Founded in 1860, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home became one of the best-known animal charities in the world. It now cares for 7,000 animals a year.
But as with so many organisations, its visual identity and brand had not kept pace with changes to what it does and how it does it. The name itself had become somewhat cumbersome – originally the institution had been called the ‘Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs’, known colloquially as Battersea Dogs Home, but was adapted to reflect the fact that it also took in cats. The term ‘home’ had also apparently proved problematic as it implied that the organisation’s goal was to house animals there, whereas really its purpose is to find new homes for its residents. The organisation now also operates across three locations (including one in Kent and another in Berkshire) rather than the one implied by the old name.
Pentagram’s proposed solution was to drop the ‘Dogs & Cats Home’ descriptor from the majority of communications, though it remains the official name. Instead, a new brand line explains what the organisation does: ‘Here for every dog and cat’.
The studio says its approach was “to strike out against some of the negative connotations associated with the language and tactics of the charity sector, which often leans into a world of shock tactics, euphemistic language, well-worn tropes and overly-sentimental language. Instead, the new Battersea brand deploys honest and straightforward language, expressed by a tone of voice that speaks with joy, principles, expertise and endeavour.”
Illustrator Hiromi Suzuki was commissioned to create a family of watercolour images of five dogs and five cats to be used in varying combinations. Though devoid of facial features, they nonetheless convey a charming character that refers to Battersea’s essential kindness. A new Franklin Gothic word mark “injects an element of authority to the visual identity,” Pentagram claim.
For a new fundraising initiative Muddy Dog, Pentagram created a playful hand-drawn typeface, Battersea Paws, along with tongue-in-cheek headlines.
Studio photography aims to capture the next chapter of a dog or cat’s life after finding a new home, connecting pets with their new owners.
It’s a charming piece of work that avoids the shock horror of so much animal welfare campaigning. Suzuki’s illustrations are utterly captivating and will no doubt result in significantly boosted merchandise sales. Quite what the citizens of London SW8 will think about having the name of their suburb co-opted by just one organisation, we’re not sure (there may be letters to the Standard) but, hey, it’s for a good cause.