Behind the scenes with UnitedUs: A brand new future
We approached award-winning strategic design agency, UnitedUs, to rebrand Cambridge Healthcare Research’s portfolio of brands, including creating the identity for our strategic competitive intelligence division as we reposition CHR for future growth.
We caught up with UnitedUs Strategy Partner, Natalie Burns to find out more about how our new brands will enable us to realise our growth ambitions.
Perhaps the best place for us to start off is right at the beginning. What was your impression of the brief when we first reached out to UnitedUs?
Right from the start, it was clear that Cambridge Healthcare Research had its sights aimed high. The brief articulated a burgeoning and ambitious business at a significant time of growth, and that really captivated us. Scaling the organisation during lockdown and hoping to attract and retain top industry talent, we were delighted to join forces to deliver brands that would accelerate CHR towards its goals.
We’ve worked with many organisations who find themselves in this moment of change, where visions are crystallising and the business around it needs to professionalise itself ready to achieve those goals. Fundamentally, we know that a great brand is simply the compelling articulation of your business strategy – it’s the creative glue that compels people to believe in your direction.
Can you share more about the house of brands model and what does that mean for our brand identities?
Absolutely. Implementing the house of brands model, sometimes referred to as a family of brands (think P&G and all its owned brands from Pampers to Vicks), enables each entity to benefit from a clearly differentiated message and positioning, targeted to their unique audiences. Unlike P&G, Cambridge Healthcare Research is – not yet – a multinational organisation, so implementing this approach requires smart thinking around design implementation and efficiency. We wanted each brand to have its own identity, but to also ensure that it wasn’t cumbersome to implement and crucially, that the team could easily see and identify the benefits and shared ethos of the CHR group.
This is where a strong brand architecture is needed to organise and effectively communicate individual brands. Across CHR, Solici and Vox.Bio, there are shared foundational elements between the brand identities, so from an implementation perspective there’s a common design language.
Through the development of these three distinct brand identities that are guided by a unifying message, we were able to better communicate the specialist services of your business.
How did you land on this unifying message, and what was it?
Whenever we spoke to your clients and colleagues in our research, it became apparent that knowledge is the cornerstone of Cambridge Healthcare Research. The way you apply knowledge across all of your divisions is super-power that sets you apart from other healthcare consultancies. It’s this ‘power of knowing’ that served as the unifying brand thread.
From this guiding ethos, we were able to craft strategic and pinpointed messages for each brand. We think of the unifying message as a mantra that enables people to all pull together in the right direction.
What are the most critical parts of building a brand?
We launched the CHR house of brands on our first day back to the studio in 2023. Three brands in one day… It was a busy start to the year!
As you can imagine, there was so much that went into and came out of this project. In reality, it was the result of a considered and strategic relationship with CHR senior management. The full project consisted of phases of strategic research, creative ideation, brand development and technical execution.
Our strategic work directly and continuously fed into the creative. And as we built the brands, our development work ensured that digital environments provided seamless brand experiences.
We created messaging structures, tone of voice and visual identities across the house of brands. This included a full suite of brand assets and guidelines for CHR teams to access, as well as three unique websites to showcase the brand in digital environments.
Cambridge Healthcare Research and Vox.Bio already had established brands, but their identities required updating in line with the ‘power of knowing’ ethos. And of course, the newly named strategic competitive intelligence division, Solici, also needed its own identity.
Could you cast some light on the Solici brand?
Sure! The metaphor of illumination is fundamental to Solici, so much so that we crafted the brand strapline as ‘bringing opportunity to light.’
To identify a name for the new brand, we held a workshop with the team. Facilitating this session, we helped the team land on a moniker that they could all really get behind, and own. A name imbued with a shared understanding of the business. A name in which brand equity could be built.
Inspired by the latin word for sun, ‘solis’, we incorporated the competitive intelligence acronym (CI) as a suffix. We believe that Solici is the name that will become a guiding light in the industry category of strategic competitive intelligence for healthcare and life sciences.
Using the ‘O’ from Solici as a graphic device, we were able to frame specific photography styles to punctuate the brand, using it as a device to ‘illuminate’ and ‘look beyond’.
How much did collaboration play a part in the project’s success?
Collaboration is really important to the success of any brand project, and especially one of this scale. Naturally, working with ambitious teams across three brands is going to have lots of stakeholders. This requires strong management and partnership from both the client and agency.
Our UnitedUs mantra ‘uniting people, purpose and potential’ really came into sharp focus as all parties involved – in-house and external teams – pulled in the same direction to achieve this ambitious rebrand. Throughout our relationship, consistent communication ensured everyone was brought in on the brand journey, steering the future of CHR brands in the right direction.
There’s nothing quite like getting round the table in the same place, but it’s important that if that can’t happen, that stakeholders are all still informed and updated as the project progresses. And as the bulk of the research, strategy and conceptual phase of work was completed during varying stages of COVID-19 lockdowns, we delivered frequent project update videos, had weekly progress calls with CHR’s marketing partner and delivered remote brand training to CHR teams.
It was crucial that we were finding the best ways to foster the partnership and feel like a collaborative team despite travel restrictions and not being able to physically meet. For both parties, the video updates were a great way of achieving that. So much so that when we finally met face to face in the CHR offices in London, it was as if we’d already been in a room together many times before.
As the project moved towards the implementation stage, we ensured the team were just as prepared. From brand management walk-throughs that explain how to correctly use elements from the visual identity, to CMS training that taught teams how to manage their websites, all members of CHR teams were able to communicate their new brands.
Once the brands go live, what’s next?
As with any brand post-launch, the importance of continuing to grow in line with the business strategy will be the difference between success and failure.
Just as you review and improve other operational tactics across your business, whether that’s targeting new clients or retaining staff, the brand needs to do the same.
We are delighted to form a close partnership that enables us to continue the work of iterating, aligning and improving the effectiveness of our brands. Right now, we are working with CHR to deliver a range of creative communications, from designing conference experiences and exhibition stands to producing custom book covers.
The ambition of Cambridge Healthcare Research is unquestionable, and we’re always energised to support you in being the trusted partner for every healthcare decision maker.
We’d like to say a huge thank you to UnitedUs for building our unified house of brands, creating brand identities that help us realise our business growth ambitions.