Brand Identity, Digital Design, Campaigns

Brand strategy, tone of voice and visual identity for one of​ ​Britain's​ ​oldest and most famous animal rescue centres.

Battersea is a much-loved charity that cares for dogs and cats in Britain and beyond. Established in 1860, Battersea has gone from one home in London to three rescuing and rehoming centres around the country, growing in size and ambition to care for three million pets in need.

Whether it’s newly-born or getting on, cute or characterful, and regardless of its breed, background or behaviour, Battersea takes in every dog and cat that arrives at its gates. Drawing upon unparalleled expertise, Battersea provides these animals with the best possible training and care, until an owner or a new home can be found.

However, despite Battersea’s longstanding pedigree, an inconsistent approach to identity and communications had left it with a brand that did not convey the full breadth of its offering and expertise.

Pentagram worked closely with the charity to develop a brand strategy, tone of voice and visual identity that presents Battersea as both a compassionate caregiver and a leading authority in animal welfare, creating a brand that strikes a balance between warmth and expertise, putting the charity’s multi-faceted offering at the centre of its story.

Founded by Mary Tealby as the ‘Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs’, the charity’s name had been tweaked and iterated over the years and it was most recently known as ‘Battersea Dogs & Cats Home’. In some contexts, the word ‘home’ could infer a permanent dwelling for Battersea’s animals. It could also be understood to mean one location, despite Battersea operating across three sites. Under Pentagram’s strategic guidance, the ‘Dogs & Cats Home’ descriptor was dropped from the majority of communications.

Instead, Pentagram placed the emphasis on the charity’s commitment to unconditionally care for all dogs and cats, and developed a brand line that acts as a steadfast manifesto for Battersea: ‘Here for every dog and cat.’

Pentagram’s 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.

Informed by the brand idea, the dynamic visual identity created by Pentagram uses a “family” of hand-drawn watercolour illustrations to humanely emphasise Battersea’s commitment to care for every dog and cat. Retaining Battersea’s signature blue, the watercolours—made up of five dogs and five cats—are used in varying combinations, giving Battersea the flexibility to tell a rich and diverse story across all of its platforms.

The abstract illustrations are designed to subtly communicate Battersea’s story; they appeal to people’s compassion and humanity, without victimising or stigmatising the animals. While the characters are devoid of facial features, they remain expressive and retain a strong sense of individuality: celebrating the diverse range of personalities found among Battersea’s dogs and cats, while emphasising the human intervention required to make them whole.

The warmth, kindness and humanity expressed by the watercolour is balanced with a sharp Franklin Gothic wordmark, which injects an element of authority to the visual identity. 

A key focus while developing the identity was to create a brand that could flex and adapt based on the audience. This is particularly useful for Battersea’s public-facing programmes and fundraising initiatives, which lean into the joyful part of the brand personality. ‘Muddy Dog’, a fundraising challenge from Battersea, takes a playful spin on the master identity and uses tongue-in-cheek headlines to engage with its audience. In addition, Pentagram created a playful hand-drawn typeface, Battersea Paws, to reflect this loud and fun personality.

Pentagram also commissioned and art directed a new suite of photography to compliment the brand’s visual identity and tone of voice. Putting personality over sentiment, the studio photography captures the dogs and cats who come to Battersea; showing their real, wonderful characters and personalities.

The photography also captures the next chapter of a dog or cat’s life after Battersea. Taken in their new homes and with their new owners, these are stories of animals and humans together, of dogs and cats being given a second chance. These images capture natural, candid moments which demonstrate a real connection between pets and their new owners, or the wonderful characters of the animals.

Naresh Ramchandani
Marina Willer
Project team
Hamlet Auyeung
Ashley Johnson
Zuleika Sedgley
Stuart Gough
Kate Blewett
Cleber de Campos
Lizzie Reid
Ian Osborne
Megan Conery
Marta Gaspar
Jake Clewis
Marion Bisserier
Beatriz Camargo
Hiromi Suzuki, illustrator
Patrick Giasson, typographer
Jess Bonham, photographer
Liz Seabrook, photographer
Theron Humphrey, photographer
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