Managing Change From Niche To Mainstream
Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, has been working on practical projects since 1977 to encourage people to walk, cycle and use public transport to reduce traffic and its adverse effects. It aims to achieve its mission through a number of focused projects, the flagship of which is The National Cycle Network (NCN), over 12,000 miles of people friendly paths.
Grown out of the public sector, the environmental movement and the passion of ardent cyclists, Sustrans had a niche appeal but a mainstream sustainability message that was struggling to reach its audience.
Most of the Sustrans team is from an engineering or charity background, so they are not communications experts. They had previously been doing their marketing in-house and there was some internal resistance to using the services of a marketing agency.
To help convince the Sustrans management team that change was needed, we used consumer research to highlight key issues. Specifically, we helped them understand that their existing brand was geeky not cool, dull not inspiring and a niche positioning that was not accessible to the mainstream audience.
We re-branded Sustrans to create a new brand identity, logo, strapline, photo library, messaging and tone of voice, to take the brand from niche to mainstream.
The internal sell would have to work throughout the organisation, so we created a series of Brand Vision presentations and an induction programme for the marketing team who would oversee the re-branding programme.
We also created a brand style guide for online and offline use as well as creative ideas and new photography for advertising campaigns, direct mail and press inserts, online banners and website content.
Promotional items such as branded merchandise have also been created as well as referral campaigns, web micro-sites, newsletters and annual reports. We were also involved in campaigns for Change Your World, Safe Routes to Schools and the National Cycle Network.
These brand changes have re-positioned Sustrans as a cool, inspirational brand with mainstream appeal, and this has helped increase membership and raise the brand's profile with businesses and consumer audiences.
These changes have meant that Sustrans can capitalise on the growing interest in cycling and sustainability, helping them to win the People’s £50 Million Lottery Prize and a Green Award for Best Advertising Campaign.
The best result is that these much talked about campaigns allowed Sustrans to celebrate its 30th Anniversary with a record number of members 'joining the movement'.