Our brand review: How focusing on skills for life will make it easier to talk about Scouting
By Tim Kidd, UK Chief Commissioner
Many of you will have seen updates in the magazine and online about our brand review. Now, after consulting and testing with over 7,000 people, our proposals are going to our Board in March for approval.
This coming May, it’s highly likely that we’ll see a new brand for Scouting alongside our new strategic plan. But while it’s easy to focus on a new logo, it’s just as easy to forget the main reason we’re reviewing our brand: to help people understand our key benefit, which is helping young people develop skills for life.
After speaking with thousands of young people and adults outside the Movement, one thing’s very clear; while Scouting is well known, we are notknown well. Yes, people are aware we wear a uniform, that we have badges and support young people in our communities. But ask them to describe what we do and why we do it and they really struggle.
Some told us that they ‘had not heard of Scouting in a long time’; that we are ‘invisible’ and that they associate Scouting with ‘something from the 80s and 90s’. Given that our current brand is now 17 years old, created in a pre-digital age, we can’t really blame people for this.
I firmly believe, and our testing supports this, that if we start to talk differently about ourselves and present ourselves in a more contemporary and relevant way, we can substantially increase the support for Scouting. Putting skills for life at the heart of what we do and say will make it easier to talk about Scouting and recruit new volunteers.
What could change in May this year?
The first thing to say is that the purple World Membership Badge, worn by every Scout, will not change. However, if the Board gives its approval, we will refocus our main UK brand around our key benefit: Skills for Life. We will also update our UK logo with something simpler, stronger and more contemporary that works just as well digitally as in print, while retaining our heritage.
Our tone of voice (the way we talk about Scouting) will be more confident, active, inclusive, surprising and optimistic. We will also introduce a visual identity with a more vibrant colour palette with a more accessible, friendlier (and free!) font.
It’s worth remembering that for some without a Scouting background, our current, highly traditional Fleur-de-lis at best means very little, and at worst seems old-fashioned and from another time. While, of course, we will preserve the heritage of the Fleur-de-lis in our brand, we need to look at how we can contemporise it while showing our relevance for the 21st century.
Why put skills for life at the heart of our brand?
You’ll have seen the phrase ‘skills for life’ before in our resources and on our videos. We’ve also been testing it and getting people’s reactions. Research with parents, young people and the public told us that this was the message that made Scouting most relevant, distinctive and supportable.
Increasingly, Scouting has really started to own #SkillsForLife as a phrase and hashtag. It feels true to what we do and realistic too – young people can gain skills just as easily on a Tuesday evening in a town or city as they can in the wilds of Snowdonia. It’s just as helpful to a leader talking to a potential parent helper as it is to Bear Grylls talking about Scouting on Chris Evans’ breakfast show. It describes the employability skills (like teamwork, leadership and problem solving), the character skills (like resilience, tenacity and confidence) and the practical skills (like first aid, navigation and coding) that young people need to succeed.
What about fun and adventure?
Fun, adventure and especially, the belonging you feel in Scouting, will still absolutely be part of our brand. But rather than talk about adventure as the key reason for parents to send their children or volunteer, we will talk about skills. We will talk about skills for life, show fun and adventure, and convey a sense of belonging.
Will this help with recruitment?
I believe it will. When we shared the new brand proposals with mums (one of our key audiences), 40% were more likely to volunteer and they were twice as likely to send their children to Scouts. Significantly, we found that parents from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities were 44% more likely to volunteer and 69% more likely to send their children to Scouts. That’s potentially a huge step forward for us as a movement committed to inclusivity.
Of course, this doesn’t magically translate directly to more volunteers, but it does say to me that if we embrace the new brand and talk about skills for life, it’s going to be easier to grow Scouting and help us become more diverse.
Support for you
In our next blog, we’ll be sharing details of the support available to you if the Board approves the brand. There’ll be a new brand centre, a new range of templates and resources, and a two-year time period to make the changes. A great team of volunteers and staff from across the Movement have worked on these proposals and we’ll be hearing from them too, with expert advice on making the transition as smooth as possible.
So, yes, in mid-May you may see a logo with our new strategy, but I’d like you to think back on the main reason behind this review: to help people understand that Scouting gives young people and potential adult volunteers skills for life.
Editor's note: this blog was updated on 12 March to provide clarity on the World Membership Badge in relation to the brand review.