Clear Defendable Territory

Prostate Cancer UK

How do you engage men in a conversation they don’t want to be a part of?

How do you engage men in a conversation they don’t want to be a part of?

Prostate Cancer UK is a relative newcomer to the cancer charity sector. But, driven for the past 10 years by an entrepreneurial start-up attitude, it has punched well above its weight, securing high-profile partnerships, investing millions in ground-breaking research and raising awareness of what can be done to stop 12,000 men dying from prostate cancer every year in the UK.

Its unapologetically male brand stood out in campaigns – but it was designed for fundraising, not supporting. In healthcare settings, the brand blended in, using the colours of the medical sector and a clinical approach to language and imagery. It also relied on stereotypes of masculinity, meaning it only resonated with one kind of man. The result was that it struggled to speak to key minority audiences like Black men.

With a visionary new CEO, and an ambitious new business strategy, there was a clear opportunity to refresh the brand inside and out and lay the foundations for the next phase of impactful growth. Its start-up mentality had taken the organisation as far as it could, but its internal values and behaviours had become unwieldy and unused. Our brief was to help the charity mature into the next stage of its development – to give it the firepower it needed to propel the organisation forward, inside and out. In particular, we needed to give it more emotional flex, and make sure it was motivating to all men, and their family and friends too.

Moving forward, together

Like most organisations, the charity has had a lot to focus on over the past few years, and its uniting brand philosophy had fallen by the wayside. It was time to put men back at the centre of every decision it makes. Working with a linguistic analytics agency, we found that the traditional ‘battle language’ of the sector doesn’t resonate with men with prostate cancer and their families. They don’t talk about ‘fighting’ it and ‘beating’ it, so much as navigating it, individually and collectively.

We integrated these journey-inspired language patterns across the entire brand, with an action-oriented brand promise to ‘Leave no man behind’. This meant moving away from images of isolated, anxious men to photography of men at their most diverse, looking positive, supported and full of warmth. And it meant using the direct but warm language real men use to talk about prostate cancer, just one person to another.

Reaching the people that matter

Prostate Cancer UK’s brand needs to reach a lot of varied audiences – from all men, Black men specifically, LGBTQ+ people, friends and families to government policy makers, healthcare professionals and the medical research community. We focused on making sure the brand speaks to, and builds trust with, all these audiences, with strategic and sometimes subtle updates to almost every part of the brand.

From its origins as a campaign brand, Prostate Cancer UK had built great equity in its logo and use of black and white, but these assets didn’t have the emotional stretch needed for communications about support, research or community. To resolve this, we rebalanced the logo but gave it more stand-out with simplified colours and a tight lock-up system.

To stand out in healthcare settings and speak to a wider audience, we removed the cold blue from the colour palette and added a range of warmer colours. We changed the font to one that had similar impact but more life in it. And we reimagined the charity’s ‘men characters’, to make them more human – moving away from a depersonalised representation of ‘a man’ by himself, to a group that authentically reflects men today. They now do anything real men would do: go for a bike ride, have a chat over a cuppa, fundraise in a funny outfit or simply stand hand in hand.

Prostate Cancer UK

People power true transformation

To embed the brand within the systems and the culture of the organisation, we defined Prostate Cancer UK’s culture and employer brand with a new set of transformative values and behaviours to help every colleague buy into it, and put men back at the heart of their work, every day.

It was important that the people working with the refreshed brand, believe in it. So we delivered a charity-wide training programme on the brand and tone of voice, to make sure everyone understands how it applies to their work, as well as the capabilities it gives them, while also helping them get behind the bigger picture.

Just getting started

Prostate Cancer UK’s refreshed brand is the key to the next steps in its strategic plan – to revolutionise prostate cancer testing, blaze a trail to a UK-wide screening programme, and help every man navigate this complex disease. We’re continuing to work together strategically and creatively, developing its recruitment approach to drive this transformation from the ground up.

Prostate Cancer UK
Prostate Cancer UK

The Clearing were awesome at understanding our organisation and synthesising that on paper. The process wasn’t about ripping up and starting again but capturing the essence of who we are and what we want to achieve and defining that clearly.

Chantal Payne – Head of Marketing & Brand Lead