Clear Defendable Territory
How do you bring people together to make a real difference?

With all the conversations about charity rebrands at the moment, we were excited to sit down with Chantal Payne, who heads up marketing and branding at Prostate Cancer UK. For anyone curious to understand how important a strong brand story is, look no further.

Prostate Cancer UK may still be considered a newcomer in the charity landscape, but over its decade-long journey, it has achieved remarkable milestones. From forging high-profile partnerships and spearheading ground-breaking research, to raising awareness of the nation’s most common cancer in men. It has made a tangible difference to the lives of thousands of individuals and their families, every year.

After so much early success, the time had come for the next stage of its evolution. Its start-up mentality had taken the organisation as far as it could, but its internal values and behaviours had become unwieldy and unused. We worked together to refresh the brand inside and out and realign everyone across the organisation to lay the foundations for the next phase of growth.

Now, a year later, we caught up with Chantal to find out why she feels a strong brand isn’t a luxury investment, but an essential one.

 

- This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity –

 

Q: How do you see the impact of today’s challenging environment (the cost-of-living crisis, global conflicts) on charities and what can they do to respond?

Chantal: In the charity world, you're asking for money while seemingly giving nothing in return. That’s obviously not the case. Charities offer value, albeit in different ways than in the commercial sector. But to do that, they must demonstrate the change they are creating – even more so in the current landscape.

Merely highlighting problems without providing any answers does nothing more than create anxiety in people’s minds. If we want to make society – or individuals' lives – better, we must communicate impact clearly. This changes the narrative to one of positivity and hope.

As a charity we have a different role to both the public and private sector. We’re not here to just criticise the status quo; we have that sweet spot and responsibility of doing something about it. Otherwise, we’re just adding to the noise.

 

Q: For its size, Prostate Cancer UK has relatively high awareness and has always punched above its weight. What was the strategic need to invest in the brand?

Chantal: We already had a great awareness comparative to our size, especially from our work in sport (particularly football), and a lot of people ‘know’ us because of our pin badges or having received fantastic support from our specialist nurses – or by using our healthcare information. But we need more people to know we’re more than just that. It’s about changing the status quo, because 12,000 men are dying from prostate cancer every year. That’s unacceptable - and we’re doing something about it. That’s why we need more people to know about Prostate Cancer UK and the brand gives us that licence to be more pointed and talk about the importance of this work.

We have a greater ambition to fundamentally transform how prostate cancer is diagnosed and save men’s lives and that’s only achievable through people power, translating our awareness into a movement of supporters and beneficiaries. Prostate cancer is a national story, affecting many families, and we needed an ‘active’ brand to give us the momentum to reach, engage and rally more people to get involved; starting with clarifying and refocusing why we exist and what we’re here to achieve.

That’s what we needed our brand to do for us: something that lives beyond the people that are currently here and provides a clear path forward for men today and future generations, which acts as the north star for decision-making. It's about finding our unique edge and creating an emotional connection that unites everything we do.

 

Q: It’s been exactly a year since the brand launch, in what ways has the new direction been helpful and how is it driving the key strategic objectives at Prostate Cancer UK?

Chantal:  Going back to that away day when we launched our new brand last May, one of our team members said, "When I joined a year ago, I was excited to be part of the team and understood what we were doing. Today I understand why.” That's exactly what we've been aiming for. It has given everyone a real feeling as to why they should come to work every day, which is particularly important in an organisation like ours where purpose drives everything.

We’ve rolled the brand into our training and conversations. We’re talking to people about our brand values as part of the hiring process, objective reviews, and how people are living the brand and experiencing it. It’s becoming a compass for decision-making, helping us assess and decide whether a particular activity aligns with what we stand for. For example, our promise to ‘leave no man behind’ has progressed conversations about how we better talk with, listen to and support Black men who have an increased risk of prostate cancer.

The development of the core brand has since allowed us to build an external communications strategy, allowing us to determine when and how the brand shows up with external audiences. How we flex to inspire, motivate, and engage more people. But, equally, still be a voice of reassurance when men and families are facing difficult decisions in their prostate cancer journey. We’re asking questions about how we build awareness and trust, but not just for vanity’s sake – rather to deliver impact for men. And it’s all rooted in our purpose and promise.

We know there's still a journey ahead, but we're moving in the right direction. As an organisation we’re working towards brand not just being a department or team but shaping and supporting every aspect of the organisation

 

Q: What advice would you give to other charities on why they should invest in developing a strong brand story and define their own Clear Defendable Territory?

Chantal: Investing in a unified brand is crucial because when you bring together diverse individuals and expertise, it's not always clear why the organisation exists. So, it helps to have an agreed-upon version of the truth – a common ground that unites everyone and makes us more than just the sum of our parts.

Having this narrative aligns everyone, from top-level directors to volunteers, ensuring consistency and complementary planning rather than conflicting strategies. A strong brand synthesises a clear purpose and role for the organisation, providing a focal point for everyone to rally behind.

 

It’s safe to say that investing in your brand is not a choice to be made lightly – especially in the current climate. It demands careful consideration, meticulous planning, and a steadfast dedication to the core values and mission that form the foundation of your charity.

However, a strong rebrand has the power to revitalise your charity's identity and reignite support and enthusiasm for your cause, both inside and outside your organisation.