Little things make big things happen...
14 September 2018 09:32
By Honor Wilson-Fletcher, British Exploring Society CEO
Little things make big things happen…
The often-intangible sum of our attributes as an organisation; our name, history, reputation, what we do, and the way we talk about and present ourselves is what would generally be called our ‘brand’. It includes everything which distinguishes us, and could also be described as our ‘DNA’. We are represented by large numbers of friends, volunteers, members, partners and participants, so it is obviously important that this DNA is accurate.
We continue, as we have always done, to prepare young people for expeditions to remote locations where they face challenges, acquire outdoor skills and learn about themselves. But since publishing our headline strategy, Advance and Ascend, we have started to make good progress reaching new audiences, working with more young people and becoming more inclusive. There is now a growing mismatch between what we do and how we describe what we do.
Over a period of several months we have been talking to some of our most important existing and new partners and colleagues. Their feedback told us that;
• We are complex to understand for people who don’t know us well
• There are still some perceptions that what we do is provide travel opportunities, not learning opportunities
• There is only limited understanding of who we provide learning opportunities for
• Our communications tend to focus on where we go, and not why we go there.
So – our description of our DNA isn’t working for us any more. We’ve thought a lot about what we do, about the words we use to describe what we do, and then followed that up with time spent thinking about how we could more accurately present ourselves. Following all that, we have undertaken a refresh of our visual identity, too. We’ve gone back to road-test this with a range of stakeholders, and the feedback has been very positive.
Here’s a simple introduction which we hope now explains what we do to as wide a range of audiences as possible:
British Exploring Society is a world class youth development charity with a unique heritage, founded on the belief that challenging experiences can change lives, empowering and equipping young people with the courage, integrity, skills, resilience and motivation to make the most of their future.
We prepare young people for expeditions to remote locations where they face challenges, acquire outdoor skills and learn about themselves - as well as undertaking projects to acquire knowledge and skills relevant to their lives and to the fragile environments that they explore.
The results are transformative – not just in terms of practical skills and resilience, but in a new-found confidence and self-belief which they carry forward to their future life.’
More than this, through their adventure together, our young people forge friendships for life and become part of a unique supportive and continuing community of explorers with shared experiences, values and perspectives on the world. ‘
At the heart of this is what we do that others don’t: a unique mix of adventure, youth development and knowledge delivered in remote locations, and access to a supportive community of like-minded people.
This made us think about how we want to look, too. We liked the idea of ‘showing’ these three key elements - adventure, youth development and knowledge – in a continuous circle, which could also symbolise the community we want to make available to young people – and which our leaders, members, fellows and partners are a key part of. We worked with a design agency who looked through our archives, at hundreds of photographs from our expeditions and spent a lot of time learning about we do. Here’s the new identity they’ve given us – that does just that:
We’ve already named it - ‘the campfire’.
We will also be using more images and language which come from and are about the young people we work with – so that their individual voices are easier to hear. Their experiences need to take precedence over everything else.
Beyond how we look, our name - ‘British Exploring Society’ says what we do – but doesn’t indicate why it such a valuable thing to do - to those who don’t know us. So we have chosen 3 words to help explain the value of our work in a motivating and unique way. Those 3 words are FIND YOUR FIRE – which seem to us to sum up everything that British Exploring Society is about. You’ll often see these words associated with our logo in future and we hope you will come to love them as much as we do.
Goodbye, and thank you.
We’ve enjoyed our last summer season with our current identity – affectionately known as ‘the sprout’ – and we’d like to welcome in our new look and language in time for our Next Steps and Focus on the Future events this Autumn. Before we say goodbye, we would like to thank the sprout for all its hard work in print, online, at airports and ‘in the field’ over the last 6 years. We know it won’t disappear altogether – I still see photographs of BSES t-shirts and rucksack badges now and again – but everyone at British Exploring Society will be sharing and using ‘the campfire’ from now onwards. If you have reason to use our branding - we would be very grateful if you could do the same. Let us know if you do want to use it and we can help you to use it consistently and well.