McKinsey & Company
Partnering for impact ➞
Partnering for impact ➞
Helping interactive investor start the fight for financial independence ➞
Helping to beat the world's biggest killers ➞
Building a brand for how the world moves, today and tomorrow ➞
Setting a new standard in personal health ➞
Creating a human face for Artificial Intelligence ➞
Celebrating the idea of making ➞
Empowering girls to change their lives ➞
Shaking up the healthcare system for good ➞
Creating a new services brand to double share of the tech support market ➞
Reengineering a brand to create a platform for growth in the UAE ➞
Partnering to address an invisible global emergency ➞
Shaping a new, participatory era for a critical industry ➞
Creating a language for the Internet of Things ➞
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.
Driven by the conviction that having more information about their fertility gives people greater control and more options, Modern Fertility founders Afton and Carly built a direct-to-consumer at-home test. It’s the same one offered in many fertility clinics, but it comes at a fraction of the cost and results are easy for anyone to understand.
“Information makes us powerful , especially when that information is ours to begin with.”Afton Vechery, CEO and Co-Founder
A path to growth
As part of the growing femtech and personalized medicine sector, Modern Fertility wanted to signal a fundamental shift in democratizing health information, as opposed to just delivering tech-enabled convenience.
This required breaking taboos around the topic, reframing fertility as an integral part of overall health, and transforming it into something proactive rather than reactive. It meant humanizing the overly clinical impersonal aesthetic that dominates healthcare.
Also, as a startup seeking additional funding, Modern Fertility needed their brand to convey a powerful value proposition and dynamic path to growth.
“Early stage startups are just different. We make big bets and we make them quickly.
Wolff Olins took that in its stride without sacrificing the integrity of the design. The design system we built together will grow with us into the future.”Carly Leahy, CCO and Co-Founder
Open to everyone
The brand needed to feel inclusive for a broad range of users and circumstances: women wanting to preserve their options, but not yet ready to have children, same sex-partners making decisions about fertility treatment, and couples struggling to conceive. It had to exist as an intimate community, open to everyone.
The visual language is an intentional departure from healthcare’s dated graphic devices. The ‘M’ mark is hand-drawn – calligraphic rather than mechanical – to convey trust and invite exploration. A fluid ‘u’ is buttressed by strong vertical lines to emphasize a focus on the individual, and reinforce Modern Fertility’s role in supporting people through their fertility journey.
The gender-neutral design is anchored in a color palette of tans and blues, echoing skin and sky tones and symbolic of bodies and moments of reflection.
The decision to move away from photography sets the brand apart from the prevailing visual language in women’s health. Instead, organic shapes and illustrations represent the singular moments people experience when considering fertility.
Scaling a startup
Modern Fertility initially secured $1 million in funding from famed venture capitals firms First Round Capital, Box Group and Y Combinator. It saw $70,000 in orders at the initial brand launch and received extensive press coverage including in TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and Refinery29.
Nothing is more certain in American life than death, taxes and medical bills. And those bills are generally the biggest source of pain. Burgess is a health-tech pioneer producing the software that will address this.
Founder Greg Burgess is obsessed with improving the accurate payment of medical claims, and he called us as he was preparing the release of an ambitious new product – one that could become the industry standard across the USA.
Having the best product in this field, however, doesn’t guarantee success. The sales cycle is long, cloud based technologies risk being misunderstood and inaccurate comparisons can undermine true value. ‘Big players’ occupy a disproportionate amount of mindshare, and the industry’s beset by inertia, misinformation and mistrust. Buyers often stick with what they have, even if it performs poorly, because change has been hard in the past.
We were brought on board to overcome these barriers, create a new space and ultimately reduce the crippling administrative burden and billions of dollars wasted.
Only by connecting deeply to people across the healthcare landscape, not just the purchasers of the software, would Burgess be able to cut through industry norms and establish a new standard. And only by redesigning the entire customer and employee experience could it occupy a unique position – as a partner and provider of a platform, rather than a vendor.
We started by developing a purpose that would set the agenda: to help healthcare keep its promises. Focussing on this idea, rather than product benefits, elevated the ambition and encouraged long-term thinking.
Building on this, we created a vibrant, adaptive, digital-first design system that unified product, sales, and marketing efforts. Among the elements was a new device which we called ‘the knot’. It’s a visual representation of a promise kept – the aspiration at the heart of the organization.
We designed a series of tools and experiences that embodied the purpose. With Sales & Marketing leaders, we built a new website, conference presence, content strategy and sales tools that were well received by clients.
With the product team, we collaborated on a user-friendly interface, product demos, the Burgess Source brand and materials to bring it to market. And with HR & Operations, we developed recruiting processes, internal rituals and training materials to energise and equip employees.
