about heart and circulatory diseases that inhibit the likelihood to donate. Many don’t understand what they are or how serious they are , and the technical language doesn’t help. Despite incredibly high brand awareness, there was a lack of understanding about the vital role of the BHF and consideration to give was falling and low compared to their peer charities. In 2016, we began working together to create greater understanding of the amazing work it does and, ultimately, raise more money to save more lives.

Creating urgency around a vital cause 

Fundamentally, we reframed heart disease - which didn’t drive significant consideration to gift - to include other circulatory diseases - vascular dementia, strokes and the risk factors like diabetes.  BHF actively invests in research in all these areas as the underlying issues are the same - yet these have greater poignancy, jeopardy and relevance for more people. 

Together with leadership from across the organisation, we defined a flexible, outcome-focused proposition: to ‘beat heartbreak forever’.  Demonstrating the BHF’s involvement in a fuller range of conditions and inviting people to get involved. We also created a fearless creative expression to live up to this bold proposition: ‘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. We needed a statement of intent to make the bold proposition and creative expression real.  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 global program encourages the best minds to further their ground-breaking research to unlock huge breakthroughs.

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. Building on this, we also helped the BHF launch their first massive, open, online course on the Future Learn platform. This course is designed to educate the nation around heart and circulatory diseases and encourage conversation around the vital topic which is often ignored.

Lasting change, internally and externally

The BHF ‘consideration to give’ metric has reached its highest level ever - increasing by 17 points in just 12 months. Internally, the BHF has seen a fourfold increase in confidence amongst employees talking about what it does and how it presents itself.  And two years in, Brand Vue named the British Heart Foundation as the second most valuable charity in the UK at £1.2bn. 

In July, the BHF launched a new campaign by Mullen Lowe called ‘it starts with your heart’.  The campaign built on the emotional brand proposition with great impact. Trust in the BHF rose to #2 in the sector, consideration to leave a legacy saw an uplift of 25%, the MOOC  course completion rate is three times higher than the industry average and  85% of learners had positive learning experiences.

Most importantly, this demonstrates that with the right message, people do believe that the BHF’s research is vital and relevant and are happy to contribute to its success. 

  • More than a 1/3 of UK would now consider giving to the BHF 
  • The 2nd most valuable charity in the UK, by Brand Vue
  • 8,000 learners have enrolled into the course
  • Course completion rate is 3x higher than average
  • 85% of learners had a positive experience
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