What is Cystic Fibrosis?

Johnson Banks has created a new ‘active’ brand identity system for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust which aims to explain what the disease is and how it affects people

Johnson Banks has created a new ‘active’ brand identity system for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust which aims to explain what the disease is and how it affects people

In February, Johnson Banks‘ Michael Johnson wrote a piece for this site looking at new thinking in the charity sector. Citing examples such as Macmillan, Parkinson’s UK and Action on Hearing Loss, Johnson explained that charity branding had become more ‘active’. These schemes, he said, are “blurring the lines between identity, branding, advertising and communications – the core brands remain central and become the launch pad for entire schemes, never pushed back into the corner and back to anonymity”.

Campaign launch film by Sebas and Clim

Much of this thinking appears to have informed Johnson Banks’ new work for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Their initial research revealed a common problem for charities with ‘medical’ or ‘technical’ names: “People aren’t clear what cystic fibrosis is or does, how they can or can’t catch it and what it means on a day-to-day basis”. “As the research stage progressed, we kept asking, but ‘what is it, exactly?’ and received a multitude of different responses,” Johnson Banks say.

Previous Cystic Fibrosis Trust logos




To counter this confusion and give the charity something around which to ‘activate’ its communications, Johnson Banks picked up on the last two letters of the disease, rather in the same way that Kessels Kramer’s I Amsterdam campaign worked. “We suggested the charity should activate the ‘is’ in their name with a series of statements, effectively forcing it to always explain what it is, does, and why they are here,”. Johnson Banks say.




Some of these statements are short and punchy, others go into more detail regarding the disease and its effects. “The Trust now has at least 40 sentences they can use, and we are adding to them continually. Like many charities they are short of funds and can’t afford big marketing campaigns, so this effectively makes everything they do part of one big ‘is’ campaign,” according to the studio.


Christopher Ball has shot a series of images of people with Cystic Fibrosis for the charity to use along with a ‘handwriting’ font by Nick Cooke. Several of the applications allow event posters and leaflets to be overwritten by hand by organisers.


Website (by Reading Room) and social media applications

As Johnson said in his piece for CR, these schemes are different from traditional identities. They are about providing the charities with a kit of tools which effectively drive campaigning. Every piece of communications can thus have this secondary but highly important role. The use of handwriting fonts has become something of a charity cliché but here it makes sense as the hope is that some communications will be handwritten by volunteers and campaigners. Charities who have already adopted such ‘active’ brand identities are reporting significant improvement in awareness and fundraising apparently so let’s hope this work has a similarly positive effect.



The April print issue of CR presents the work of three young animators and animation teams to watch. Plus, we go in search of illustrator John Hanna, test out the claims of a new app to have uncovered the secrets of viral ad success and see how visual communications can both help keep us safe and help us recover in hospital

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  • I don’t mean to be critical about this excellent cause but the ‘is’ thing doesn’t work, even if it’s in handwritten type. The rebrand and the execution on literature, etc., is lovely but I’m not convinced by this.

  • Can you imagine if all designers devote 10% of their time doing thew kind of work that johnsonbanks mainly does? The world would be a better place.

  • Brinley

    What people have to realise is that not everyone knows what Cystic Fibrosis is, and for people to understand what they’re donating there money to it has to be made clear. I think they’ve done a great job, if you look at what the trust had before it was awful. A charities main concern is awareness and fundraising,this campaign will help the trust do this.

  • Pat Williams

    As the parent of a CF sufferer I think the ‘is’ idea really does work. It will make people ‘second look’ and take in the point that is being made! Well done!

  • I was starting to think “what has cystic fibrosis got to do with design?” When I saw the headline, but I see why now.

    The design work here and the colours used has made the subject “friendly” in a lot of ways, not something to be scared of. This can only help increase the profile and awareness of Cystic Fibrosis, making people engage with the subject more.

    Great job.

  • It seems to me that Johnson Banks almost always hit the right level for the subject – not designing for designers but doing a great job of getting the pertinent messages across in an interesting way.

  • A.Russell

    A fine example of branding for the masses. It’s bold, smart and most importantly educational. This won’t tick all the boxes for design aesthetics but will for design effectiveness.

    As a CF patient, this is a rebrand to be proud of.

  • I’m really not into logo-bashing, and I adore the work of the JB team, but why has the word ‘Trust’ disappeared? Without it, this feels more like a campaign to explain what the disease is, rather than a brand marque representing a hugely influential charitable body.

  • James


    “this feels more like a campaign to explain what the disease is”

    If you cared to read the first sentence of the article then you’d know this is exactly the idea behind the rebrand…

    “Johnson Banks has created a new ‘active’ brand identity system for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust which aims to explain what the disease is and how it affects people”

    Congrats to the team at JB on another belter

  • Yeah I have to agree Brinley that the new identity is an improvements and that they have done a fantastic job. The new identity will appeal to a younger audience too which will help to educate a new generation. I hope the rebrand works really well to raise both awareness and funding.

  • A great rebranding that helps to educate as well as raise awareness. I think its important that each platform is consistent with one another, and I think the animation in particular has achieved a friendly and welcoming tone that is rare to find in a lot charity campaigns.

  • Martin

    It is nice work but it is similar to MIND.ORG.UK who also rebranded recently.

    The font usage, the doodle illustration form, the primary warm yellow and the messaging tone are much like assets of the MIND identity.

    In my opinion this may cause audience confusion between each of these brands.

  • Love the design. Really stands out.