“The work was instrumental in our success over the past year – fuelling a high-impact product launch, getting us recognized as a unique player in healthcare, and inspiring our people internally.
It was the best experience I’ve had working with a partner. Their ambition and enthusiasm was contagious, and drove significant outcomes for our business.”Greg Burgess, CEO and Head of Product
In less than one year, Burgess has already defined a new space in the industry. It’s attracting talent from top tech companies, and has a reinvigorated, entrepreneurial team.
Its Source platform has hit success hard and early. Sales are up in volume and value, there’s more conversation and conversion, and adoption is far faster than forecast.
Beyond sales, it’s attracting the attention of industry leaders, commentators and investors. With a clear story and supercharged experience, it’s one to watch, to work for and to buy. We’re excited to watch it grow and drive progress in the American healthcare industry.
Some founders would be satisfied with helping millions of people get easier access to doctors. But Zocdoc CEO Oliver Kharraz and his team have bolder ambitions; their sights are on transforming the relationship we have with healthcare forever.
Today, tech-first company Zocdoc helps millions of Americans find neighbourhood specialists, book appointments instantly and cut the form-filling. From day 1, eight years ago, the patient has sat at the centre of the offer. The platform is also loved by doctors, enabling them to spend less time on admin and more on care.
With 600 employees and a recent valuation of the company at $1.8 billion, the Zocdoc team wanted to use their scale to go further. They want to help patients connect across a fragmented landscape and become a trusted centre of care – the digital heart of the experience.
“The new face of Zocdoc looks the way healthcare should – friendly, simple, and most of all, reflective of patients and real life”Richard Fine, VP Marketing, Zocdoc
Out went a desktop-focused experience led by cartoon-like characters and a user flow focused solely on efficiency. In its place, we put forward a responsive, mobile-first experience.
Graphically, the design is a marked departure from sector norms. The warm, yellow-led colour palette is optimistic in feel. Instead of corporate shields and crosses, we created Zee – a line drawing of a dynamic letter Z with eyes, evoking an ever-changing face.
By subtly responding to situations in a human way, Zee helps patients feel like their journey is understood, and a true-to-life photographic style mirrors patients’ day-to-day lives. Taken together, and unlike any peer, the visual elements create the impression that Zocdoc is completely designed around patient needs.
“It combines the friendliness and aesthetics of Airbnb with the functionality of OpenTable and a dose of its own take on these new visual standards”UnderConsideration
Everyone played with and tested the system out in different use cases, and critically, real patients were brought into the conversation at an early stage. They were key to the decision-making process, and ultimately chose the most radical solution. Feedback loops between us and the end users provided a basis for swift improvements.
With an experience designed to match their bold human vision, Zocdoc is now a better partner to millions of patients, and puts them in control of their own health.
“The Virgin brand gives us a license to be unconventional. With the Grid we’ve created something exciting for members, unlike anything else”Tim Carter, Group Brand Director, Virgin Active
Next up, The Pack
Following our work on The Grid, Virgin Active challenged us to develop a group cycle product for worldwide launch. With huge potential for integrating live performance data, the already popular format needed a revamp.
We looked at the opportunity from four different perspectives: the users, the market, the product and the business strategy. Our analysis showed that exercise is more rewarding when there’s a shared purpose, yet the Group Cycle experience, despite playing out in the proximity of other people, was essentially solitary. The new product would change this. It would be based on a simple concept, ‘together we ride’, and pit teams against each other.
From concept to experience
We partnered with Virgin Active’s marketing, technology and fitness teams to design the overall user experience. Rather than lean towards the pro-performance racers, we designed for the fun-loving ‘Exertainer’ audience, and created challenges with a typically Virgin flavour – Sumo, Speed Freaks, Hold the Line and Big Burnout.
With concepts in place, we needed to think about how it would play out in the studio. We explored the technical architecture of the fitness product and established the capabilities of the environment, working closely with Virgin Active’s design team and partners, including Deloitte Digital, Hutchisons and Horare Lea.
“I am really proud of the product. There are so many complex parts that we’ve managed to pull together smoothly, resulting in an exceptional experience”Dael Williamson, Head of Enterprise Architecture, Virgin Active Europe
In a short period of time, we delivered a breadth of work with a single multidisciplinary team covering strategy and concepts, visual, interaction, game and environment design, software development, IT infrastructure planning, and go-to-market creative. Crucial to this process was the ability to work draw on the expertise of specialist Virgin Active teams.
The Pack was rolled out in eight Virgin Active clubs in May 2016, before riding into gyms across the world to change group exercise for good.
“Working with Wolff Olins, we have created a unique product which harnesses the fun and team spirit that’s so much a part of Virgin Active”Clare Gambardella, Chief Marketing Officer, Virgin Active Europe
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.
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.