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.



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