For many of our clients, their research programme is part of a broader initiative incorporating our other key service – brand development. This was the case for The Fremantle Trust.

The Fremantle Trust runs both care homes and learning disability homes in 58 sites across three counties.

Objectives of the Project

The aim of the project was to refresh the brand so that it had a more contemporary look and feel and communicated the unique qualities of The Fremantle Trust brand more effectively.

Our initial task was to review and refine the client’s current brand strategy – who they are, what makes them different and why their customers should choose them. This redefined strategy would then set the direction for their ‘refreshed’ identity.

A key consideration for the project was The Fremantle Trust’s wide range of stakeholders – to achieve the necessary buy-in we needed to include representatives from as many segments as possible in the research.  Our challenge was to maximise the use of the limited budget, whilst ensuring we delivered the level of detail required.

The Proposal

To meet the overall objectives of the client and maximise the available time, budget and resource, we designed a fast but focused two-phase programme:

Phase One – Articulating the Brand

  1. Briefing session
  2. Stakeholder engagement research
  3. Management brand workshop
  4. Producing the creative brief

Phase Two – Creative Transformation

  1. Design and agreement of the new identity
  2. Applications and templates to create the new ‘look &feel’

Stakeholder Engagement Research

Understanding the aims

We developed a research plan and discussion guidelines which focused on:

  • current perceptions of the brand
  • hopes for the future,
  • perceived strengths and weaknesses (both absolute and relative to the competition)
  • current communications.

In order to understand the brand in full, ideally, we needed to conduct the research amongst all stakeholder segments, across both arms of the organisation (Care Homes and Learning Disability Centres).  This would involve talking to staff of various levels, people in care and their families, managers, suppliers and funders amongst others.

However, creating a traditional research programme to meet all these needs and including a comprehensive group of stakeholders was a severe challenge for the approved budget.

Adopting a flexible approach

Given the budget limitations, we needed to take a flexible approach. We needed to gain deep insight whilst simultaneously ensuring as many members of staff (and broader stakeholders) as possible felt involved in the process.

So, we thought creatively and decided that we couldn’t be as prescriptive as normal. We positioned ourselves in four different locations – spending a whole day in each. From there, we let the research select itself, doing as many 1:1 and 1:2+ interviews as we could. These interviews involved whoever was accessible that day including managers, staff (carers of varying length of service), families of people in care and people with learning disabilities, their carers/support workers. Additionally, we conducted phone interviews with suppliers / funders.

Through this method we were able to conduct interviews with a wide range of different stakeholders, providing us not only with the vital insights we required but also giving our client a key engagement tool. News of our activity was published in the in-house newsletter so that staff knew what was taking place and why they were being consulted. The newsletter also highlighted that the staff involved were not cherrypicked but were randomly selected.

The Results

Our research revealed a number of key insights.  Overall The Fremantle Trust was viewed as having a positive, ethical ethos. Stakeholders agreed that it put people, not profit, first. It was also perceived to offer a high-quality service in a homely environment, encouraging people to live their lives as independently and fully as possible.

However, research also identified some inconsistencies across the brand. The positive sentiments were not standard across the whole of The Fremantle Trust and there appeared to be a ‘fading fondness’ for the brand allied to a frustration that achievable improvements were not being made.

From our work we were able to identify three main findings:

  • There was a need to foster a cohesive community, uniting every unit into one team
  • There were key territories where the brand should and could be focused. This included its charitable status, superb skills and training, the people-centric attitude, and its focus on innovation
  • Several tensions existed – including between head office and the individual homes; between permanent and agency staff and between the need to provide first rate (nurturing) care and the commercial reality.

The Next Steps

The findings from the staff engagement research were presented to the senior management team at the beginning of a management brand workshop. This provided the team with an update of staff perceptions and set the scene for the development of the brand articulation.

The research was crucial in allowing us to provide feedback from all key stakeholder segments and enabled us to present demonstrable, real-world results from management, staff, and families. We were also able to segment the analysis to show discrepancies between learning disabilities support and care homes.

The research was invaluable in allowing the wider team to refine the brand and create a motivating strategy for future success. This strategy was the foundation for the creative brief and ensured the smooth development of a new, highly appropriate brand ‘look & feel’.