Fields in Trust's new logo has been public since we launched our new strategy last month, so it is timely to examine the reasons why we reviewed and updated our visual identity and branding. In this article Fields in Trust Chief Executive, Helen Griffiths, sets out the process that the organisation went through to refresh the brand and reflects on ensuring an organisation with more than 90 years of history remains relevant and continues to have a vital impact for the UK's parks and green spaces.
The new strategy was born out of a process of reviewing the core purpose of the charity. It is vital to keep the work of the organisation relevant in a changing financial, political and social context. It was important for us to clarify our proposition. We reviewed our activities to consider what was core to our work, what was desirable to pursue and what we had the capacity to deliver. In doing so we considered what was unique about the charity that made us different from other green-space-sector organisations.
After a detailed review of our role and our purpose we determined that our core work naturally clusters into three strategic aims – To protect parks and green spaces, to support these spaces and those who operate and maintain them and to champion the value of all parks and green spaces and those who use and enjoy them.
Our approach to widen our remit of championing all parks and green spaces is a continuation of work through the UK's Best Park award and the extension of our Have a Field Day campaign which celebrate all parks and green spaces – not just those we protect. There is currently a significant opportunity through the Government's Parks Action Group to participate in influencing policy in relation to green spaces and ensure they are revalued for their contributions to health and welfare - not cut due to their costs.
It is vital that our new strategy is underpinned with rigorous research. As a charity we rely on the support of many partners and so, along with all UK charities working with funders, trusts and foundations we must evidence our work and demonstrate our impact with reliable data. Our research report, "Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces", was the first publication to use our new livery and was published alongside the strategy and revised website last month.
We adopted the operating name back in 2007 following a review of our activity and position. We recognised then that the brand and heritage of the National Playing Fields Association was strong, but it didn't capture the full remit of the organisation's work. We are, and always have been since we were founded in 1925, interested in parks and green spaces of all sorts not just playing fields and so this was limiting how we were perceived by some key stakeholders. Of equal concern was the fact that we are a UK-wide charity operating in all four home nations and 'National' didn't reflect the devolved contemporary landscape so there was a need to ensure the name was fit for purpose going forward.
The period since the change of name in 2007 has been one of the most productive periods in the life of the charity. A total of 1,397 parks and green spaces were protected during the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge; more than in the history of the organisation hitherto. We extended the number of landowners we work with and established a major corporate sponsorship agreement. This significant growth occurred against the backdrop of a difficult national economic environment and severe constraints on local authority funding, demonstrating that there is a desire amongst local authority landowners to protect land – even though the resources available to maintain them is diminishing. More recently partnerships with The Royal British Legion through our Centenary Fields programme and a new collaboration with the London Marathon Charitable Trust has grown our reach and increased new, thematic protection programmes.
During this period our long-term president HRH The Duke of Edinburgh stepped down after 64 years to be replaced by his grandson HRH The Duke of Cambridge who has been an active supporter of our work and has written a foreword for our new strategy, "Green Spaces for Good". Our President has also spearheaded a new focus on mental health and wellbeing alongside physical health through sport.
Whilst the logo was right for a period when much of our work was focussed on the London Olympics through to Glasgow Commonwealth Games - we need to reflect something that reveals our longer-term protection of many different parks and green spaces. The old brand visuals of a running man logo and the acronym "FIT" placed too much emphasis on sport - we are keen to encourage the most inactive as we do under the Active Spaces programme in partnership with the London Marathon Charitable Trust. Additionally, many sites such as nature reserves, memorial gardens and playgrounds have uses which reach far beyond formal sports.
For a small emblem on a printed page the logo has a big job to do. The central circle echoes pitch markings seen from above - suggesting our overview of green spaces. The stylised representation of play (the swing), sport (a vintage football) and nature (a British native tree) puts the users of parks and green spaces right at the centre of our identity.
The inclusion of the date the charity was established, 1925 shows both an acknowledgement of our long history and a reassurance that as an organisation with extensive track-record we are well placed to protect parks and green spaces in perpetuity. The logo is rendered with a ten-degree tilt – which resonates with the idea of a hand placed stamp or a seal on a legal deed – the mechanism we use for protection in perpetuity.
During the development process we engaged our Trustees and the team, first in the development of our corporate strategy and then the visual identity which accurately represented the new strategy. The central elements were developed into an outline approach which then went through an extensive process of deliberation with Trustees, the team and a few trusted external partners to ensure we were getting it right. It was an iterative process and the time taken to include all views delivered a worthwhile result supported by all stakeholders.
Parks and green spaces are proven to help people stay physically and mentally well; places where we can all move, breathe, run and play. They are an important tool to drive social cohesion, combat loneliness and build community spirit. Our strategy, informed by our research, illustrates what we all intuitively know; green spaces are good, they do good and they should be protected for good. Green Spaces for Good.
Helen Griffiths is Fields in Trust's Chief Executive and is an experienced and knowledgeable commentator on issues related to parks, playing fields and recreational spaces. Follow Helen on Twitter @hegriffiths.